Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Harper Stacked Conservative Senate Dangerously Stupid On Crime

The Canadian (Conservative stacked) Senate has obviously disregarded all of the experts who testified against Bill S-10 during Senate Committee hearings, regardless of the evidence and research presented that proves that not only do mandatory minimums for drugs not work - they, along with draconian prohibition laws, cause MORE HARM than good to our society!

Senate Quietly Passes Bill S-10 and Mandatory Minimums For Marijuana

Parents, this is not a bill aimed strictly at cartel kingpins as the Tories would have you believe. No, this wolf in sheep's clothing will have our sons and daughters, aka "easy police prey", thrown in prison because they prefer to use cannabis, a much safer substance than legal alcohol and nicotine filled cigarettes. Many college students will grow a small amount of plants for themselves and a few friends so they don't have to come into contact with drug dealers, certainly this is not Organized Crime! Under Bill S-10 the "serious crime" of baking a batch of Pot Brownies will demand a judge hand down a mandatory minimum sentence of no less than 18 months imprisonment (Seriously.) and even the simple action of passing a joint is
deemed "drug trafficking".

I've stated many times throughout my blog that of course we would prefer our youth to not use any drugs at all, be it alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, cannabis, oxycondon, ecstasy, etc. But the reality is that many will experiment (as millions of us did in our youth) with different substances. In this case, we certainly wish that if they are unfortunately caught by police, they NOT be persecuted and sent to prison with violent criminals! And if your child fell victim to drug addiction, would you rather them receive counselling and rehabilitative help? Or be locked up and punished alongside dangerous felons?

Stand up, Canadian Parents! It's time to get educated - we must refute ideological drug war rhetoric and defend the civil rights and safety of our children! Prohibition legislation creates and causes violence in our neighbourhoods. Let's be the "Smart On Crime" Generation that demands our government put public safety and common sense first - we can start by defeating Bill S-10 in the House of Commons.
I ask that you please contact your Member of Parliament and request that they do the right thing by our kids and fellow Canadians and VOTE NO on Bill S-10!!!

U.S. Surgeon Gen
Joycelyn Elders: Legalize Marijuana!
"We Criminalize People At The Highest Rate In The World!"

"Incarcerex" - Steve's solution to fill Canadian taxpayer
prisons with cannabis consumers.

To learn more about Bill S-10, please visit http://www.WhyProhibition.ca/s10 , http://www.cannabisfacts.ca/mandatoryminimums.html , sign the Petition and also read another post I wrote "Look! Over There! A Shiny Thing!!!" - written before Stephen Harper stacked the unelected Senate with Conservatives. (so much for "Sober Second Thought!")


‎"When the public is provided with more information regarding the law and the circumstances surrounding the offense and the offender, the tendency is not to favour punitive sanctions such as mandatory minimum sentences." ~ "Mandatory Sentences of Imprisonment in Common Law Jurisdictions: Some Representative Models"


"Cannabis use, however, was generally infrequent, with 45.7% of previous-year users reporting use two or fewer times during the previous three months. In addition, most users did not report experiencing serious harm due to their cannabis use."

"For the general population of Canadians, the use of illicit drugs was usually limited to cannabis only. About 28.7% of Canadians reported using only cannabis during their lifetime, and 11.5% used only cannabis during the previous year."

"According to a 2009 report by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, health-related costs per user are eight times higher for drinkers than they are for those who use cannabis, and are more than 40 times higher for tobacco smokers. It states: “In terms of (health-related) costs per user: tobacco-related health costs are over $800 per user, alcohol-related health costs are much lower at $165 per user, and cannabis-related health costs are the lowest at $20 per user.”

"The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) has also published a document outlining the relationship between the perceived seriousness and the actual costs of substance abuse in Canada. The study found that, while the total social costs associated with alcohol are more than twice those for all other illicit drugs, the public consistently rated the overall seriousness of illicit drugs as higher in the Canadian Addiction Survey.

The reasons for this misperception may relate to the fact that alcohol is a legal, socially accepted product that is regularly used by the vast majority of Canadians. While over 90% of Canadians have direct, personal experience with alcohol, only 3% of CAS respondents reported past-year use of the five most popular illicit drugs, so perceptions of risk will likely be inflated for these substances due to the unfamiliarity factor.
The CCSA also points to the police, concerned citizen groups, political leaders and policy makers as those involved in amplifying the perceptions of the risks associated with illicit drug abuse.**"

Mark Ertel, president of the Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa, has said that the measures would strip judges of the ability to apply discretion for mitigating circumstances and could turn Canadian correctional institutions and penitentiaries into US-style inmate warehouses.65 Mr. Ertel argues that automatic jail sentences, with no allowance for mitigating considerations, will inevitably prompt the kind of appeal that led to a 1987 Supreme Court of Canada decision (R. v. Smith) striking down a seven-year mandatory minimum sentence under the now-repealed Narcotic Control Act as cruel and unusual punishment. He also argues that the bill targets the wrong problem as almost all violent crime is alcohol-related, yet liquor manufacturers will not be prosecuted**.

Some opponents of the mandatory sentencing that is a feature of the drug bills have noted that the increase in costs to operate prisons will draw funds away from social programs, like those addressing improved education, health care and child poverty, which reduce crime. Incarceration is seen as poor stewardship of both money and human resources.**

Other opponents of mandatory minimum sentencing have taken note of the fact that the United States, which has championed the use of such sentences for many years, is, in some cases, moving away from them. The thinking is that by depriving judges of discretion and forcing them to apply rigid and arbitrary sentencing rules, the United States built irrationality into its justice system. Yet, even though American courts mete out sentences that are double that of British and three times that of Canadian courts, the US violent crime rate is higher than in those two countries.

In addition, while crime rates in both Canada and the United States have fallen by almost the same amount in recent years, the incarceration rates in the two countries have followed different patterns: in Canada, unlike in the US, there has been no substantial increase in the size of the prison population.

One editorial has noted that, despite 25 years of harsh mandatory minimums, disproportionate numbers of the poor, the young, minorities and the drug addicted have been thrown in US jails with no impact on the drug business itself, which has flourished**.

Opponents of mandatory minimum sentences point to two Department of Justice studies that conclude that such laws are not effective and are increasingly unpopular as crime-fighting measures in other countries. A 2005 study concluded: “There is some indication that minimum sentences are not an effective sentencing tool: that is, they constrain judicial discretion without offering any increased crime prevention benefits.”

A 2002 study, meanwhile, found that mandatory minimum sentences do not appear to deter crime. The reasons for this lack of deterrence include the fact that they bar judges from using their discretion to sentence individuals. As a result, prosecutors and police take up the discretionary role, often choosing not to charge people with offences that would automatically lead to a prison term. Mandatory minimum sentences also sometimes lower conviction rates, as juries refuse to convict accused people facing automatic but seemingly unfair prison terms. Furthermore, while these types of sentences show success in deterring firearms or drunk driving crimes, they appear to have no impact on drug crime. ~
No. 40-3-S10E Legislative Summary of Bill S-10: An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts


In terms of social costs, the vast majority of the social costs of cannabis are enforcement-related while the vast majority of tobacco costs are health-related. The social costs of alcohol are about evenly distributed between health care and enforcement.

In terms of costs per user: tobacco-related health costs are over $800 per user, alcohol-related health costs are much lower at $165 per user, and cannabis-related health costs are the lowest at $20 per user. On the enforcement side, costs for cannabis are the highest at $328 per user—94% of social costs for cannabis are linked to enforcement.** Enforcement costs per user for alcohol are about half those for cannabis ($153), while enforcement costs for tobacco are very low.

The harms, risks and social costs of alcohol, cannabis and tobacco vary greatly. A lot has to do with how the substances are handled legally. Alcohol and tobacco are legal substances, which explain their low enforcement costs relative to cannabis. On the other hand, the health costs per user of tobacco and alcohol are much higher than for cannabis. This may indicate that cannabis use involves fewer health risks than alcohol or tobacco. These variations in risk, harms and costs need to be taken into account as we think about further efforts to deal with the use of these three substances in Canada. Efforts to reduce social costs related to cannabis, for example, will likely involve shifting its legal status by decriminalizing casual use, to reduce the high enforcement costs. Such a shift may be warranted given the apparent lower health risk associated with most cannabis use.**" ~ Cannabis, Tobacco and Alcohol Use in Canada, Comparing risks of harm and costs to society


" The evidence is clear, Cannabis has no lethal dose**, so you can't die from it. The impact on the brain structure for cannabis is nil, but there can be very serious brain function changes with alcohol abuse. Also, more dramatic liver functions are impaired with alcohol. Malnutrition, B-vitamin deficiency, and Korsakoff's Disorder are all linked to alcohol, but not cannabis." ~ Dr. Mitch Earleywine, University of Southern California psychologist, author of "Pot Politics: Marijuana and the Costs of Prohibition","Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence" and "Mind-Altering Drugs: The Science of Subjective Experience."

