Canadian Senate Passes Mandatory Minimums for Five Marijuana Plants

The Canadian Senate Friday passed the Conservative government's crime bill, S-10, which institutes mandatory minimum sentences for a number of non-violent drug offenses, including a six-month sentence for growing five pot plants. The bill now heads to the House of Commons for hearings and a vote.

Parliament House, Ottawa (Courtesy Wikicommons)
Last year, the bill passed the House, but had been watered down by a Senate amendment raising the bar for mandatory minimums to more than 200 plants. But the bill died before final passage when Prime Minister Steven Harper dissolved parliament. 

This year, after elections strengthened the Conservatives' hand in the Senate, "the body of sober second thoughts" had no stomach for another fight over the bill, which was reintroduced this spring by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson. Liberal members of parliament counted heads and concluded they couldn't pass the amendment again. Another amendment that would have had the mandatory minimums kick in at 20 plants was defeated earlier.

The bill would impose six-month mandatory minimums for growing five or more plants with the intent to sell and one-year minimums when marijuana dealing is linked to organized crime or a weapon is used. The bill would also impose mandatory minimum one-year sentences for dealing hard drugs when linked to organized crime or weapons and two-year sentences for dealing hard drugs to minors or near a school or other place where young people congregate.

"The bill is a disaster for Canada," said Jacob Hunter of "S-10 will imprison thousands of Canadians for victimless crimes, send people to jail for growing 6 marijuana plants, making any hashish or baked goods, and a host of other offenses. There is no evidence that S-10 will work," Hunter said. "Indeed, every scientific study says it will fail. We know that prohibition has never worked, and we know that mandatory minimum sentences only increase the violence in our society."

Activists in Canada are working with opposition parliamentarians in the House of Commons to try to block it there. Stay tuned.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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senate pass bill to jail people for 5 pot plants.....

This mean that they will be able to put a lot of people in jail in BC. I don't know the stats of how many people have a few plants at home for their own use.  It will cost a fortune to have enough jails to enforce this.  It will take a lot of court time. And the government is in deficit and wants to save money? Totally irrational and un-enforceable legislation.  Did they consult the police force on this? Will the arresting officer be willing to do all the paper work that  will come with this? as drug charges are usually dealt with in Superior court and not provincial court it will create a bottleneck  unless they decide it that they will let the Provincial courts deal with this.  The Provincial  courts  are already too busy.  They will need more judge etc..... I don't care for the stuff myself but I find this totally ridicule.  But may be this is the kind of issue that will polarize people to organize and to start to pay attention to what the Conservative are  doing in Ottawa.  May be the people will realize that it is important to go vote.

and then they went home and had a drink or three

but alcohol is not a drug, because they say it is not a drug. And cannabis users don't deserve freedom because they say cannabis users don't deserve freedom. And no one takes that silly old stuff about liberty and justice for all seriously so stop wasting your time with that. Be a real American or Canadian, do as your told, and switch to alcohol.


No, the government does not say that alcohol is not a drug.  Please show me any document published by the government that says it is not a drug.  Alcohol is not listed as a scheduled drug under the controlled drugs and substances act, but neither are a bunch of other drugs.  To say that "they say its not a drug" is a lie.

When you spread misinformation like you have, either because of your own ignorance or because you are trying to deceive others, then you are engaging in the very behaviour that prohibitionists have used to prohibits substances like cannabis.

How about Canada not elect a

How about Canada not elect a fucking conservative government twice in a row? I thought their "conservatives" were more like the ones here in Europe, and not like the Republicans in America, but alas, I'm proven wrong.

read everything before commenting

I can see the back lash but i also read what is written.  The punishment is possible when linked with organized crime and intent to sell.  The law is basically making it harder for the criminals to sell the plants and only needing 5 to take it to the courts.  In a technical sense its aimed at the gangs, street dealers and weapons dealers.  I'd have to see the official document to be sure but it seems to take care of the loop holes.  Remember to read every word before assuming this is a bad thing, its actually a good one which could use some editing but the base is strong.

you're kidding right?

