Canada Set To Lessen Pot Penalties

A bill that will revamp the way Canada deals with marijuana has passed Parliament and is now in its final stages of becoming law. Among the reforms included in the bill are a relaxing of the penalties associated with the possession of small amounts of marijuana. “People charged with possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana or one gram of hash or hash oil will no longer be fingerprinted and they will have no criminal record,” says Steve Jeffrey, a spokesman for Canada’s Health Ministry. “[However,] possession of the drug [will still] remain a crime,” he warns.

That aspect of bill C-7 troubles NORML Canada President Umberto Iorfida. “[The law] almost doesn’t mean anything to me if you still have to appear in court,” he says. Other less critical proponents of the bill view C-7 as striking a necessary balance between a liberalizing public attitude toward the drug and the fears of anti-drug groups and law enforcement.

Among the new marijuana sanctions proposed by the pending legislation are community service or payment of a fine. Revenue raised through marijuana possession fines will be used to support marijuana related medical treatment programs and/or rehabilitation programs, notes Iorfida. The new law is expected to take effect this spring.

For more information concerning bill C-7 and Canada’s marijuana laws, please contact Umberto Iorfida of Canada NORML at (905) 833-3167.