Please also watch this interview with Dr. Earlywine: SHOW 18: Dr. Mitch Earleywine - Parents' Guide to Marijuana.

And just a little more "fyi":

Kelly McParland: Stockwell Day’s criminal logic

I’m trying hard to take Stockwell Day’s warnings about unreported crime and the need for more jails seriously — I really am — but I can’t say I’m having much luck.

Maybe it’s the linkage that’s causing the trouble, as in, there isn’t any.

Mr. Day maintains that Canada needs more prisons. Specifically, he wants to spent $9 billion building more penitentiaries to hold all the criminals the Harper government intends to round up thanks to its tough-on-crime legislation.

But statistics show that crime is going down. The most recent report, released just a few weeks ago, shows a 17% drop from a decade ago, continuing a trend that has shown an ongoing decline in crime figures for the past ten years.

The data released by Statistics Canada … shows that the overwhelming number of criminal charges involved nonviolent offences. More than 45% of all offences reported in 2009 were for minor thefts such as shoplifting, or mischief. There were still nearly 50,000 people charged with possession of marijuana.

In contrast, homicides, attempted murder, serious sexual assaults and crimes against children, made up less than one quarter of one per cent of all reported offences.

Yet another indicator, the Crime Severity Index, which is a weighted average of criminal offences, is down 22% from the level in 1999.

So why spend billions building prisons when crime is decreasing? Because, claims Mr. Day, unreported crime is rising. And he knows this because Statistics Canada also has a measure that keeps track of crime victims, as opposed to crime reports, and calculates the gap.

The noise you hear is Absurdious, the God of Irony, being stomped to death under the jackboots of Stockwellian logic. First of all, as you may have heard, the Conservatives are in the middle of cancelling the collection of mandatory census data, arguing that voluntary data is just as good. But here we have Minister Day dismissing crime statistics — which are reported voluntarily — as unreliable. (Not all crime stats, mind, just the crime stats he doesn’t like. The crime stats he does like, the ones on unreported crime, are entirely trustworthy.)

Second, if the crimes are unreported, the perpetrators must be unarrested, and therefor the construction of prisons to hold them becomes just a little bit redundant, wouldn’t you say?

Mr. Day, who had managed to re-establish his reputation after his disastrous turn as Canadian Alliance party leader, is getting killed in editorial pages across the country. Montreal’s Gazette wrote that it was disconcerting to see him “scrape the bottom of the logical barrel -indeed, break right through the bottom of it” in trying to justify his prison budget. “Day’s interpretation of statistics is a crime,” said the Edmonton Journal, woy out there in Harper country. Several blogs quoted Mr. Day’s own convoluted words so readers could try to figure out or themselves what he was attempting to say.

Don’t bother. The answer is easy: The Conservatives think tough-on-crime sells well with voters, and if that means building prisons to house non-prisoners for unreported crime, well, who are they to argue? And never mind the eloquent case put forward by the recently-released Conrad Black, who made a powerful argument against following the U.S. down the road of prisons stuffed with oversentenced underlings wasting away at immense cost, with little benefit to the overall good of society.

Nope, logic isn’t going to get us anywhere on this one, folks. You just have to take it on faith. If, that is, you have that much faith in Mr. Day.

National Post
Shared under Educational Fair Use (See below)

**Cannabis has no lethal dose**:

"No acute lethal overdoses of cannabis are known, in contrast to several of its illegal (for example, cocaine) and legal (for example, alcohol, aspirin, acetaminophen) counterparts." - Stephen Sidney, M.D., associate director for clinical research at Kaiser Permanente, in an editorial published 9/20/03 in the British Medical Journal (Vol. 327, pp. 635-635)

"Unlike many of the drugs we prescribe every day, marijuana has never been proven to cause a fatal overdose." - Joycelyn Elders, M.D., former U.S. Surgeon General, in a 3/26/04 editorial published in Rhode Island's Providence Journal

"The estimated lethal human dose of intravenous Marinol is 30 mg/kg (2100 mg/70 kg). Using this estimation of lethal dose, the equivalent inhaled THC would represent the smoking of 240 cannabis cigarettes with total systemic absorption of the average 8.8 mg of THC in each cigarette.

"Since absorption is much less than 100 percent, the amount of smoked marijuana required to reach lethality is on the order of one to two thousand cigarettes."

"The physical impossibility of a fatal overdose using smoked cannabis is obvious." - Denis Petro, M.D., in his 1997 paper "Pharmacology and Toxicity of Cannabis", published in the book "Cannabis in Medical Practice - A Legal, Historical and Pharmacological Overview of the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana", pg 62

"Marijuana has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years, going back to ancient civilizations in Egypt, India and Africa. In all that time, up to and including the present day, there has never been a report of a fatality directly due to the consumption of marijuana.

"In contrast, over 1,000 people die annually in the US from an overdose of our most common non-prescription drug, aspirin. In addition, many thousands of deaths result from the legal prescription drugs.

"After hearing two year's worth of evidence on the presumed dangers of marijuana, DEA Judge Francis L. Young said this: 'marijuana is the safest therapeutically active substance known to man ... safer than many foods we commonly consume.'" - Bill Zimmerman, Executive Director of Americans for Medical Rights

"Drugs used in medicine are routinely given what is called an LD-50. The LD-50 rating indicates at what dosage 50% of test animals receiving a drug will die as a result of drug induced toxicity...

"At present it is estimated that marijuana's LD-50 is around 1:20,000 or 1:40,000. In layman terms this means in order to induce death, a smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette.

"NIDA-supplied marijuana cigarettes weigh approximately 0.9 grams. A smoker would have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about 15 minutes to induce a lethal response. In practical terms, marijuana cannot induce a lethal response as a result of drug-related toxicity." - Judge Francis L. Young wrote in a 1988 decision

"A commonly used over-the-counter product like aspirin has a therapeutic ratio of around 1:20. Two aspirins are the recommended dose for adult patients. Twenty times this dose, forty aspirins, may cause a lethal reaction in some patients and will almost certainly cause gross injury to the digestive system...

"By contrast, marijuana's therapeutic ratio... is impossible to quantify because it is so high." - Judge Francis L. Young wrote in a 1988 decision

"No one has ever died of THC [marijuana] poisoning, mostly because a 160-lb. person would have to smoke roughly 900 joints in a sitting to reach a lethal dose." - Time Magazine in a Nov. 4, 2002 cover story

"Death by overdose isn’t the only danger that drugs present, but it is one important measure. In fact, a study conducted by Kaiser Permanente from 1979-1985 with a follow-up in 1991 found no correlation between marijuana use and death, evidence that even heavy marijuana use for decades does not appear to be associated with major health risks, whereas heavy alcohol users will develop cirrhosis and other potentially fatal conditions." - David Borden, Executive Director of The Drug Reform Coordination Network, wrote MedMJpro/con


Prescription narcotics cause more deaths than both heroin and cocaine

TORONTO, December 7, 2009 - Deaths related to narcotic pain relievers have doubled since 1991: Study

Statistics prove prescription drugs are 16,400% more deadly than terrorists

Side Effects May Include...Coma or Death?!

Big $$$, Big Pharma

I'm just sayin'...

**Bolding is mine

Friday, November 19, 2010

MP Shelly Glover is Not4Me!

"I ask, what parent in their right mind would have their child thrown in prison amongst
truly violent criminals for the "crime" of using drugs?"

This week the Conservative Government released an over the top commercial about your little Bieber-loving teeny bopper getting hooked on drugs. (All of 'em?) Before we know it, she's cutting herself, flashing ghastly lip sores and for some reason is sporting a really bad dye job.

The following is an expansion of my original response to the Maclean's post: Just say no after Shelly Glover went cherry picking in the House of Commons and touting "DARE 2.0":

Prohibition does not keep drugs out of our children's hands. Prohibition leaves drugs to be controlled by the black market, and we all know that drug dealers don't ask for ID. If our Government was truly serious about keeping drugs out of the hands of minors it would legalize and regulate the sale to adults. Any teen will tell you they can purchase pot much more easily than they can get alcohol and cigarettes, because the sale of those substances are controlled.

Shelly Glover needs to do some reading. "Summary from The 2002 Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs:

Many substances, including some common foods, have some level of toxicity. Cannabis presents almost no toxicity and cannot lead to an overdose.

~ Cannabis itself is not a cause of other drug use. In this sense, we reject the gateway theory.