We have stricter versions of these laws in america. just ONE plant will land your ass in jail for up to 5 years. and look where we are, overflowing prisons, massive national debt, and growing civil unrest.


there is no possible good that could come out of this law, period.

Read Everything? Reply

Take your own advice and read the law.....6-200 plants =  MANDITORY 6 months...doesn't matter if you are linked to Mary Poppins......

Have another drink......better yet.....leave people alone if they aren't hurting anyone.............Mind Your Own Business.....unless of course your business is busting and brutalizing innocent pot growers/smokers....and you are justifying your job!

read everything before commenting

I can see the back lash but i also read what is written.  The punishment is possible when linked with organized crime and intent to sell.  The law is basically making it harder for the criminals to sell the plants and only needing 5 to take it to the courts.  In a technical sense its aimed at the gangs, street dealers and weapons dealers.  I'd have to see the official document to be sure but it seems to take care of the loop holes.  Remember to read every word before assuming this is a bad thing, its actually a good one which could use some editing but the base is strong.

Anonymous is wrong-headed

Jeez Anonymous why don't you read the freakin' document before going off half-cocked!

The bill says it's to fight gangs but is so poorly written as to scoop up all the low-hanging fruit like little home growers that just want their own meds after not being able to jump through all the hoops that HELLth Canada demands.

I totally agree with most that this bill is so convoluted and destructive as to be useless as written but the hype as promoted by our blessed 5th estate has got all the sheeple disturbed enough to vote for it.

Look at the CBC for crying out loud.  They don't dare say anything about anything that will piss off their employers.  The federal gov't!

Cut backs are so bad that they rely on constant re-runs to keep the dead air out of the system.

I had hopes for the eNDP and the NDP but the NDP especially has broke my heart.  Mr. Layton has done an about-face and is no longer part of my personal voting agenda.

The Liberals are worse and any other parties are next to useless to vote for as they don't have a snowball's chance in hell.

I hate S-10 the way it's written but if they upped it to 5 flowering plants, a dozen or so clones/seedlings and a few mothers I might be able to see it's use as a crime fighting bill to punch down the gangsters.

For a Prime Minister that sang "I get high with a little help from my friends" on national TV he sure seems like a hypocrite to me and not worthy of anyones support.

It's all money tho.  So follow the money and find the cause of this bill.

Just like the scanners at the airports.  It's all money and influence buying.  Billions of dollars are at stake for the TSA and their supporters.

Got your kid molested lately, fly the (un)-friendly skies these days!

There is almost no one in politics with an altruistic mind.  Hasn't been since it started.  It's all about money and power.

They don't mind killing to keep it.  Think JFK.  They are not like you and me.  They are animals fighting for their piece of the pie.

Get your head out of the sand and read about these things.

Then you might even sound like an intelligent person instead of a sock-puppet.



If you think the intent or implementation of this bill is aimed only at organized crime you are either very young or have no experience with the justice system.These bills are always perverted and wind up going after the back alley dope fiend who is only a criminal to feed his habit.This results in a lot of minor convictions and drives the cops nuts.This bill will be used to lengthen their prison time.It was done before and now they plan to do it again.Prison has never cured one addict.I know,I spent a lot of time there the last time we imprisoned our addicts.Harper is a rabid anti drug warrior who thinks it's a war for the souls of our children.Brining back old laws that were a failure already is the reason this drug war drags on year after year.Harper either never does any research or he finds everything he needs in the bible.He is returning us to a time that was brutal,inhuman and useless.That's why he's allotted 6 billion dollars for new prisons.He is aware of the result of this stupidity.He just doesn't care.

the laws may be designed to

the laws may be designed to catch the real baddies but they are framed to catch anyone at all and lazy prosecutors and police will use them inappropriately.  human nature works that way so the laws must be much more specific.

Potential Money Trails

Wingers love prisons.  It’s been estimated that former VP Dick Cheney has more than $60 million invested in the private prison industry.  Concentration camps are popular, too.  As more drug war victims are herded into U.S. prisons, the prisons essentially transform into concentration camps for drug heretics. 

