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News Release

GOVERNMENT RE-INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO FIGHT SERIOUS DRUG CRIMES

VANCOUVER, February 27, 2009 – The Government of Canada today re-introduced legislation providing mandatory minimum prison sentences for serious drug crimes. The bill would establish mandatory jail time for those who produce and sell illegal drugs. This Government is taking the necessary steps to crack down on crime and to ensure the safety and security of our neighbourhoods and communities.

"The Government is fighting back against gangs and other organized criminal groups by introducing new crime laws that target drug crimes, gangs and organized crime," said the Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. "Mandatory prison sentences are appropriate for those who commit serious drug offences threatening our society."

The proposed amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) would impose mandatory jail time for producing and selling illegal drugs. This legislation calls for special penalties to be imposed when offences are carried out for organized crime purposes or if they target youth.

The amendments to the CDSA would include the provision of:

  • a one-year mandatory prison sentence for dealing drugs such as marijuana, when carried out for organized crime purposes or when a weapon or violence is involved;
  • a two-year mandatory prison sentence for dealing drugs such as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines to youth, or for dealing those drugs near a school or in an area normally frequented by youth;
  • a two-year mandatory prison sentence for the offence of running a large marijuana grow operation involving at least 500 plants;
  • increased maximum penalties for cannabis production from 7 years to 14 years imprisonment; and,
  • tougher penalties for trafficking GHB and flunitrazepam, most commonly known as date-rape drugs.

The proposed legislation would allow a Drug Treatment Court to suspend a sentence while the addicted accused person takes an approved treatment program. Drug Treatment Courts encourage the accused person to deal with the addiction that motivates their criminal behaviour. If the person successfully completes the program, the court normally imposes a suspended or reduced sentence. These courts include a blend of judicial supervision, incentives for reduced drug use, social services support, and sanctions for non-compliance.

"These measures are a proportionate and measured response designed to disrupt criminal enterprise; drug producers and dealers who threaten the safety of our communities must face tougher penalties," said Minister Nicholson. "Our message to potential offenders is clear: if you sell or produce drugs, you will face jail time."

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