The relationship between cannabis use and delinquency and crime, based on research evidence, we concluded that:

~ Cannabis itself is not a cause of delinquency and crime; and
~ Cannabis is not a cause of violence.
~ Early drug legislation was largely based on a moral panic, racist sentiment and a notorious absence of debate"

Moms, (and Dad's too!) we have to stand up and demand our politicians and police focus on REAL Crime that does hurt our kids, like child abusers and paedophiles. Parents should be demanding the MILLIONS of dollars our government spends every year on enforcing pot growers (Which also entails sending helicopters to search for plants. Say that back to yourself - "sending helicopters to search for plants...". While our country is drowning in the Conservative caused Ocean of Debt your tax dollars are being spent to send cops to fly expensive-to-run machines through the sky to find PLANTS to rip out of the ground after they are spotted. Mother Nature must be so proud!) instead be put towards catching child predators.

It's quite disturbing the Conservatives would rather shovel money towards escalating enforcement and incarceration of cannabis consumers, instead of FACTUAL education and programs that will help kids in our communities. How many universities could have been built (with billions of your tax dollars) while the hellbent Tories are busy planning, implementing and executing prison expansions? How many scholarships for Canadian kids could have been paid for? How many treatment spots would exist for those who desperately need help for addiction instead of the government spending your hard-earned money for enforcement, court, lawyer, incarceration and probation costs of cannabis users?

"As for the jails, who will fill them? she asked. “Is it a case of build it and they will come?”

She suspects what they’ll do to fill those jails is just lower the criminal bar so they will have enough people to fill the jails.
And then they can say,
we told you so.
" ~ Margaret Atwood, Atwood launches assault on gov't with razor-sharp wit

I am truly appalled that we have politicians that trample on our individual freedom and rights, they perpetrate this con under the guise of being "Tough on Crime!". Well, I want our politicians to be SMART about crime and focus their legislative efforts on incarcerating those who truly are a danger to our society. Canadian Moms & Dads, (Grandparents too!) we have to be vocal in this fight, we have to let our parental voices be heard - we deserve to have common sense drug policy in Canada and imprisoning our young people for using or selling a plant is wholly criminal in itself. I ask, what parent in their right mind would have their child thrown in prison amongst truly violent criminals for the "crime" of using drugs?

Our neighbours to the south who have literally 4 more decades of harsher drug laws and Mandatory Minimum Sentencing experience than us have demonstrated that the: "Drug War Continues to Fail Spectacularly - AP: IMPACT: After 40 years, $1 TRILLION, US War on Drugs has failed to meet any of its goals"

I implore my fellow Canadians to learn about Bill S-10 (formerly C-15), and please take note that Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has yet to provide evidence to support this horrendous law. Under Bill S-10 simply baking a batch of pot brownies will get you sentenced to a MINIMUM 18 MONTHS (!!!) in jail, and judges will have NO discretion, no choice but to hand out that insane sentence.

"Calling the Tories Out on Bill C-15 - "The Politics of Fear": http://maryjanecannabian.blogspot.com/2009/11/cal...

"Bill S-10 ~ New Name For Bad Law": http://maryjanecannabian.blogspot.com/2010/05/bil...

"Canadians: Get Up! Stand Up!": http://bit.ly/15enP9 Talkin' "Smart On Crime" post from June 2009

Please contact your Senators and MPs and request they be SMART about crime and vote NO on Bill S-10! For more info visit CannabisFacts.ca S-10 info page and www.whyprohibition.ca.

You may be a mother, Shelly Glover, but you certainly don't speak for me. You see, I like to enlist common sense and listen to things like facts, and evidence regarding drug policy. You can bleat to the sheeple "What about the children!?" all you want, but any Mom who cares enough to put knee-jerk reaction aside in favour of careful research will agree with me - Cannabis Prohibition causes way more harm to our society than actual drug use does. Of course we don't want kids to use drugs, and responsible parents will educate themselves about all drugs, licit and illicit, so we can give our kids the honest to goodness truth and real facts about all drugs because really, it's not the governments job. While I appreciate education about drugs as a public service, our children deserve such important information presented truthfully. If you lie about cannabis, kids are going to think you also lie about much more dangerous drugs, and that in itself is grossly irresponsible!

For parents looking for real facts about drugs, two great sites are Canadian Students For Sensible Drug Policy, who has countered the Conservatives with their own Not4Me website: and CannabisFacts.ca .

www.not4me.org Media Conference April 13, 2010 Part 1:

Part 2:

On April 13, 2010, Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) held a media conference discussing the launch of www.not4me.org, a drug education website created in response to the government's inadequate 'Drugs not4me' campaign. Instead of fear and negative stigma, CSSDP created a drug information website based on honest information and including harm reduction tips. Part 1 features CSSDP staff member Caleb Chepesiuk discussing the shortfalls of the federal government's approach. Part 2 features CSSDP board of directors member Tamara Kalnins discussing www.not4me.org

Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico, talk about the futility, violence and devastation to children caused by the War on Drugs as well as the availability of tested, safe alternatives. ~ Watch Part 2: Retired cop and former Governor speak out against War on Drugs . Find more great LEAP videos here: CopsSayLegalizeDrugs YouTube channel.



Realistically only a small percent(1) of Canadians develop an addiction to hard drugs, and because I actually took the time to attend an informative presentation/meeting about InSite I recall a cruel truth - a harsh fact is that many hard drug users are sadly*victims of violence, people who had been physically assaulted, sexually assaulted, who had witnessed violence, or who had family members with alcohol or substance abuse problems.

"Poverty, homelessness, lack of education, family dysfunction and parental substance misuse, mental health problems, and a history of child abuse are all social determinants that place people at higher risk of misusing drugs or of injecting drugs.
Individuals who develop alcohol and other drug addiction are still stigmatized in Canadian society. Canadians who inject drugs are even more stigmatized, as they are, by and large, rejected by society because of the illegal nature of their behaviour, their sometimes disorganized lives, and their vulnerability to diseases. They are often labeled as difficult to manage, disruptive and manipulative. A significant portion of society views them as lesser persons - criminals and derelicts. These attitudes and misconceptions have resulted in a variety of harms, including public apathy, undiagnosed mental illness and inaccessible treatment (2) and rehabilitation programs.
It is estimated that up to 125,000 people in this country inject drugs. This includes an estimated 25,000 Canadians who inject steroids. "
~ Where did I find this? Why, right here.


"About 73% of federal dollars on drug policy in Canada go toward enforcement. Only 2.6% goes to prevention, only 2.6% goes to harm reduction and about 14% to treatment. That is a very uneven balance."
~ MP Libby Davies

Updated Nov. 21st to include the Margaret Atwood article.

UPDATE 2: November 24th.
MP Marlene Jennings, Official Opposition Critic for Justice and the Attorney General, has released this statement on criminal justice concerning the punitive, tunnel-vision "Tough on Crime!" Torie mantra. Here is an excerpt:

"In the 2010 budget the government slashed Grants for the Victims of Crime Initiative by 43% and the Contributions to the Victims of Crime Initiative by 34%. This money would have gone directly to community groups that help victims recover from trauma. Furthermore, the government’s Fall 2010 advertising report showed that $6 million was set aside to produce an advertising campaign directed at victims of crime, while funding for the Victims of Crime Initiative last year amounted to just under $4 million. The ad campaign is shockingly hypocritical, since the Conservatives have spent more money on the ads than they have on actual initiatives to help victims of crime."**

Update 3:‎"Not exactly an accurate reflection"
Critics slam the Tories’ new anti-drug campaign, Macleans magazine, December 3, 2010.

UPDATE 4: The Conservative Government has decided to roll all of their crime bills into one huge Omnibus Bill and have vowed to pass this within 100 days of Parliament resuming. Read Goar: Timely warning for Canada about prisons and please visit CannabisFacts.ca to find out more. You can also contact your Member of Parliament regarding the Omnibus Bill - let them know we do not want Canadians to suffer the dire consequences of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing!
Blog updated/edited September 17, 2011.

Update 5 October 27, 2011
: New post up about Omnibus Bill C-10, "Canadians: Don't Be Tricked by the "Safe Streets and Communities Act"
- It's Omnibusted
!" ~ http://maryjanecannabian.blogspot.com/2011/09/canadians-dont-be-tricked-by-safe.html
and Parents PLEASE READ "The mandatory minimum mess" by Dan Gardner: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/mandatory+minimum+mess/5559692/story.html
"And remember the phrase "real property that belongs to a third party"? That's what a rented apartment is. Imagine a university student living in a rented apartment with her boyfriend, suggests University of Toronto criminologist Tony Doob. She grows a single marijuana plant. She rolls a joint for her and her boyfriend. And just like that she's a "trafficker" subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of nine months in jail.

Are these outcomes simple, clear, and predictable? Hardly. They're shocking as hell. But mandatory minimums have a nasty tendency to do that."

"Incarcerating people for relatively minor marijuana offences is “cracking a nut with a sledgehammer.”

