MINISTER TACKLES TOKIN' SENTENCES
Grow Ops A 'Serious' Crime: Grit
Canada's new pot reform laws will toughen penalties to combat dangerous marijuana grow ops -- but judges also need a lesson about the gravity of the crime, says Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan.
Responding to a Sun story about chronically lenient sentences for large-scale grow operators, the deputy PM said more judicial education is required.
"We need to help judges understand how absolutely serious this is -- the social costs, the economic costs, and quite truthfully, the danger to the lives and safety of first responders when they go into these houses," she told the Sun.
FEW GO TO JAIL
"This is not a crime that should be taken lightly. This is not a victimless crime."
Surprised by statistics from B.C. showing the odds of going to jail for pot offences are less than 1-in-100, McLellan noted the retabled marijuana decriminalization bill doubles the maximum prison term for grow ops.
It also requires judges to issue written reasons for not giving a jail sentence when there are "aggravating" factors, like booby traps, repeat offences or links to organized crime.
Tory justice critic Vic Toews slammed the reform bill as "inadequate"
and "more lip service than action." The so-called crackdown is a typical Liberal ploy to give the false appearance of tackling the problem, he charged.
"They know full well the courts don't even impose the present maximum sentences," he said. "If they're really serious ... they need to impose mandatory minimum prison terms."
Failing to have tough mandatory minimum sentences on the books only encourages a revolving door of criminal grow operators, who set up shop again after just a few months behind bars, Toews said.
"What they've done is bought a licence to grow marijuana."