Stephen Harper avoided mentioning cannabis in relation to his mandatory minimum sentencing legislation despite the fact that it includes a mandatory prison sentence of 6 months for "grow ops" of 6 plants or more! It doesn't seem like Mr. Harper wants the general public to know who this legislation will actually target

< Bill S-10 Proposed Sentencing chart (detail)

Note: Any of the listed "Health and Safety Factors" will increase the prison sentence from 6 to 9 months.

Health and Safety Factors:
  • the accused used real property that belongs to a third party to commit the offence;
  • the production constituted a potential security, health or safety hazard to children who were in the location where the offence was committed or in the immediate area;
  • the production constituted a potential public safety hazard in a residential area;
  • the accused placed or set a trap.

A message to Canada: Don't repeat mistakes of U.S. 'war on drugs'
May 25, 2009 - Rabble.ca - Deborah Peterson Small

The assertion that mandatory minimum drug sentencing policies can be justified as an effective deterrent to crime has been discredited by numerous studies and analysis of the impact of such laws. This criticism has not been limited to those with liberal beliefs about politics and crime -- conservatives, including some who previously espoused ‘tough on crime’ approaches have called for the repeal of mandatory minimum drug sentences.

After more than 35 years of harsh mandatory drug sentencing the political consensus for change in New York reached a tipping point. I’m happy to report that this year the New York State legislature finally did what the public has been requesting it do for years -- it voted to repeal most of the remaining vestiges of the Rockefeller drug laws.

It is ironic to me that Canada is considering enacting a law very similar to the one it took us so long to undo in New York. I don’t want to see your country repeat our mistake; the harms caused by 35 years of bad sentencing policy will take a long time to repair.

For many years, drug sentences throughout the United States, have been shaped by public concerns and political pressures that have been indifferent to the need for proportionality. Many factors -- the persistence of drug use and abuse, the deterioration of inner cities, the rise of symbolic politics, racial undercurrents, a fear of crime and an unwillingness to tackle social inequalities, among others -- encouraged politicians and public officials to embrace inordinately tough sentences for drug felonies.

Don’t be taken in by politicians claiming the answer to the drug problem is to take a ‘get tough’ approach. We don’t need to be tough on crime; we need to be ‘smart on crime.’

Being smart means investing in what has been demonstrated to work: evidence-based drug treatment; effective drug education; proactive family support programs and early and continuous support for ‘at-risk’ youth.

In this way we demonstrate our societal commitment to invest in people, not prisons, to show compassion, not indifference, to help, not punish.
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