The Maple Leaflet Vol. 1 # 3 (July 1996)

The Monthly Newsletter from the National Organization for the Repeal of the Marijuana Laws in Canada

Umberto Iorfida - Editor (posted to web by W. Carroll)

    Special Feature

  1. ** Bill C-8 is a step forward or backward ? (by NORML Canada pres. Umberto Iorfida)

    Regular features
  2. ** Contact NORML Canada.
  3. ** Starting a Chapter
  4. ** Petitions send a message.
  5. ** BACK to MAIN MENU (at Newsletter selections).

Contact NORML Canada

N.O.R.M.L. CANADA wants to hear from you. All letters, rally announcements, news articles, bust reports, from across the country are welcome. We will compile the data and prepare presentations to the SENATE OF CANADA.

We welcome all submissions such as announcements of the opening of hemp shops, book releases, and your tips for citizen action. Always include an LSAE.

NORML Canada
Umberto Iorfida, President
tel. 905 833-3167 :: fax 905 833-3682 :: EMAIL NORML Canada now (iorfida@interlog.com)

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starting a chapter

Starting a Chapter

Inquiries for chapters have been coming in from many parts of Canada. To form a chapter in your area, ten (10) paid members are required. Any person wishing to do so, may be the spokesperson for that chapter and send for our Chapter Start-up Kit . Each Kit request must be accompanied by a $15.00 M.O. or by certified cheque. This fee is refundable on certification of the chapter. For more information, write to N.O.R.M.L. Canada.


Persons involved with the formation of a chapter of N.O.R.M.L. Canada, may find the following useful. We will try to include a few helpful facts in this column each issue.

The location and premises of the chapter should openly display three things : 1) a Canadian Flag, 2) A copy of the Canadian Charter of Rights, and 3) a copy of the Constitution of Canada. Optional is a fourth item : 4) a copy of the Declaration on the Decade of Disabled Persons. All of these are available from your M.P. or directly from Supplies and Services Canada in Ottawa.

The Charter of Rights guarantees your right of assembly. To display the Charter is patriotic.

The Declaration of the Disabled Persons, is a commitment to disabled people, providing for access to medical remedy, and to seek same wherever it is available.

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Petitions Are People Power

In order to communicate our specific goals to government, and to show our real strength, over the years, N.O.R.M.L. Canada has utilized member and non-member participation by way of petitions. Petitions are the shortest route to citizens action. The general feeling that one person can not make a difference could not be further from the truth. It has been the power of the individual joined with many other individuals on petitions that has helped this country build its future.

Statistics Canada indicates that as of 1992, 2.9 million people in Canada possess a criminal record for drug charges. Dr. Patricia Erickson, (Head Scientist, Addiction Research Foundation) decried at a Western University, London Ontario, Canadian Cannabis Policy Conference, that 85% to 90% of those charges were cannabis related. Further, 85% to 90% of those charges were for simple possession of marijuana. This population of approximately 2.3 million people may account for only half of the Canadian population affected by the cannabis issue. For too long this group of otherwise law abiding citizens has been systematically abused. Police raids, newspaper smear campaigns, and other harassment, perpetrated by the very government which operates under the name "democracy", has effectively denied marijuana users any participation in the processes of government.

One of N.O.R.M.L. Canada's missions is to create a gigantic nationwide petition drive to clearly and strongly send a message to Parliament.

For copies of this petition, please write N.O.R.M.L. CANADA. Be sure to include an LSASE PER REQUEST. M.P's. wishing to represent constituents in their riding that require representation in this issue are asked to contact N.O.R.M.L. CANADA. Please include your position on the issue of Cannabis in Canada.

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An Analysis of Bill C- 8

and Its Impact on the Users, Cultivators, And Traffickers of Marijuana


By Umberto Iorfida, NORML Canada President

As you know, NORML Canada has been encouraging an alternative to Canada's drug laws since 1972. Through Bill S-19, Bill C-85, Bill C-7, and Bill C-8, we have lobbied for changes that reflect the findings of The Le Dain Commission report(1974), new medical and scientific research, and the provisions made in Bill C-420 as sponsored by MP Jim Fulton of Skeena, B.C., in 1994 for N.O.R.M.L. CANADA.

