Doctors, scientists want proposed federal drug law scrapped

published on February 9, 2011

More than 500 doctors, scientists and academics are calling on the federal government to abandon a new crime law tabled in Parliament that would impose mandatory minimum prison sentences on people convicted of drug offences.

Bill S-10 would amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to set minimum penalties for drug offences committed by a criminal organization, involving violence or use of a weapon. It also sets out a minimum sentence of six months in prison for cultivating more than five marijuana plants and for drug-related crimes committed by a person with a previous drug offence.

An open letter to the leaders of Canada’s federal political parties seeking an evidence-based approach to drug crime sentencing was spearheaded by the Vancouver-based Urban Health Research Initiative.

“There is no scientific evidence to support this approach in terms of it reducing crime or promoting public safety and there are also real health concerns given that incarceration has been associated with the transmission of infectious diseases such as HIV,” said Thomas Kerr of the Urban Health Research Initiative.

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