It’s round two for the federal Conservatives’ goal of getting tough on pot growers.
After having the Senate gut an earlier attempt at setting minimum sentences for growing marijuana, the Harper government will now try to push through Bill S-10, which features a mandatory six-month jail term for growing six pot plants.
The Liberals, meanwhile, vow to block the bill, which critics say is heading in the opposite direction Canada has taken on the issue of marijuana over the past several years.
There’s truth in that, particularly when viewed from the perspective of the Crown and courts, which have respectively been reluctant to aggressively pursue charges against growers, or upon conviction, hand down stiff sentences.
There is also an element of public opposition to bringing down a larger hammer on marijuana cultivation, particularly on small amounts.
Critics point across the border, where tougher marijuana sentences have filled jails, but done little to stem the green wave, or the demand for the product.
Considerable doubt surrounds the premise that a minimum sentence for growing pot will dissuade the gangs which make billions from the industry in Canada.
When there is that much profit to be gained – and tougher laws may actually increase the value of the drug – there will be a willingness to take the risks to reap the massive rewards.
Far more effective in reducing the number of grow-ops in this and other cities is the initiative based on safety inspections of suspected homes.
Using that tactic, along with law enforcement efforts, Abbotsford has seen a dramatic drop in the number of grows over the past several years.
Purely from a public cost perspective, it’s a far cheaper remedy than building and filling more prisons.