Article by Sharon Kirkey, Ottawa Citizen
Under the Trudeau government’s pot bill, anyone who shares a joint with a kid brother could end up sharing a prison cell with a terrorist.
Bill C-45 would make the giving or selling of cannabis to any person under the age of 18 a new criminal offence punishable by up to 14 years in jail, a sentence in line with facilitating a terrorist activity, threatening to commit a nuclear offence, bribing a judge, child luring, recklessly discharging a firearm, aggravated assault, torture and human trafficking.
It’s one of several proposed punishments legal and social policy experts say are ludicrously harsh and disproportionately target youth — the very people Justin Trudeau says his marijuana legislation was designed to protect.
“Everything is going to be good once cannabis is legal? No, it’s not,” the University of Toronto’s Akwasi Owusu-Bempah said at a recent conference at McGill University on the legalization of recreational weed. “The penalties for providing or trafficking cannabis to youth are going to be very strict,” he said, and where do most kids get their pot? Not from “dealers” lurking in school playgrounds or other scary images some Liberals have conjured. “They’re probably buying off their peers.”
Even former Ottawa Police Service chief and Conservative Senator Vernon White implied the punishments around the youthful use of pot are weirdly jarring. White comes from Cape Breton. When he was 17 years old and wanted a six-pack of beer, his 21-year-old brother would buy it for him. The fine if caught was $54.
“But in this legislation, if my 21-year-old brother buys a 17-year-old 10 grams of cannabis, it’s up to 14 years in jail — a dramatic shift in this policy which I don’t think has been thought out,” White told the McGill crowd. “We’re trying to stop trafficking to youth, I understand that. But I think there’s a reality test that has to be put to this, too.”