Backgrounder: Penalties for organized drug crime act

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

The Government today introduced in the Senate the Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act. The legislation provides mandatory jail time for serious drug offences, and will allow special penalties to be imposed when offences are carried out for organized crime purposes, or if they involve targeting youth.  This legislation supports the National Anti-Drug Strategy’s efforts to combat illicit drug production and distribution. The proposed reforms would help disrupt criminal enterprises by targeting drug suppliers.

For the purpose of this initiative, serious drug offences would include:

  • production;
  • trafficking;
  • possession for the purpose of trafficking;
  • importing and exporting; and,
  • possession for the purpose of exporting.

The Bill would amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to include mandatory prison terms for drugs listed in Schedule I, such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, and in Schedule II, such as marijuana. Generally, the minimum sentence would apply where there is an aggravating factor, including where the production of the drug constituted a potential security, health or safety hazard. Also, the maximum penalty for production of Schedule II drugs, e.g., marijuana, would be increased from 7 to 14 years.

The aggravating factors involve offences committed:

  • for the benefit of organized crime;
  • involving use or threat of violence;
  • involving use or threat of use of weapons;
  • by someone who has been previously convicted (in the past 10 years) of a serious drug offence;
  • in a prison;
  • by abusing a position of authority or access to restricted areas;
  • in or near a school, in or near an area normally frequented by youth or in the presence of youth;
  • through involving a youth in the commission of the offence; and,
  • in relation to a youth (e.g. selling to a youth).

The security, health and safety factors are:

  • the accused used real property that belongs to a third party to commit the offence;
  • the production constituted a potential security, health or safety hazard to children who were in the location where the offence was committed or in the immediate area;
  • the production constituted a potential public safety hazard in a residential area; and
  • the accused placed or set a trap.

Also, GHB and flunitrazepam, most commonly known as date-rape drugs, and amphetamine drugs would be moved from Schedule III to Schedule I, which would provide access to higher maximum penalties for illegal activities involving these drugs.

Exemptions for Drug Treatment Programs

The proposed legislation would allow a court to suspend a sentence while the addicted offender takes a treatment program approved by the province under the supervision of the court as outlined in section 720(2) of the Criminal Code or a Drug Treatment Court approved program. These programs encourage the offender to deal with the addiction that motivates their criminal behaviour. If the person successfully completes the treatment program, the court normally imposes a suspended or reduced sentence.

Review of the Bill

The proposed legislation states that a Parliamentary Committee would undertake a comprehensive review of the provisions and operations of the Bill two years after it comes into force.

- 30 -

Department of Justice Canada
May 2010

ANNEX A

Proposed New Mandatory Sentences for Serious Drug Offences Schedule 1 drugs (cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, etc.)
OFFENCE MANDATORY PENALTY NOTES
  w/
Aggravating Factor
List  A1
w/ Aggravating Factor
List B2
w/ Health and Safety Factors3
Production 2 YEARS n/a n/a 3 YEARS  
Trafficking   1 YEAR 2 YEARS n/a  
Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking   1 YEAR 2 YEARS n/a  
Importing
Exporting
1 YEAR n/a n/a n/a Offence is committed for the purpose of trafficking
2 YEARS
(if more than 1 kg of Schedule 1 substances)
Possession For the Purpose of Exporting 1 YEAR n/a n/a n/a Offence is committed for the purpose of trafficking
2 YEARS
(if more than 1 kg of Schedule 1 substances)

ANNEX B

Proposed New Mandatory Sentences for Serious Drug Offences
Schedule II drugs (cannabis and marijuana)
OFFENCE MANDATORY PENALTY   NOTES
  w/
AggravatingFactors- List A1
w/
Aggravating Factor - List B2
w/
Health and Safety Factors3
Trafficking   1 YEAR 2 YEARS n/a Offence would have to involve more than 3 kg of cannabis marijuana or cannabis resin
Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking   1 YEAR 2 YEARS n/a Offence would have to involve more than 3 kg of cannabis marijuana or cannabis resin
Importing
Exporting
1 YEAR n/a n/a n/a Offence is committed for the purpose of trafficking
Possession for the Purpose of Exporting 1 YEAR n/a n/a n/a Offence is committed for the purpose of trafficking
Production -
6 - 200 plants
 
6 MOS n/a n/a 9 MOS Offence is committed for the purpose of trafficking.
Maximum penalty will be increased to 14 years imprisonment
Production -
201 – 500 plants
1 YEAR n/a n/a 18 MOS Maximum penalty will be increased to 14 years imprisonment
Production - more than 500 plants 2 YEARS n/a n/a 3 YEARS Maximum penalty will be increased to 14 years imprisonment
Production -
oil or resin
1 YEAR n/a n/a 18 MOS Offence is committed for the purpose of trafficking

¹ Aggravating Factors List A

The aggravating factors include offences committed:

  • for the benefit of organized crime;
  • involving use or threat of violence;
  • involved use or threat of use of weapons;
  • by someone who was previously convicted of a designated drug offence or had served a term of imprisonment for a designated substance offence in the previous 10 years; and,
  • through the abuse of authority or position or by abusing access to restricted area to commit the offence of importation/exportation and possession to export. 

² Aggravating Factors List B

The aggravating factors include offences committed:

  • in a prison;
  • in or near a school, in or near an area normally frequented by youth or in the presence of youth;
  • in concert with a youth
  • in relation to a youth (e.g.  selling to a youth)

³Health and Safety Factors

  • the accused used real property that belongs to a third party to commit the offence;
  • the production constituted a potential security, health or safety hazard to children who were in the location where the offence was committed or in the immediate area;
  • the production constituted a potential public safety hazard in a residential area;
  • the accused placed or set a trap.