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Tough New Law Irks MLA, Pot Supporters

C-10.  Federal bill’s mandatory sentencing for serious drug crimes came into effect on Tuesday

If you grow six marijuana plants, prepare to spend six months in the slammer.

Canada’s drug prohibition laws got tougher as a component of Bill C-10 came into effect Tuesday, legislation B.C.  MLA and former police chief Kash Heed dubbed “ridiculous” when it comes to marijuana.

The bill imposes harsher penalties and mandatory jail time for drug offenders who participate in organized crime, sell drugs to or near youth, and produce drugs where they could be a safety hazard to youth or residents.  While the law doesn’t put mandatory penalties on simple possession, it includes jail time for production of six to 200 marijuana plants and increases maximum sentences to 14 years.

This will “fog up our court system” by putting people in jail for “such a ridiculous amount of marijuana,” Heed said in an interview.

After 30 years in law enforcement, Heed is “dumbfounded” the government isn’t taking a balanced approach that focuses on demand reduction as well as locking up gangsters.

“We will never arrest our way out of this particular problem,” Heed said.  “Marijuana prohibition has not worked in Canada for many years, and it will not work in Canada.”

The Conservative government does not support legalization or decriminalization, federal Ministry of Justice spokeswoman Julie Di Mambro said in a statement.  The bill targets criminals, she said.

“Criminal organizations that rely on the drug trade do not respect the current penalties – they simply see them as the cost of doing business,” Di Mambro said.

The new sentencing laws won’t necessarily change how Vancouver police enforce drug crimes, Const.  Brian Montague said.

But Dana Larsen of the Medical Cannabis Dispensary said his organization could receive mandatory minimums for trafficking more than three kilograms of cannabis.

“We rely on the tolerance of our community,” he said.  “If I was elsewhere outside Vancouver, I’d be a little more nervous.”

Source: Metro (Vancouver, CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 Metro Canada
Contact: vancouverletters@metronews.ca
Website: http://www.metronews.ca/vancouver
Author: Emily Jackson

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