I'm asking all Moms (and Dad's and Grandparents too!) to participate in a Bill C-10 Protest: via @Leadnow:Canadians are standing together against a fill-the-prisons approach to justice that has failed everywhere it’s been tried.
Join a coalition of groups for two days of action to speak out against the cruel Crime Bill. Time is running out to make Canada safer, not meaner - we need you to help us all make a big impact.
Where: Our MP’s local constituency offices.
When: Focus on Thursday at 1pm, with actions throughout Thursday and Friday.
We’re going to tell our MPs: Don’t mess up like Texas. Stop the cruel Crime Bill.
Go to http://www.leadnow.ca/stop-the-crime-bill to find out the location closest to you. Thanks, MaryJane.

Update 3/2013: Sadly, the Omnibus Bill is now law in Canada.
*While Steve didn't say exactly the words in this meme,
he didn't have to; pushing the bill so vehemently proves to us
that he supports Canadians serving jail time
for baking pot brownies (cannabis edibles).


(1)- Canada's population as of November 2010 is
34, 252, 000+
(StatsCan Population Clock)

(2) Mentally ill offenders swamping prisons

**Bolding is mine.

*Several studies demonstrate that raped or sexually assaulted women and adolescents display substantial increases in drug, alcohol, and nicotine use and abuse. Prospective data from the National Women's Study (Kilpatrick, et al., 1997) demonstrate that rape and physical assault increase risk of alcohol and drug abuse in previously non-abusing women.

Investigators have suggested that violence plays a role in adolescent and adult substance abuse. In these conceptualizations, substance use represents a strategy to cope with the stress produced by interpersonal aggression . Hypothetically, distress produced by assault drives individuals to engage in behaviors that reduce negative emotions, such as situational avoidance or drug use . That is, use or abuse of substances following assault may be an effective, but maladaptive, strategy to diminish negative affect. Support for this learning-theory model is provided by studies that demonstrate an association between affect regulation and substance use . The coping theory of substance use presupposes that increased negative affect following exposure to stressors, as opposed to stressor exposure, per se, increases the likelihood and intensity of use. Clinically significant reactions to negative life events, such as those manifested in symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), might be expected to have strong relationship with substance use behaviors. Using data from the National Women's Study (NWS), Epstein, Saunders, Kilpatrick, and Resnick (1998) found support for this hypothesis by demonstrating that the relationship between childhood rape and adult alcohol abuse was mediated by PTSD. ~

Cherry picking, when used figuratively, refers to selective extraction of points in an argument in order to refute or affirm them while ignoring others which will not support the point(s) being made. Often, these cherry-picked factoids or references will be over-extrapolated and oversold to give the impression that they are representative, when they are not.

(Burnam et al., 1988; Kilpatrick et al., 2000; 2003; Miller, Downs, Gondali, & Keil, 1987; Miranda et al., 2002; Polusny & Follette, 1995; Rheingold et al., 2004; Simpson & Miller, 2002). (Kilpatrick et al., 1997).
~ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1986828/
( Bean, 1992 ; Brown, 1989 ; Dembo et al., 1987 ; Ireland & Widom, 1994 ;
Lindberg & Distad, 1985 ). ( Kilpatrick, Acierno,
Resnick, Saunders, & Best, 1997 ). (e.g., Brown, 1989 ; Hernandez, 1992 ; Levenson, Oyama, & Meek, 1987 ; Stasiewicz & Maisto, 1993 ; see also Stewart, 1996 ).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Like The Borg, SaveCalifornia Thinks You Must Be Assimilated

Have you seen this, for lack of a better word and a chance of sounding crass, BS?
Oppose Legalizing Marijuana (Prop. 19)

From marijuanaharmsfamilies.com: "Marijuana bosses are moving beyond "medicinal marijuana" and now want to usher in a FULL-BLOWN marijuana culture to forever change California (Prop. 19). They want the next generation to think it's "normal" to "get high"!" "Studies show marijuana is a gateway drug to cocaine and meth. Teens and young adults are especially at risk from today's potent, mind-altering marijuana, which can permanently damage their developing brains and young lungs. If pot is legalized, your health and auto insurance will likely cost more because increased addictions, accidents, and drug rehab will burden all Californians. “Drugged driving” will become commonplace. It will be a new "right" to get high on marijuana at work, even in transportation jobs. Marijuana legalization means cities and counties can OK selling pot in grocery stores and permit marijuana operatives to buy thousands of acres of farmland. " -

"Marijuana Operatives!"  "Marijuana bosses?"  "Gateway to Crystal Meth!?"  Please! As we head towards November 2nd. and the vote for Prop 19 initiative to legalize cannabis for adults on the California ballot, please take heed of the rampant propaganda running amok. While there's so much ignorance and misinformation in this video that it would take me quite awhile to break it all down, I'd like to point out this particular thorn: the main reason for the high numbers of young people in rehab for cannabis is because once busted for pot possession they are often presented with two choices: Go to Rehab or go to Prison. Which one would you choose? Also noted is that the ability to rate and comment features have been disabled for this video. Convenient eh.

So, being irked I decided to do a little googling about the group marijuanaharmsfamilies.com and came upon SaveCalifornia, an arm of SaveAmerica and the Campaign for Children and Families, responsible for posting the video. "SaveCalifornia.com is your pro-family organization dedicated to defending and representing the values of parents, grandparents and concerned citizens who believe in family, faith and freedom. Based on the Left Coast, SaveCalifornia.com, along with our national arm, SaveAmerica.com, works, leads and fights in the media, culture and government on behalf of marriage and family, parental rights, the sanctity of human life, religious freedom, financial freedom, and real education for children."

Along with fighting Prop 19, the Savers also supported Prop 8 and release statements like: "This is just the beginning of this new, blatant and perverse indoctrination of children via Harvey Milk Gay Day. “Milk Day” is designed to teach children they may be homosexual, bisexual or transsexual, and that they should support political activism to destroy marriage and family and religious opposition to the harmful “LGBTQ” agenda. It will increase even more next year, and then Harvey Milk’s indoctrination will manifest in many more government schools in 2012 when May 22 finally falls on a school day, Monday. Parents and grandparents, I plead with you to rescue your children and grandchildren from immoral education and awful peer pressure. Harvey Milk Gay Day is just one of 6 school sexual indoctrination measures passes in the last several years. And there’s a raft of other pressing reasons to save children from government-run schools."

Randy Thomasson of the Savers and the Campaign for Children and Families once compared county clerks who offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples to "Nazi officers during WWII [who] had been ordered to gas the Jews."


Thomasson blames the acceptance of cannabis, gay rights, and a womans right to choose on "dumbed down" voters and government (Public) schools: "DUMBED-DOWN VOTERS - Elections used to be about what kind of government we would get. Now I think elections are more about what kind of people we are. Hear me on this. Most voters went to government schools where knowledge of the written United States and California Constitutions are NOT taught. Nor are the historical Christian convictions of our founding fathers and the Judeo-Christian foundation of the U.S. Constitution. Instead, most government school graduates are taught that God should be kept in the closet, that evolution is fact, and that feelings are as important, as or even more important, than hard facts (which is why some school districts don’t even give A-F grades anymore). Ignorance makes people easy prey."

Californian voters, he says "are not as virtuous or morally principled as they used to be." "Today, the main influence upon the minds and hearts of children is government schools, with dumbed-down academics, political correctness, anti-God and anti-morality sentiments, negative peer pressure and now even hints of socialistic teaching. Public schools these days don’t teach the Christian foundation of our government, which is why many voters today support immorality and socialism. The best thing parents and grandparents can do for their children and grandchildren is to permanently remove them from the government school system so they can develop good character, critical thinking and learn to stand for truth." "FACT: California laws have changed so radically in the last few years, your child WILL be sexually indoctrinated and subjected to very negative influences if left in the government school system. Take action. Rescue your child now, before it's too late." ~ rescueyourchilddotcom, a project of SaveCalifornia

The Savers want you to: "Target the culture: Work to change the culture at the same time you work to reform the government. Encourage more parents to home-school. Invite union workers to resign from the anti-family unions so they don’t fund anti-family, anti-life political candidates or campaigns. Promote sexual abstinence among church children and all schoolchildren, and sexual purity in general. Work to clean pornography out of your community. Visit employers to encourage them to promote man-woman marriage in their businesses for the benefit of their product/service as well as their employees." as highlighted in their missive 10 WAYS TO BUILD A PRO-FAMILY ARMY.

"Hold regular meetings" they say. "Consider a bi-weekly movie night where you show a patriotic or spiritual message or "classic film with a message" (*Reefer Madness, perhaps?) movie in a large house or church hall. Bring the DVD and popcorn, and provide a brief introduction and lead a discussion afterward to educate and provide examples from the movie. This is where you sign up more people to join your army. Sign up teenagers too and make sure you have them join your email list, mailing list, Facebook and Twitter pages, if you have them."

