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Pot Smokers Fighting Proposed Law At 420 Rally


Nug of the Month: Aug 2008
Pot-smokers will fill Canada's jails if a new a Conservative bill to hand out mandatory sentences for marijuana growers is passed, says a marijuana activist organizing Saturday's pro-pot rally in Niagara Falls.

"If you've got one plant, you're going to be facing the same sentence as somebody with 200 plants," said Marko Ivancicevic, a Toronto advocate for legalizing marijuana.

"There are certainly other aspects of criminal activity that goes on they could be using their resources and minds on, other than people who grow pot."

Marijuana smokers will take aim at the bill at a rally in Niagara Falls Saturday. The Anti-Prohibition Rally has become an annual rite of spring in Niagara Falls. Organizers pick the city because provincial Highway 420 runs through the city.

In pot-smoking culture, 4:20 p. m., is considered the best time of day to toke up.

This is the sixth year for the rally which is held on the weekend closest to April 20 - 4-20.

Bill C-15 is an amendment to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. If it's passed into law, it would require judges to give jail time to people convicted of growing marijuana plants for the purpose of trafficking. Someone caught growing up to 200 plants would get six months in jail. For a crop of 201 to 500 plants, the sentence would be one year.

C-15 is being shepherded through Parliament by Canada's Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, who coincidentally represents Niagara Falls, the site of the marijuana rally.

"I won't be attending," Nicholson said.

Marijuana activists are overreacting to his bill because it's aimed at people running significant growing facilities, raising a big enough crop to traffic in marijuana.

"I don't agree with the people who are growing these three or four plants, but this bill is not targeted at them," Nicholson said. "If it's for your own use, you don't get the mandatory penalty which is six months."

Trafficking is the key to mandatory jail time, Nicholson said.

"It's not targeted at 'recreational users.' It's for people who are into possession for the purposes of trafficking."

C-15 has passed second reading in the House of Commons and has been referred to the justice committee for study. It could be back for a third and final vote by the end of the month and could be the law of the land by the end of the year, Nicholson said.

Cracking down on the trafficking of Canada's marijuana production is important, Nicholson said, because the pot grown in Canada is used as "currency" for the importation of harder drugs like cocaine and heroin from around the world.

Nicholson said law enforcement and provincial government officials are convinced the cultivation of marijuana is tied to organized crime.

"If they want to get into this business there will be some serious consequences," Nicholson said.

Since coming to power in 2006, mandatory sentences have been part of the Conservatives anti-crime strategy. Jail time proposed for growing pot is at the low end of the mandatory sentences Conservatives have brought in. Nicholson's Tackling Violent Crime Act, for example, imposed a mandatory five-year sentence for people convicted of using a gun while committing a crime.

Ivancicevic said marijuana users are concerned about the definition of "trafficking."

"Here's the thing with our law system. I can get charged with trafficking for passing you a joint," he said.

Ivancicevic said he expects 200 to 300 people for Saturday's rally, many of them travelling here by bus from Toronto.

News Hawk- Ganjarden 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Niagara Falls Review
Contact: Niagara Falls Review
Copyright: 2009 Sun Media
Website: Pot Smokers Fighting Proposed Law At 420 Rally
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