Pubdate: Fri, 18 Dec 2009
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Ryan Hallett


Bill C-15 is a step backwards in its imposition of mandatory minimum
prison sentences, including those for what in Canada have
traditionally been considered victimless crimes, such as growing a
small amount of marijuana at your residence.

I understand when parliamentarians are focusing on organized crime for
illegal activities which involve cultivating more than 200 plants on
farms or residential property that are owned and run as
multi-million-dollar grow-ops.

However, despite the Senate's amendments, the bill still brings under
its net a person who grows one plant on the window sill. It sentences
youth not only to a nine-month jail term, but later labels as a
convict someone who grows pot for recreational use in what has become
a socially acceptable practice.

The judge no longer would have the discretion to give a reduced
sentence which would save someone who might be an otherwise
law-abiding citizen from dragging around a criminal record that will
make them less employable and a liability to our society.

One does not have to approve of using drugs to see the folly in this
type of legislation.

Even the United States is apparently moving away from mandatory
minimums. We can see how they have worked for them in their own war on
drugs, with no reduction at all in the incidence of drug use and
trafficking, and an ever-larger demographic of cons and ex-cons.

Bill C-15 is regressive and sets us on a dangerous track towards a
more repressive society. It drains resources at a time when we are
tightening our belts, and creates a larger class of criminals who we
have to pay to incarcerate, and who themselves continue to pay long
after they complete their sentence.

Ryan Hallett,

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