On February 18, 2021, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, introduced proposed amendments to the Criminal Code and to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The purpose of the Bill is to decrease the representation of Indigenous peoples, as well as Black Canadians in the criminal justice system. One of the principle means of doing that is to remove all six of the mandatory minimums in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. In particular, mandatory minimum sentences would be repealed for the following drug offences:
- Trafficking or possession for purpose of trafficking (two separate offences)
- Subparagraph 5(3)(a)(i): MMP of 1 year; Subparagraph 5(3)(a)(ii) – MMP of 2 years
- Importing and exporting or possession for the purpose of exporting (two separate offences)
- Paragraph 6(3)(a): MMP of 1 year; Paragraph 6(3)(a.1) – MMP of 2 years
- Production of substance Schedule I or II (two offences)
- Paragraph 7(2)(a): MMP of 3 years and 2 years; Subparagraph 7(2)(a.1)(i) and (ii) – MMPs of 1 year and 18 months
The Bill will also have the effect of making conditional sentences available for a number of drug offences for which a conditional sentence was previously not available. A conditional sentence is a sentence in which the offender serves a “jail” term at home under house arrest with stringent conditions rather than at an institution. As a result, some offender convicted of drug offences will now be able to avoid going to prison.