Longer jail time for drug crimes proposed

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson reintroduced legislation Friday to impose mandatory minimum jail time for serious drug crimes.

The legislation, originally tabled in November 2007, calls for a minimum mandatory one-year prison sentence for dealing drugs such marijuana when carried out for organized-crime purposes or when weapons and violence are involved, Nicholson said at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police British Columbia headquarters.


It would also require a minimum two-year prison sentence for dealing drugs such as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines to teenagers or dealing those drugs near a school or in an area frequented by teens, he said.

"For those individuals who are serious drug dealers, we're sending out a very clear message to you. If you think this is a great idea to get into this business, if you continue in this business, you'll be looking at jail terms," said Nicholson, who is also Canada's attorney general.

The legislation "is exactly what we believe this country needs," he said.

Nicholson acknowledged mandatory jail time might not deter hardened gang members inclined to violence, but said, "We have to start somewhere."

He said he hoped judges would add jail time during sentencing, The Globe and Mail reported.


Friday's proposal came a day after Nicholson unveiled legislation to ensure homicides tied to organized crime carry a first-degree murder charge. His Thursday proposal also stiffened penalties for drive-by shootings.

He promised Friday additional anti-crime measures would follow.

"Believe me, we're not done yet," he said.

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