Prisons in the U.S. are a multi-function facility in that regard.  They’re also the last refuge of non-choice in many cases for the mentally ill and the hopelessly destitute.  There is truth in the adage that you can tell a lot about a country by its prisons.

Harper apparently wants to base Canada’s legal system on the same U.S. model.  There are good reasons to suspect the main economic incentive for Harper’s plan is coming from the United States, which leads the world in R&D on various drug war related technologies like drug test kits, police and military equipment and so forth.

Another reason to suspect U.S. economic interests may be at work is that the prison industry and the U.S. government have explicitly stated that they intend to establish a juridical industry in Mexico based on that in the United States, ostensibly to counter the Mexican Drug War.  Given that the prohibition they’re enforcing is responsible for the Mexican Drug War, prison corporatists must laugh themselves silly every time they think about it.

Funding for prison camps is big business for economically deprived rural communities.  People can perform prison jobs who might not qualify to do anything else.  Construction adds to local revenues, and allows for easy opportunities for local graft and corruption.  Kickbacks, bribes, and general pilfering of the funding for prison construction and operation would be utter simplicity without the constant oversight of external auditors, which I doubt exists in most cases.

When we speak of drug wars and prison camps, we’re talking about right wing heaven for the Harpers of the world.  In their binary world of black and white, good and evil, there is room only for the privileged—themselves and a few others.  Let everyone else eat cake.


incorrect information in the article.....

Some incorrect information in the article.....

 "Last year, the bill passed the House, but had been watered down by a Senate amendment raising the bar for mandatory minimums to more than 200 plants. But the bill died before final passage when Prime Minister Steven Harper dissolved parliament. 

This year, after elections strengthened the Conservatives' hand in the Senate, the body of sober second thoughts had no stomach for another fight over the bill, which was reintroduced this spring by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.

 First off, I believe the proposed 200 plant limit would have only applied to farm land.

Second... Canadians did not elect the Senate, .....Harper prorogued parliament and used that time to stack the senate with more of his people. Harper had previously gone on record saying he wouldn't appoint senators, but he is a liar.

Trying to APPEAR tough on crime.

I highly encourage anyone who has been fooled by this "act" of trying to appear tough on crime in order to win easy votes with a buzz phrase to watch the following video: Stephen Harper is running this country straight into the ground. We're becoming an international joke, and the UN Security Council was just the tip of the iceberg.

