RE: Punish the big fish, not the occasional user

Dear Editor:
I’d like to take this opportunity to respond to John Cleaver’s recent column regarding Bill C-15, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.
This legislation is specifically targeted to address the most serious drug offences. It’s not about applying mandatory minimum penalties for all drug crimes. The mandatory minimum penalties are primarily targeted towards the worst drugs (such as heroin, cocaine and crystal meth) and towards those offenders who are violent and/or associated with organized crime and gangs.
I want to emphasize that simple possession offences will not be subject to any mandatory penalties.
With regards to the marijuana provisions of Bill C-15, the legislation is targeted towards criminal organizations and gangs who endanger the public safety of residential communities by operating large, and often hazardous, grow operations. The mandatory minimum penalties in Bill C-15 apply to the production of drugs for the purpose of trafficking, not simple possession.
If serious, and often violent, drug criminals are not sufficiently deterred from committing these offences, we believe that such individuals should be separated from society so as to protect ordinary Canadians from harmful behaviour. We’re focused on the most serious drugs and the most serious offences.
We also recognize that treatment and prevention are essential aspects of any comprehensive anti-drug strategy. Bill C-15 contains an exception that allows courts not to impose the mandatory sentence if an offender successfully completes a Drug Treatment Court program.
I hope this clarifies some of the confusion around this bill; it is intended to target the “big fish” and not the occasional user.
Cathy McLeod, M.P.

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