They highlight videos from single mothers, one with 7 kids who says marijuana addiction(!) destroyed her life. (Even though she was doing crank and meth and continuing to have kids - but yeah, it was all the fault of the "evil gateway drug" marijuana.)  She herself stated she made bad choices. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Cannabis doesn't make you try harder drugs, never once have I ever puffed on a joint and thought "Hey! Now I gotta try me some heroin!".  Her own decisions and choices led to her addiction of hard drugs - not cannabis, it's like blaming Twinkies and KFC Double Downs for that extra 10 pounds you gained, not the fact that you chose to shove them down yer piehole.

Even though I'm an Atheist I'm not anti-religion in the sense that if people want to believe in a god that's their perogative and who am I to say what you should believe or who you may believe in. Some of my very best friends in the whole world are very religious, one is even married to a pastor and teaches Sunday School, the difference between them though and the Randy Thomasson's of the world is that they aren't condemning everyone who does not think like them as deviant sinners. Judgy Judgersons belonging to any religious brigade who profess diatribes like "It's our way or way or the highway, veer away from our conservative status quo and yer evil and trying to bring society down!" just seems so... blasphemous** to me....

I'm also not "anti-family", I'm a married mother with 5 wonderful sons and promote strength in the family unit - however that unit is made up. I am for personal autonomy and freedom. People have the right to love who they love right along with what substances they ingest. I don't need a zealot like Randy Thomasson inciting hatred in the name of a god and telling me how to vote, and certainly not how to raise my children!

I teach my kids love, compassion, tolerance, respect, responsibility and acceptance - they know not everbody is the same and being different is what makes all of us special in our own way. Now that's a part of building a strong family unit. And wouldn't you know it, I came up with those values all on my own, because that's just a part of being a good parent, and a good person, regardless of religion.

So. Voting, Gay, Atheist, Pro-Choice, Cannabis Consumers With Kids Attending Public Schools in California and the People Who Love You for Who You Are - you are officially SaveAmerica''s #1 Enemy. Take that info with you into the voting booth on November 2nd. Just Say Now and be the generation who ends destructive Cannabis Prohibition!

C'mon now, Mama said.


"So many things in life come down to people making personal decisions for themselves. We don't always make the best choices, but such is life, and each experience - great or small, right or wrong, happy or sad - shapes the person we become. Everyone has regrets and can question their actions (did I really wear that top to that party back in grade 11? What was I thinking??!!??) and hindsight is 20/20. But that is the beauty of life, it's a journey, sometimes it's bumpy and sometimes it's smooth sailing and in the end each of us owns the road we've travelled down. There are different views of "The Meaning of Life", and no two people have the exact same philosophies and I think that's wonderful, otherwise this would be one really boring existence. What would be the point of a life with no individuality and no personal autonomy? The geek in me rejoyces that we are not living in Hives of The "Borg" - I subscribe to a more "Browncoat/Independent/Resist The Alliance" way o' life."

The Borg is a collective, meaning that they—or it—possess a single mind. That Borg mind has the single intent of “assimilating” all organic species into the collective. The Borg are utterly without mercy or compassion. In a collective society only the needs of the group as a whole are considered, and in this utilitarian calculation the needs of the unrivaled number of Borg will nearly always override any other considerations.

The Alliance (from Firefly/Serenity) A scene at an Alliance school, where a teacher sadly muses that it's hard to understand why the benighted Independents, the secessionists, have resisted the attempt to bring them the gifts of civilization. Young River Tam knows:

"We meddle... people don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don't run, don't walk. We're in their homes and in their heads, and we haven't the right. We're meddlesome." ~ River Tam
~MaryJane Cannabian, from my post Science Trumps Ideology


*(Reefer Madness, perhaps?) - My suggestion, mwahahahaha.

**the Latin Vulgate employs the word blasphemare to designate abusive language directed either against a people at large (2 Samuel 21:21; 1 Chronicles 20:7) or against individuals (1 Corinthians 10:30; Titus 3:2).

Post Links: Oppose Legalizing Marijuana (Prop. 19) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7K5oYlqMXw&feature=related
marijuanaharmsfamilies.com - http://www.marijuanaharmsfamilies.com/
Prop 19, Just Say Now by Students for Sensible Drug Policy - http://justsaynow.firedoglake.com/
savecalifornia.com on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/savecalifornia ALERT: Defend Prop. 8, rescue schoolchildren, get equipped to vote - http://savecalifornia.com/blog/?p=1126
Why did Californians vote that way? - http://savecalifornia.com/blog/?p=1141 RescueYourChild - http://rescueyourchild.com/
10 WAYS TO BUILD A PRO-FAMILY ARMY - http://savecalifornia.com/images/stories/PDFs/10_ways_to_build_a_profamily_army_032609.pdf
Good As You: Randy Thomasson Roundup - http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/randy_thomasson
Thomasson: School 'Milk' will turn your kids gay - http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/2008/08/thomasson-schoo.html
Lei Green, 32, Single-mother of seven - http://www.cadfy.org.php5-13.websitetestlink.com/test/index.php/in-their-own-words
"Mama said" - Moms For Marijuana - http://www.momsformarijuana.com/ Science Trumps Ideology - http://maryjanecannabian.blogspot.com/2009/11/science-trumps-ideology.html

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sam's The Man! Medical Cannabis Activist Lights Up The House of Commons

Cannabis patient-turned-activist Samuel Mellace is interviewed on CBC's Power & Politics about smoking pot as Question Period wrapped up yesterday. Mr. Mellace is bringing attention to the disastrous state of Health Canada's Medical Marijuana Program. Read more here. (CTV News)

Please don't forget how law enforcement treats medical cannabis users in Canada. Mr. Mallace's fears are warranted.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

An Utter Lack of Compassion & Common Sense

The news broke today: Quebec Police RAID all Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Quebec.

Angry and saddened, I left a comment after the story: Medical marijuana clubs raided in Montreal:

Do the police have nothing better to do than raid Compassion Clubs that help sick people? Have all the murderers and rapists and domestic abusers and paedophiles been caught in Quebec that shutting down Cannabis Dispensaries are the police priority?

Cannabis has never killed anyone but Big Pharma drugs have - should we be forced to take these narcotics where the side effects include death? BTW, legal prescription medications are the 4th. leading cause of death in Canada, including deaths in hospital settings - but Cannabis is the "bad" drug? The hypocrisy is astounding.

"Side Effects May Include...Coma or Death?!"

Damaging the CALM

International Researchers Reveal Medical Cannabis Breakthroughs!

And please, for everyone here commenting and voicing their disapproval about Cannabis prohibition, please contact your MP about Bill S-10 - the Tories are trying to introduce even tougher laws for Cannabis: "Bill S-10 ~ New Name For Bad Law"

even though: Drug War Continues to Fail Spectacularly - AP: IMPACT: After 40 years, $1 trillion, US War on Drugs has failed to meet any of its goals. -

And again I'd like to post:

"The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community." ~ The Charter for Compassion

Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP)

CSSDP Statement on Compassion Club Raids

Already in 2010 several medical marijuana compassion clubs have been raided by police in Iqaluit, Guelph, Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec City. Staff have been given or threatened with criminal trafficking charges. Patients unfortunate enough to be inside at the time of the raids have been detained, questioned, and charged for attempting to access medicine that has been produced safely and responsibly. The clubs have had their contents confiscated, crippling their ability to conduct business, and more importantly denying patients safe and secure access to medication.

Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) is firmly opposed to these raids. We are firmly opposed to the use of police enforcement against the only real challenge to organized crime, responsible regulation. CSSDP is firmly opposed to the war on drugs, as it has clearly become a war on the sick, a war on youth, a war on people of colour and people living in poverty, a war on communities in Canada and around the world.

Compassion clubs exist because the Canadian government has refused to update the Medical Marijuana Access Regulations so that the regulations work for patients, and not against them. Thousands of Canadians who use cannabis medically depend on compassion clubs for secure access to safely and responsibly produced medicine. Why? One reason is because Health Canada only offers one strain of cannabis, despite the fact that there are hundreds of varieties, with differing benefits, which treat different ailments.

Robert Ling, president of the McMaster CSSDP chapter is one of these Canadians who depend upon compassion clubs for safe access to safe medicine. When asked about the raids, he stated

“The raids going on throughout Canada are a travesty for anyone who needs medicinal cannabis. I waited 12 weeks for my last MMAR renewal, so I had to live in fear, worrying that a trip to a compassionate center to get the medicine my doctor has prescribed may end me up in jail. This is another example of how medical cannabis users are discriminated against. The Canadian government and police departments all over Canada have to realize that jailing sick Canadians gets us nowhere. A lot of people, like myself, are productive because of the cannabis they use. Without this vital medication, I am usually bed ridden and forced to live out my day in extreme pain. Cannabis has allowed me to be productive through some of the worst pains I have experienced in my life. I was able to finish two years of intensive university school work in part thanks to this drug. Disabled Canadians deserve a productive life like everyone else and this definitely is not the case when we raid compassionate centers which provide sick Canadians the medicine they need. Raiding compassionate centers will only force sick people like me to go back on the streets picking up the medication we need from black market sources. This has to stop!”