Conservative Bill S-10 video

Giordano is correct. The drug

Giordano is correct. The drug war exists to line the same corrupt pockets that prohibition of any popular substance does, and the introduction of private, for profit prisons will be soon to follow as the provinces buckle under the financial strain of these laws designed to shift the costs there. Bear in mind that in the spirit of this malicious legislation that a person washing the leaves of one marijuana plant in agitated ice water to collect the small amount of resin at the bottom of a bag is 3 times worse, at 18 months minimum, than a person with 199 plants growing in the basement would get with 6 months minimum. Crown attorneys are surely licking their chops as they will wield power greater than the turnkey judges who are deemed irrelevant under a mandatory minimum structure. I am assuming now, since this is the same rotten bill that has been absolved twice as the Reform/Alliance government chose to stop working and kill this "oh so very important" bill, that the only out will be to send people who smoke marijuana to "drug court", where they will be forced to accept reprogramming under the 12 step model in order to avoid the prison time. Speaking of prorougement, does anybody still believe it had anything to do with Afghan detainee torture? What it was really about was to kill this bill's amendments and the "consumer safety protection" bill (which allows warrant free inspectors to entry private property, freeze assets, charge the person with storage of what they take, and all sort of nasty business that was amended) and simply reintroduce them in their original form with the calculated restructuring of the Senate to be a rubber stamp body of flunkies that simply kowtows to Reform/Alliance evangelical based "morality" wars on subcultures. Let us not forget that the Liberals are complete weaklings with no remaining ideology or convictions, as a true "liberal" would vehemently object to all of this, but they merely bow and say nothing, afraid of the "soft on crime label" that Reform/Alliance constant smear campaigning has confronted them with at every turn. With an electorate made up of voters that are older and were subjected too decades of government propaganda regarding "reefer madness" and then "anti-patriotic pacifism" rushing to polls to bow to their masters whims, and young people too self absorbed and unaware of what is happening, it is no surprise that the witch hunters still try to burn those they hate at the stake. No matter what Harper's Reform/Alliance government does, the electorate laps it up and begs for more, like the mindless drones they are. With a weak kneed "opposition" party like the Liberals, there is no hope they will rise as true intellects would and fight this bill on pure principle in the House. So, after years and years of trying to please all the union and construction contributors that will enjoy the profits from putting more non-violent marijuana culture people behind bars, the Reform/Alliance right wing neo-fascists have finally succeeded. In a country where infrastructure and health care bills rise with quality of service always going down, the taxes will rise to pay for all this, or else be taken away from other services, and it is all so the Harper Reform/Alliance pricks can say "tough on crime! tough on crime!" in their never ending quest for a majority, at which time they would begin moving to outlaw homosexuals, alternative lifestyles, anybody in arts, and all dissenters in their modern dictatorial utopia where anybody who is not a bible thumping, short hair, suit wearing brown nose will be punished. They'll never get a majority, thank goodness. You see, lost in all this is that there are already laws in place to punish the extremes of traffic in drugs. The problem is that judges, closer to understanding the real impact of decision made by the "justice system" based on their years of involvement, are making value judgments about who should go to jail or not. This will never do with the Reform/Alliance agenda of enforced social hegemony. No matter what they do, marijuana users will still buy marijuana. It's funny they pass their "organized crime" stuff quietly in order to further government control of gambling as one side effect, but all this does is benefit organized crime groups of the actual variety who will care nothing to their members doing time while their profits soar, and all the people that truly care about producing healthy marijuana will be cut out. If you grow one plant, sell a gram to a person that rolls up a joint and hands it to another person for a toke, you have a chain of three and are now an organized crime group, by the way, and now the Crown can seize all your assets and rake it in for the government, if they choose to label you organized crime. Way too much power on Crown attorneys now, who will be the attack dogs of the government. They will use this to begin using DEA style strong arm tactics designed to create a society of ratfinks who sell out their friends when they get into trouble for slightly reduced charges. Yup, this is a "really great" legislation if you are in position to profit from it. Lawyers, prison construction companies, the corporations that service prisons, guard unions, politicians, companies that make detection devices for roadside testing (Phillips is one), police unions, and real organized crime groups are smiling today. Wait until the sheep get their tax bills for this. Then they'll start wondering why they are spending so much money to fight against what should be a responsible person's social liberty to choose what they put into their own bodies. Once this passes, it'll be hard to remove and they know it. All along "Jackboots" Nicholson has deflected questions of cost by mumbling "there will be money for this" when they damn well that if the figures came out people would freak. To sum it up, I am absolutely disgusted by all this and it just indicates that we are heading down the road of cultural hegemony enforced by power hungry megalomaniacs hiding behind an evangelical code that instructs them to send all those who don't believe as they do to hell. The country of Canada is conned, and today less free. It'll get worse, mark my words.

Labrat is clueless

> Look at the CBC for crying out loud. They don't dare say anything about anything that will piss off their employers. The federal gov't! <

You obviously have not been reading the CBC for the last few years because many of their articles are obviously critical of the Conservative government.  You comment is funny, because commenters on the CBC complain that the CBC is biased towards the left.  Their evidence of this bias is to point to the sheer volume of comments that are highly critical of the Conservative Government.

S-10 is ostensibly aimed at organized crime, but the differences in mandatory minimums between, for example, trafficking under 1 kg and over 1 kg of a schedule I drug is the difference between 1 and 2 years.  So, the minor traffickers get a minimum of 1 year and the traffickers of over 1 kg of drugs like heroin, cocaine (and MDMA if S-10 passed) get a minimum of 2 years.  The legislation doesn't really target the major players.

Of course, if you get caught sharing a single dose of a schedule I drug with a friend, then this is considered trafficking and you'd face a mandatory minimum of 1 year.  I fear that many young people will end up with mandatory minimum prison sentences due to this legislation.


For those who haven't read the bill, you can find it here:

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