Stephen Harper's mission against marijuana: Mandatory minimum sentences will only make matters worse

MONTREAL, Sept. 20, 2011 /CNW Telbec/ - NORML Canada (National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws) speaks out against the conservative Government's omnibus crime bill, to be introduced this Tuesday, September 20th, that is expected to include mandatory minimum sentences for minor marijuana offences; as few as six plants could carry a minimum of 6 months in jail.

NORML Canada has always advocated that tougher sentences are not the solution to the violence associated with the drug trade, they are the source. The endless demand creates a need for supply, and stiffer penalties favour the harder criminal element, who remain undeterred, and who have no qualms of resorting to violence to protect the obscene profits that prohibition creates.

Mandatory minimum sentences will put the public at further risk, forcing otherwise non violent, law abiding cannabis users to interact with the most unsavory criminal element.

The government has also not explained the costs of implementing mandatory minimum sentencing. These changes will cost taxpayers untold billions, the majority of these costs being borne by the provinces.

In the USA, several states have already abandoned this policy. After crumbling under the financial weight of this failed approach, California has started releasing low-level offenders they can no longer afford to keep locked up.

Why is Canada going backwards now, ignoring all the evidence that has shown stiffer sentences do nothing to reduce the use of drugs?

NORML Canada sincerely urges our prime minister to reconsider this flawed approach and remove mandatory minimum sentences for all cannabis offences. We also look forward to sharing our expertise in this area with the appropriate committees once their work gets under way.

SOURCE NORML CANADA

For further information:

514-808-8682 Marc-Boris St-Maurice, Montreal
604-852-5110 John Conroy, Vancouver

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