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S-10 Passes Senate

By admin | November 30, 2010

UPDATE: Bill still in Senate, erroneous news reports
see story at:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Senate passes bill with mandatory jail sentence for growing 5 pot plants

By Janice Tibbetts
The Vancouver Sun

The Senate has backed away from a fight with the Conservative government and passed a controversial drug-sentencing bill that would automatically imprison people caught growing five or more marijuana plants.

One year after the upper house watered down proposed legislation by raising the bar to more than 200 plants, a new version of the bill is once again before the Senate and the chamber of sober second thought has decided that the previous amendment would never survive a final vote among MPs.

“It was irrational,” conceded Liberal Sen. George Baker. “It wasn’t going to fly with the Conservatives, and it wasn’t going to fly with the Liberals.”

A Senate-Commons tug-of-war over the bill — to impose mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes for the first time in Canada — began more than a year ago, when the Liberals in the upper chamber enraged Justice Minister Rob Nicholson by altering his bill so that anyone caught with six to 200 pot plants would not go to jail.

The bill was in its final stages when it died after Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament last December.

Nicholson revived his proposed legislation in the spring but ignored the Senate amendment and set the bar back at his original five plants.

The bill was reintroduced in the Senate, which is reviewing the proposals before it sends them to the House of Commons for public hearings and a final vote.

Nicholson’s proposed legislation would impose mandatory six-month terms for growing five or more plants with the intent to sell, and one-year sentences when marijuana dealing is linked to organized crime or a weapon is involved.

Minimum sentences would increase to two years for dealing such drugs as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine to young people, or pushing drugs near a school or other places frequented by youths.

Baker said reviving the Senate amendment of 200 plants was never raised this time around. The Senate dug its heels last year simply to “make a statement” against mandatory minimum jail terms, which he described as “crazy.”

The Liberals proposed a different amendment earlier this month in the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee — to impose jail terms for growing 20 plants or more — but it failed.

Conservatives gained a majority in the Senate this year.


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