Compassion clubs provide a necessary medical service for thousands of Canadians. CSSDP calls for an end to these raids and that there be appropriate legal protection for medical marijuana compassion clubs. ~
Originally published HERE, please visit their website for more great links and info regarding Canadian Drug Policy.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Death for Plants is Insanity

My comment submitted at the end of the article:

Chinese drug traffickers condemned to death

This is a tragedy - no one should ever be put to death for Cannabis! Cannabis is a plant less harmful than alcohol, tobacco and many prescription narcotics that is not worth much - it is only made valuable because of its prohibition. If Government regulated its sale people would not sell it in the black market.

Cannabis is also a medicine that has been used for thousands of years and indeed has helped many people overcome pain from cancer treatments. Cannabis Hemp is also valuable as a food, fabric, paper, textile and biofuel and should be used the world over to help our environment. Shen Neng first wrote about Cannabis in China over 2700 years ago and it is disrespectful to our ancestors to shun and criminalize and kill people over a plant that used to be such an integral part of our lives.

People have been using Cannabis for thousands of years and no laws will ever stop Mother Nature from growing it, or people from using it. The smart thing to do is regulate it so organized crime can no longer profit from its sale.

It is time the "War on Cannabis" is ended and we set all Cannabis prisoners free - it is just not right to kill people over a plant! ~MaryJane Cannabian

Addendum: Please also read a prior post I wrote about other Cannabis sellers put to death "(Selling) Weed Kills - Law, Religion & The War on Cannabis and join the Facebook Group World Against Death Penalty For Cannabis. Thanks, MaryJane

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Black's On Track

I left a comment on the National Post website after reading the brilliant article "Canada's inhumane prison plan" by Conrad Black in todays edition. I've extended it here though to add even more links and info.

I'm thankful that Mr. Black has addressed the Consevative "Tough on Crime!" agenda, it is a subject deserving of the attention of all Canadians. (And just an FYI - over the past 19 years crime in Canada has been declining after a spike in 1991.) As a non-violent offender in an American jail, I believe his POV is something we should take into consideration as the Tories are following down the road of US style Mandatory Minimum Sentences and are also disregarding the time people spend in the harsh conditions of Canadian Correctional Remand Centres. ( Under the newly passed Tory legislation *Bill C-25, remand time will become longer than sentenced time — though remand inmates are still considered to be innocent until proven guilty. There have been preliminary estimates that the total price tag will be between $7 billion and $10 billion over five years. A majority of the costs fall on the provinces.

The Conservatives are blatantly playing "The Fear Card" which would surely make Harry J. Anslinger proud. In Canadian politics the fear-appeal is becoming increasingly rampant and widespread. I ask you to remember the following: whenever you hear any person in a position of legislative power and that person (or party) agitates the public's fear of crime and proposes that supporting a bill will reduce the perceived threat, he or she may be using this tactic as a means to induce fear and to imply that other people or parties are not concerned with crime and community safety.

“Since the Canadian government justifies this criminalization, in part, as a means of protecting our youth, we are standing up and saying, ‘not in our name.’” ~ Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy

and from Stupid Is As Stupid Does:

MP Mark Holland: "The Harper government claims to be "tough on crime," but their discredited U.S.-style policies on crime and punishment are making Canadians less safe.

Their ineffective and costly plan, entitled A Roadmap to Public Safety, should more accurately be entitled A Roadmap to Public Disaster.

Modelled after failed American policies even diehard Republicans now admit are an abject failure, it will result in more prisons and longer sentences, while doing nothing to reduce recidivism. When over 90% of the prison population will be released, the Harper government's failure to seriously invest in vital programming needed for rehabilitation and reintegration, including substance abuse treatment and mental illness care, is nothing short of reckless." -

I'd also like to add that the Consevatives have not produced any evidence or research that proves these "Tough on Crime" measures are effective in keeping people safer or reducing crime. Our neighbours to the South have been down this failed road.... why would Stephen Harper want to follow down the same doomed path, and at great expense to Canadian Taxpayers? (Read "House passes billions of dollars in crime bills, doesn’t know full costs")

I'm no bleeding heart either, I'm a firm believer in harsh and long punishment for criminal perpatrators that truly deserve it - for convictions of murder, rape, vehicular manslaughter, domestic and child abuse, paedophelia, child abduction, etc. - crimes that truly harm the physical and emotional well being of our fellow human beings. But the Tories are not distinguishing the difference between violent criminal acts and non-violent offenses. They are lumping all acts together 'cause you know, that "CRIME!" word is super scary and it's a great vote getter too. They are depending and praying on your fear. Please don't be fooled.

Apologizing for Writing Bad Drug Laws:

18 January 2010 — Former Capitol Hill staffer Eric Sterling discusses the negative effects that drug laws he wrote are having on families and society. Mr. Sterling is now a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (L.E.A.P), which any citizen can join for free at www.leap.cc . Watch more LEAP videos on their YouTube Channel : CopsSayLegalizeDrugs


"When you come to these kinds of issues, I think a good deal of humility is in order. These reforms have stood the test of time. It was for later generations of politicians to take a more incautious, exclusive, dogmatic stand to treat other opinions as if they were, if not illegitimate at least somehow "beyond the pale," and they polarized opinion. To the extent that opinion was polarized by those, if I may put it this way, on the left, it provoked an equal and opposite reaction from those on the right — wedge issues. Then we come to a situation in which one group of politicians is pointing a finger and saying, "They are soft on crime" with another group saying, "These fellows are hangers and floggers."

It is lunacy. If one hears people saying those things in Parliament, in Canadian politics, about each other, you know you are listening to lunatics. There is no other way of putting it. It is nuts." ~ Senator Murray


*Bill C-25 :
Third reading of Bill C-25, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (limiting credit for time spent in pre-sentencing custody) Statement made on 21 October 2009 by Senator Serge Joyal

Hon. Serge Joyal:

Honourable senators, this issue of Bill C-25 is a serious one. Surrounding this bill there has been a lot of — I will use a word that I do not like to use on the Senate floor — "politicking," which is essentially concentrating attention on political slogans instead of looking at the merits of the bill. My intention this afternoon, in reply to Senator Wallace, is to concentrate on the merits of the bill and avoid any politicking or political slogans.

The problems I have with this bill are threefold. The first one relates to the Charter. This bill has three serious Charter implications. I am not inventing them for honourable senators this afternoon; I draw those conclusions from the testimony of five experts that we heard. I will quote from them later in my intervention this afternoon.

Second, this bill will have a serious impact on the condition prevailing in the prisons for the inmate population and the staff that is there to maintain order and serve them.

Third, this bill will affect drastically the most vulnerable in the prison system, namely, people suffering from mental disorders, Aboriginal people and women. As an aside on the bill's impact, we heard from the president of the Canadian Association of Crown Counsel that it will clog the bail courts. That is not the impact that is wanted by those who drafted the bill. I totally recognize the objectivity of their intentions, but that impact is what we heard from the expert witnesses.

Let me return to my first point: This bill will have serious impact on the Charter and will be open to challenge in the courts.

As senators, it is one of our duties, when we are called upon to support the bill, to question its implications for the Charter. In the respected intervention of our esteemed colleague, Senator Wallace, neither yesterday nor today did he answer those issues that were raised by the witnesses, which the honourable senator well knows — as do Senator Nolin, Senator Angus and Senator Carignan, who sat during the long hours that we spent studying this bill.

Honourable senators, let me report what we heard from those experts. First, we heard from Michael Spratt of the Criminal Lawyers' Association that:

Bill C-25, if passed, will result in constitutional litigation. Bill C-25 offends the Charter. It will have the real effect of doing something that we do not seek to do in sentencing. In sentencing, we seek to treat like offenders who commit like offences in similar ways.

One can imagine a number of scenarios where like offenders who commit like offences and who have like personal circumstances are punished differently. One of those punishments is spending an inordinate amount of time in remand facilities with no programming and harsh conditions, much like the individuals who did not get their bail hearing today. They are not receiving programming. . . .

Pre-sentence detention is not lenient, it is cruel.

The impact of this bill is that it will treat people who are in remand differently than people who will be sentenced, having been freed once the charge is laid. That is one side effect of the bill as it is drafted.

