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Marijuana Reform Bill

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About the Marijuana Reform Bill:

This bill to reform Canadian marijuana laws was introduced several times by Liberal governments in Canada, but never passed. The Conservative government elected in January 2006 does not plan to re-introduce the bill.

Introduction of Marijuana Reform Bill:

Originally tabled in May 2003, but died on the Order Paper. The Marijuana Reform Bill was introduced again in February 2004, and once more in 2004, but never got past Committee stage.

Official Title:

An Act to amend the Contraventions Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Minister Responsible:

Minister of Justice

Status of Marijuana Reform Bill:

Not passed. Will not be re-introduced by Conservative government elected in January 2006.

Text of Marijuana Reform Bill:

Purpose of the Marijuana Reform Bill:

The Marijuana Reform Bill kept cannabis possession and production illegal under the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, but introduced softer penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana and tougher penalties for growers of marijuana. The penalties for traffickers remained the same, with a maximum sentence of life.

The intention of this bill was to send the message that marijuana is harmful and illegal, but to also provide a more realistic and consistent approach for law enforcement across Canada. New penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana meant that casual pot smokers and young people who experiment with pot would not be faced with a criminal record that would follow them for life.

Summary of the Marijuana Reform Bill:

Penalties for Marijuana Possession

The Marijuana Reform Bill distinguishes between penalties for adults and penalties for youths under the age of 18. Parents or guardians of youths who receive a ticket or are charged with marijuana possession would be notified.

Penalties in the Marijuana Reform Bill are:

  • for possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana, enough for about 15 or 20 joints, the penalty would be a ticket with a fine of $150 for an adult; $100 for a youth

  • for possession of one gram or less of cannabis resin (hashish), a ticket with a fine of $300 for an adult; $200 for a youth

  • for possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana or one gram or less of cannabis resin where aggravating factors exist, a fine of $400 for an adult and $250 for a youth. Aggravating factors include possession while committing an indictable offence, operating a motor vehicle, and on or near school grounds.

  • for possession of from 15 grams to 30 grams of marijuana, the police would have the discretion to give a ticket or issue a criminal court summons. The ticket would be $300 for an adult and $200 for a youth. The summary conviction penalty would be up to six months in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Penalties for Growing Marijuana

At the time of introduction of the Marijuana Reform Bill in 2004, production of marijuana in Canada was punishable by up to seven years imprisonment. The Marijuana Reform Bill creates different offences depending on the size of the marijuana growing operation.

The penalties for growing marijuana under the Marijuana Reform Bill would be

  • for growing one to three plants, a fine of up to $5000 and/or 12 months in jail

  • for growing four to 25 plants, a fine of up to $25,000 and/or 18 months in jail, or if pursued by indictment, five years less a day imprisonment

  • for growing 26 to 50 plants, a sentence of up to ten years

  • for growing more than 50 plants, the sentence could be up to 14 years.
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