Greetings NORML Canada members and welcome to the summer of 2012. The summer is traditionally a time to relax and unwind. [Many in the cannabis community have finished the hard work of spring and the wait for the cooler days and longer nights of fall has begun.]

The hard work of educating our government about the harms of prohibition never ends. Implementation of the dreaded mandatory minimum sentences for cannabis “crimes” was announced this week.

Canada is taking a big step backward on cannabis issues while places like Uruguay and Columbia take the lead in normlization efforts. The Americans are starting to wake up with major cities like Chicago enacting a decriminalization model. Currently 17 American states have enacted some form of medical marijuana initiatives, and there are 7 more statewide initiatives being considered. When countries in South America and American states are coming around to the reality of the harms of prohibition, why then is the Harper Government ignoring all the evidence and instead ramping up the drug war in Canada? [working so hard to throw us in jail?]

Canada is the only country in the world that has a Federal medicinal cannabis program; we should be a shining beacon around the world . [not facing oppression and stigma for our choice to consume this relatively benign substance.] Instead Ottawa is taking steps to further restrict the MMAR program and is attempting to do away with personal growing in favor of a large scale commercial production model. For more information about the Health Canada proposed changes click here.

NORML Canada hopes everyone across this land had a Happy 145th Canada Day, and encourages all of us to become more involved in the political process. Sitting on our hands and complaining about how this country is being run will not solve our problems. Identifying, assisting and voting for open minded, supportive candidates will. Join us as we work to find these candidates and help us change things once and for all.

Vienna Declaration

NORML Canada is beginning a pilot project with the good people at the Vienna Declaration. It is our hope that member volunteers across Canada will engage with us as we approach smaller municipalities in an attempt to create grass roots support for this initiative. Anyone interested in working with us to bring this important message to their local City Council is encouraged to email us at info@norml.ca. Please put Vienna Declaration in the subject line of the email.

C-10 Update: Coming into Force in November

The Government introduced the Safe Streets and Communities Act on September 20, 2011, fulfilling its commitment to “move quickly to re-introduce comprehensive law-and-order legislation to combat crime and terrorism.” [The Safe Streets and Communities Act received Royal Assent on March 13, 2012] The Conservative Government claims the criminal law amendments in this legislation will make communities safer by:

Amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to increase penalties for serious drug crime – Coming into Force November 6, 2012

These amendments will:

These serious drug offences include:

Generally, the mandatory minimum penalty would apply where there is an aggravating factor, including where the production of the drug constituted a potential security, health or safety hazard.

The aggravating factors involve offences committed:

The security, health and safety factors are:

A detailed backgrounder on Increasing Penalties for Serious Drug Crime can be found on the Department of Justice Canada’s Web site.

Bill C-43 has been recently put before the House of Commons.

This Bill will amend the Immigration and Refuge Protection Act. Currently, a permanent resident (a non-Canadian citizen) is inadmissible into Canada if convicted of an offence where the maximum penalty is at least 10 years or where the sentence is at least 6 months (this includes a conditional sentence). Currently, a permanent resident can appeal (as long as the sentence was under 2 years) a removal order for criminality to the Immigration Appeal Division on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Bill C-43 would deny any appeal to anybody receiving a sentence of 6 months or more. It is common to receive a conditional sentence in excess of 6 months for a routine marihuana garden.

Bill C-10 which has now received royal assent and comes into effect November 6, 2012 mandates 6 months jail for 6 plants if it is found to be for the purpose of trafficking. The cannabis community should be aware of this nasty new bill and the potential impact it will have on Canadians.

Have a happy and safe July Cannabians, the time has come to lighten up the oppressive laws and step out of the shadows. There are millions of us, be proud, be free, be Cannabian!