Mark Lapowich, from the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, stated:

I do not think there will be any doubt . . . that there will be Charter challenges. In terms of specific challenges, we can envision challenges under section 7, deprivation of, life, liberty . . .; and a challenge under section 11(b), undue delay. We can see stay applications being brought; and, as was mentioned previously, for cruel and unusual, in terms of your specific point that you raised with respect to how horribly we have done in the past 50 years in relation to upholding treaties that we may be part of.

In other words, there will be Charter challenges on the basis that the sentence applied to one accused will be different from the one applied to another accused with exactly similar circumstances but in a totally different context. That situation offends the natural justice principle that people who are guilty of the same offence under the same circumstances should be given the same sentences and should bear the same consequences.

Let me quote, honourable senators, from another of those representatives from the objective groups that we normally hear from. The secretary of the national criminal justice section of the Canadian Bar Association, Eric Gottardi, said:

I think the prospects of constitutional challenges to the legislation are quite high. I think they could be many and varied. . . . I think the likelihood is quite high that that there will be constitutional challenges of different kinds.

That view is from the Canadian Bar Association.

We then heard testimony from the president of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, Lucie Joncas, who said:

I am also concerned about whether such a practice would be considered constitutional. Given that, in 2000, the Supreme Court recognized that it was perfectly justified, and given that detention conditions at provincial level have deteriorated significantly, I do not see how the practice can be said to be no longer justified.

What are the court decisions that those experts refer to? They are essentially the unanimous court decisions of at least four appeal courts of provinces: the Court of Appeal of Quebec — from which I will quote immediately; the Court of Appeal of Alberta; the Court of Appeal of British Columbia; and the Supreme Court of Canada.

What does the Supreme Court of Canada rule on that principle of one for one — one day in pre-sentence custody versus one day once an offender is sentenced in regular prison?

I quote from the decision of R. v. Wust, a unanimous decision in 2000, at paragraph 45, which states:

In the past, many judges have given more or less two months credit for each month spent in pre-sentencing detention. . . . The often applied ratio of 2:1 reflects not only the harshness of the detention due to the absence of programs, which may be more severe in some cases than in others, but reflects also the fact that none of the remission mechanisms contained in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act apply to that period of detention. "Dead time" is "real" time.

In lay terms, what does that paragraph mean? It means that when someone is in remand custody, that person has no access to rehabilitation programs. The time that person is kept in pre-sentence custody cannot be counted as time toward conditional release — parole release. The person does not benefit from any of those programs that exist once an offender is in prison serving a sentence. The person experiences harsher conditions in pre-sentence custody than if that person is in jail once the sentence has been imposed by the judge. This is an important element and one that the Canadian Bar Association, under the signature of its chair, responded to on September 15, indicating that unjustified disparity in sentencing could result from the passage of Bill C-25.

The Canadian courts have upheld the principle that judges must take into account the different time and the quality of that time when prisoners are held under pre-sentence conditions as opposed to being held in jail. Let me quote the decision of the Court of Appeal of Quebec of 2005, a decision for which appeal was sought in the Supreme Court of Canada, which appeal was denied. In other words, that decision of the Court of Appeal is seen by the Supreme Court of Canada as being definitive. I quote from paragraph 40.

Thus, there are two primary reasons for this practice: the harsher conditions of interim detention and the impossibility of being granted parole during this time. That is why interim detention has become known as "dead time."

One of the most eloquent conclusions of that decision is found at paragraph 42.

Furthermore, the 2 to 1 ratio cannot be considered an advantage for the accused.

This is very important. Some people have the perception that the two-for-one or the one-for-one-and-a-half is a benefit, a premium. With that option comes the perception that it can be stretched, but this is not what the court has ruled. The British Columbia Court of Appeal ruled on a similar matter last year with regard to a decision in August 2008 on the case of R. v. Orr. I quote from paragraph 20 of the decision.

A lesser credit, generally in the ratio amount of one and a half-to-one seems more appropriate where the offender has been held for the pre-sentence period in an institution where post-sentence type programs are available. A refusal by a sentencing judge to allow any credits seems to me an erroneous approach having regard to the majority of existing authorities in Canadian appellate courts and the Supreme Court of Canada.

That is the most recent decision.

In other words, it has been established quite clearly that you have to maintain a balance between the time served in pre-sentence custody and the time served in prison. This bill equates the one-to-one challenges that form the fundamental principle of Canadian courts — the Supreme Court of Canada and all the provincial appellate courts — to rulings to maintain a relationship to the one-for-one principle.

It is easy for public opinion to support the one-for-one principle, but it violates one essential principle: Those in pre-sentence custody do not have the benefit of programs available for rehabilitation to reintroduce them into society. We want released prisoners on the streets to behave like good Canadian citizens.

Honourable senators, that is my first point. There are two other sections of the bill for which the constitutionality has been raised. One was raised by Senator Baker yesterday, the proposed section of the bill that allows the judge, in imposing that kind of sentence, to withhold the reasons. We all know that a sentence is appealable. It is a fundamental principle just as you can appeal the principle that you are found guilty. Those are the fundamental principles of our common-law criminal system. This bill takes away the obligation of judges to justify and explain the reasons for the sentence. That would go against that fundamental principle of our system, and there is no doubt that could be challenged in the court. I will not elaborate by quoting cases in the Supreme Court of Canada because the jurisprudence is clear.

There is another aspect of the bill that could be open to a court challenge, and that is a point Senator Nolin raised with one of the expert witnesses, namely, the arguments as to why a person should be detained in pre-sentence custody. The testimony we received from Mr. Munson on this is clear. If it was interpreted differently than what we were told it could be interpreted as, that could be open to challenge.

There are at least three aspects of this bill that raise important fundamental constitutional issues. That is my first point.

My second point, honourable senators, is that this bill will create more dangerous conditions in Canadian prisons, endangering the health and life of the inmate population as much as the personnel charged with the responsibility of operating the prisons. I am not inventing this situation. We had the benefit of hearing from the Canadian prison ombudsman, a person who is neutral and is there to look into the prison system, receive complaints, evaluate the context into which the prisons operate and make recommendations.

We heard from Mr. Howard Sapers, the Correctional Investigator of Canada, on September 30. Here is what Mr. Sapers testified during the study of this bill. He said:

. . . Bill C-25 will likely lead to a significant increase in the offender population managed by the Correctional Service of Canada.

I underline "a significant increase in the offender." He continues:

A significant increase in the federal inmate population will affect the safety and security of that population, as well as individual inmates' ability to receive programs and services that will assist their timely and safe reintegration into their home communities.

Listen to this aspect of his testimony.

. . . the current level of tension and violence within Canada's penitentiaries is already excessive. For example, for the first quarter of this fiscal year, the most recent data available, the correctional service reported a staggering total of 2231 security incidents and 577 reported physical injuries to inmates. During this three-month period, the security incidents included assaults on inmates, disciplinary issues, inmate fights, medical emergencies, self-inflicted injuries and three deaths.

That was in three months. Multiply that by four and you will have at least 12 deaths, at least 10,000 security incidents and at least 2,000 reported physical injuries to inmates. Why? Because this bill, when it is implemented, will bring, according to the statistics we received from Statistics Canada justice division, 10 to 12 per cent more inmates into the prison population.

Again, I refer you to the testimony of the ombudsman. "A significant increase in the federal inmate population will affect the safety and security of that population, as well as individual inmates' ability. . . ."

I questioned Mr. Don Head, the Commissioner of the Correctional Service. I have his testimony here. I tried to get from him the percentage of the so-called increase in the Correctional Service of Canada budget that will be devoted to dealing with that influx of 10 per cent more inmates and the consequences that it will have on the safety and the health of inmates and personnel. Here is what I got. Mr. Head answered:

In terms of disclosing the numbers, at this point I cannot disclose them because they are considered to be cabinet confidence.

In other words, honourable senators, we were told that this information was out of our reach in order to determine if this bill would have a severe impact on the health and life of the inmate population, with the proper balance of budgetary investment to maintain the current level of safety, which is critical according to the ombudsman who reported to us.

This is important because it deals with the kind of approach we should have regarding the inmate population. It would be easy, honourable senators, to mount public opinion against the inmate population. "Let us keep them in prison. Let us lock them somewhere and we do not want to hear about it." However, we need to try to understand who those people are. Are they all the Clifford Olsons of this world? Are they all criminals who are beyond the reach of rehabilitation or are there different kinds of citizens among them who are victims themselves, in a way, as a result of the circumstances of family, education, birth and so on?

I want to draw to honourable senators' attention that this bill will have a disproportionately severe effect on the vulnerable populations in the prisons. Who are they? It will be surprising for you, honourable senators, to understand that it will be the offenders suffering from mental disorders.

The population of our prisons is composed mainly of Aboriginal people. About 20 per cent of Canadian inmates are of Aboriginal origin. They form 3 per cent of the Canadian population and yet they form 20 per cent of the inmate population. In Saskatchewan, it is as high as 80 per cent and above 50 per in Manitoba.

