Jails Not Going To Pot, Says Minister

Jan 5, 2012

New Laws Aimed at Traf­fick­ers, Not Users OTTAWA – Cana­dian jail cells are not going to be brim­ming with teenagers and col­lege kids who share pot with their pals, accord­ing to Jus­tice Min­is­ter Rob Nichol­son who main­tains one of the most con­tentious facets of his omnibus crime bill has been grossly mis­rep­re­sented. Manda­tory min­i­mum sen­tences for mar­i­juana pro­duc­tion are designed to tar­get orga­nized crime, gangs and grow-ops, he said in a year-end inter­view with Post­media News. They don’t apply to young offend­ers and even new pro­vi­sions that aim to penal­ize adults who are traf­fick­ing drugs around schools mean per­pe­tra­tors would have to be caught with an “eight-pound joint” to be sad­dled with a manda­tory min­i­mum under the safe streets and com­mu­ni­ties act, he argued. “For the most part the laws with respect to mar­i­juana aren’t changed but they are changed with respect to traf­fick­ing asso­ci­ated with orga­nized crime, gangs and grow-ops for the pur­pose of traf­fick­ing,” he said. “I want to make that very clear because it was not clear in some of the crit­i­cisms.  If some­body was thrown in jail under this bill, they were in the busi­ness of traf­fick­ing.” It’s been a par­tic­u­larly acri­mo­nious year for Nichol­son, who has come under fire for bundling nine vastly dif­fer­ent bills into one and push­ing it through Par­lia­ment thanks to his party’s new major­ity.  2012 isn’t expected to get any eas­ier.  In Jan­u­ary, Nichol­son will meet with his provin­cial coun­ter­parts in what will undoubt­edly be a dif­fi­cult ses­sion. Ontario and Que­bec have both refused to pick up addi­tional costs asso­ci­ated with the C-10 crime bill. Quebec’s jus­tice min­is­ter also recently left Ottawa fum­ing after the fed­eral gov­ern­ment refused to con­sider amend­ments aimed at pre­serv­ing Quebec’s approach to crim­i­nal jus­tice, which favours reha­bil­i­ta­tion and rein­te­gra­tion, par­tic­u­larly where youth are con­cerned. An old gov­ern­ment cost break­down asso­ci­ated solely with amend­ments to the Youth Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Act – which was among the pieces of leg­is­la­tion wrapped into the crime bill after the gov­ern­ment failed to pass it in pre­vi­ous minor­ity Par­lia­ments – found incar­cer­a­tion lev­els would increase by 33 per cent at a cost of $717 mil­lion over five years.  And half of that would be absorbed by the provinces. Nichol­son, how­ever, has stood by newer fig­ures that sug­gest the entire safe streets and com­mu­ni­ties act would cost the fed­eral gov­ern­ment $78.6 mil­lion over five years. The gov­ern­ment has not spec­u­lated on costs to the provinces but Nichol­son knows exactly what he’ll say to his coun­ter­parts when the sub­ject comes up. “One of the things that I will reit­er­ate is that we have acted on a num­ber of the mea­sures that they have pro­posed to us,” he said, not­ing many of the changes to the Youth Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Act, as well as an ear­lier deci­sion to elim­i­nate two-for-one sen­tenc­ing, was based on their advice. Source: Win­nipeg Free Press (CN MB) Copy­right: 2011 Win­nipeg Free Press Con­tact: http://​www​.win​nipegfreep​ress​.com/​o​p​i​n​i​o​n​/​s​e​n​d​_​a​_​l​e​t​ter Web­site: http://​www​.win​nipegfreep​ress​.com/ Author: Tobi Cohen

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Jails Not Going To Pot, Says Minister

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