In other words, we are dealing with offenders with significant social backgrounds. One cannot just say, "We will lock them up and forget the key and, when they get out, everything will be fine."

Again, I quote from Mr. Sapers, the ombudsman, who reported that:

This is of importance to the study of Bill C-25 because offenders with mental illnesses and cognitive difficulties are often held in pre-trial custody. We know that the prevalence of offenders with significant mental health issues upon admission has doubled in the past five years.

In fact, another witness stated that the ". . . Aboriginal adults admitted to remand custody increased by 23 per cent compared to a 14 per cent increase in the total remand admission rate over that same period."

In other words, we are putting more Aboriginal population in prison and remand. This is a serious problem, honourable senators, if we add that to the people suffering with mental disorders. The problem with people who are affected by mental disorders is that, as Mr. Sapers stated, "Federal prisons are now housing the largest psychiatric population in the country. . . ." It has doubled in the past five years. If one was to ask where are the majority of the Canadians who suffer from psychiatric problems, the answer would be that they are in prisons. They are not in psychiatric institutions or under the kind of care that one would like to have if someone in their family suffered from a psychiatric disorder.

Mr. Sapers also stated:

. . . despite the need, the capacity of the federal correctional system to respond to and treat mental illness is largely reserved for the most acute or seriously chronic cases — those receiving psychiatric treatment in one of the five regional treatment centres. Most other mental health problems receive limited clinical attention, at best.

This means that, when those people have served their time, they are released onto the street with no real capacity to reintegrate into a normal course of life. It is so much so that the accessibility to rehabilitation has been severely cut by the lack of funds.

Let me quote from Mr. Zinger, the Executive Director and General Counsel of the Office of the Correctional Investigator. He testified at the committee:

The Correctional Service allocates only two per cent, under $41 million of a $2.1 billion total annual budget, to offender programming.

For now, offenders have to contend with long waiting lists for programs and with cancelled programs because of insufficient funding or lack of trained facilitators.

They also have to deal with delayed conditional release because of the service's inability to provide the timely programs they require.

They must therefore serve longer time before parole consideration.

In other words, there is not enough capacity to offer the programs that would help those inmates to reintegrate into normal life.

Honourable senators, you will understand those aspects of Bill C-25, outside the hoopla of the political game of name-calling and trying to address emotion rather than the substance of this bill, is very serious.

I will conclude by referring to another witness whom we hear from very rarely at the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. I have been serving on that committee for 12 years now and we have never heard a representative of the Crown counsel. Why? Of course, the Crown counsel is the Department of Justice, either provincial or federal. It is the government. This time, we heard from the President of the Canadian Association of Crown Counsel, Mr. Jamie Chaffe. It was extraordinary to have him testify. He said that, from his association's perspective, it was certain that there would be an increase in the workload in the bail system. That could only be reasonably expected since part of the sentencing process would be imported into the bail hearing itself, which would likely be fully litigated by defence counsel and the Crown. In other words, by trying to alleviate the condition in the remand centre, we will be clogging the bail court.

Mr. Chaffe was questioned by all of us around the table because it was such an important element to consider before supporting this bill. We thought this information had to be shared with all senators in this chamber before voting on this bill.

I do not doubt that the intention of the government to try to frame the discretion of the judges is a legitimate objective.

However, when it is framed in a way that there are unintended consequences in the system, either in the courts by clogging the bail courts or in the prisons by creating more dangerous conditions, and by putting the weight on those who are the most vulnerable, the result might not be the one contemplated at the beginning. There has to be the proper commitment of budget and human resources, and the proper capacity of monitoring such that this initiative will be sound, humane and will serve the objective, which, as Senator Wallace has said, is to increase safety and security in Canada.

Honourable senators, that might be a different tone than what you have heard in the hoopla surrounding the debate on this bill. However, those are the serious considerations that I thought were useful to bring to your consideration before you vote on this bill later today or this week.

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, if Senator Watt is to enter the debate, I want to ask some questions.

Thank you, Senator Joyal for that presentation. This topic is not new to this chamber or the committee.

In 1994, the Minister of Justice Allan Rock — I see a senator on the other side nodding in agreement — who came from Toronto, raised the issue for the first time because of the overcrowding of the court system in terms of bail, remands and prisons. The rationale for that decision taken by the Minister of Justice was that the court system and jails in Toronto were overcrowded. It was going from bad to worse. There was agreement on both sides at the time that this bill needed remediation.

Having said that, it is my understanding that the court system in Ontario — the province I represent — is worse today than it was then. I look at other members from Ontario. They should take a look at this question before they opine on this bill. I think they will come to the same conclusion. The court system in Ontario is worse today in terms of clogging the courts, reasonable remands and bail. Prisons are also more crowded today than they were 14 years ago.

Did this evidence come forward to the committee as to whether there were budgets available at the provincial, municipal and federal levels to expand space availability in prisons that will be required if this bill goes into effect?

Senator Joyal: Honourable senators, I will quote Ken Crawford, corrections staff representative from the Winnipeg Free Press on the sixth of this month:

All provincial jails within this province are presently overcrowded. . . . Our institutions are at the breaking point.

The honourable senator was talking of Ontario; this article is from Manitoba. The newspaper was reporting about a mutiny in the correctional centre in Brandon. The article continued:

They'd like to see trailers to house at least 200 people in order to ease overcrowding. The trailers can house 20 to 60 people, said the union

The article goes on to quote Peter Olfert, Manitoba Government and General Employees Union president:

(The province) are looking as moving as quickly as they can to provide portable units.

In other words, this problem is not peculiar to Ontario. It is the same in Manitoba, according to what I read. I would say it is the same in Quebec.

If I remember correctly, in June, a front page article in La Presse described conditions in the provincial prisons. Although some provinces might have announced budgetary initiatives, construction will not keep up with the increase of population we will experience by adopting minimum sentences, or by the fact that remand population will increase. This increase is not because people want to stay in prisons, but because cases are more complex. That is the witness testimony we heard. Cases are more complex, hearings are longer and personnel in the courts are not always available. A clogging of the court system exists generally, and it needs a massive injection of funds.

We have to take into account that element of reality with all the bills we are requested to vote on. We continue to add to a system that is already cracking all over the place. At a point in time, we must understand that what we do may have an unintended adverse effect because we are creating additional pressure in the whole system.

Senator Grafstein: Honourable senators, I have another question relating to Toronto and my province of Ontario. It is my understanding that the urban Aboriginal population in Toronto is the largest in Canada in absolute numbers. While there is a problem in Regina, Winnipeg and other places in the West, the largest problem in quantitative terms is in Toronto.

Senators from Toronto will know the statistics well when we talk about the homeless. At least two thirds of the homeless on the streets in Toronto are Aboriginal. Of the Aboriginal community on the streets, about two thirds of them — maybe more — are on the streets because of psychiatric or emotional problems. This information is confirmed in a report.

Again, we have a more intense problem in Toronto. I assume the committee sorted this problem out as well. When we come to the question of bail, remand or incarceration, Toronto now has probably the largest proportion of Aboriginals convicted in Canada without any remediation.

Did this issue arise in the committee study? Have you any comments about that issue?

Senator Joyal: We did not hear any witnesses from the Aboriginal community. I want to put that information on the record. We did not hear representatives of the Assembly of First Nations, other national groups that represent Aboriginal people or provincial groups like the Cree or Innu of Quebec.

The issue came to us as a side issue. As I mentioned earlier, we will create additional pressure on the system. Our colleague, Senator Watt, who intends to speak this afternoon on this issue, is a member of the committee. He has raised this issue regularly with the witnesses. At a point in time, that problem must be addressed. It cannot be ignored. It is the major problem of the Canadian inmate population.

At this stage, we could not study more than the purpose of this bill and the reference we received from the Senate, which was to study the scope of the legislation.

Senator Grafstein: Finally, we have been confronted in the past — I look at new senators in regard to this problem — with a situation in the criminal justice system and other places where a bill is not in sync with the economic reality. I suspect and assume this bill is not.

Did the committee — all members of the committee — give any consideration to suggesting an amendment that will allow the bill not to come into effect if it is passed until such time as Her Majesty the Queen and cabinet can be satisfied that there are adequate facilities both at the court level and in the prison system to accommodate the increase in prisoners incarcerated?

Senator Joyal: The answer is no, honourable senators.

I mentioned earlier, Don Head, Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada appeared as a witness. He is the "big boss" of the prison system in Canada. We tried to obtain the figures and statistics on how much of the budget will go for bricks and mortar and how much will go to rehabilitation programs, training, personnel, et cetera. We could not obtain proper detail on those figures. Mr. Head told us those figures were deemed confidential documents. To answer your question, yes, the figures exist somewhere, but they were not made available to us.

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