Although Bill C-8 was passed to the House of Commons for Royal Assent with amendments on June 13, 1996, the following recommendations were made by the Senate and filed by the Chair, Mme. Sharon Carstairs :

(Punctuation and emphasis by NORML Canada)

Joint Review of Canada's Drug Policies

Whereas the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health has undertaken to review Canada's drug laws and policies this fall ; and

whereas this review is in response to calls for an independent, open, objective, non-partisan reassessment of Canada's drug laws and policies ; and,

whereas, the Senate may consider conducting a parallel , independent review of Canada's drug laws and policies ;

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs strongly urges that a Joint Senate and House of Commons Committee be struck to review all of Canada's existing drug laws, and policies and programs.

Without restricting its mandate, this Joint Committee should be authorized to :

  • Reassess Government's approach to dealing with illicit drug use in Canada, its effectiveness in curtailing drug use, and its fairness of application ;
  • Develop a national harm-reduction policy to minimize the negative consequences associated with illicit drug use in Canada ; and recommend how such a harm-reduction policy would be implemented, including viewing drug use and abuse primarily as a health and social policy issue ;
  • Study harm-reduction models adopted by other countries (treatment and alternative programs for illicit drug use); consider whether such programs should be implemented in whole or in part in Canada ;
  • Examine Canada's role and international obligations under the United Nations' drug conventions to determine whether alternative measures to prosecution and punishment are possible under the conventions ;
  • And if not, consider whether Canada should seek an amendment to the United Nations drug conventions which would allow alternative harm-reduction measures to permit signatory parties to comply ;
  • Revisit the Le Dain commissions's findings and recommendations and determine what further action is needed ;
  • Explore the health effects of cannabis use ; consider whether decriminalization of cannabis would lead to increased use and abuse, both in the short- and long-term ;
  • Explore using the Government's regulatory power under the Contraventions Act as an additional tool to implement a harm reduction policy.
  • In addition, the Joint Committee should undertake intensive public consultations to determine the needs of different jurisdictions across Canada, including lage urban centres where the societal problems associated with the illicit drug trade are more visible. The goal should be to devise a made-in-Canada drug strategy where all levels of government work effectively together to reduce the harm associated with the use of illicit and legal drugs.


The Committee makes the following suggestions with regard to enactment of regulations :

  • that the regulations be respectful of aboriginal peoples' spiritual and medicinal practices ; regulations must not frustrate traditional healers, herbalists and medicine people in the exercise of their inherent aboriginal and treaty rights.
  • that the regulations clearly provide that the "needle exchange programs" are not caught by the definitions of "controlled substance" as found in clause 2(2) of the Bill. Under clause 2(2), any object used, designed, or intended to produce or introduce a controlled substance into a body can be treated in the same way as the illicit substance. Without a clear exemption in the regulations, users and operators of "needle exchange programs" risk being charged with "dealing in a `controlled substance."
  • that the Canadian Medical Association be formally consulted regarding the drafting of all regulations pertaining to the medical application of controlled substances.

Respectfully submitted, Sharon Carstairs, CHAIR.

Interpretations of Bill C-8

On June 19, 1996 Bill C-8 was returned to the Senate for final passage. It would now await the final Proclamation by the Privy Council of Canada per the Governor General, Mr. Jackman. Should the proclamation be made, it will become law effective at that moment.

The interpretations of this law have already begun to cause some disputes in understanding it full ramifications. The following passages are exerpts from Bill C-8 (where applicable with amendments or corrections).

In discussions with the Clerk of the Senate of Canada, Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Subcommittee for Bill C-8, we were informed that in almost all cases a Bill which has reached the point of Royal Assent would undoubtedly also receive Proclamation. Further the discussions led to the understanding that interpretations of the new Act and fine tune adjustments could continue yet for years. This new act would repeal and replace the present Narcotics Control Act by which the justice system now operates. The new act would be titled "the Controlled Substances Act". The manner of law enforcement would now be somewhat altered.

Since this bill is a tool of the Ministry of Health, The Ministry of Health would now be obligated to set the parameters of the methods of control, reflecting the initial objective of health and welfare. The jurisdiction of health and welfare is to now implement reliable methods of public drug control, true to the harm reduction, treatment oriented, method.

In the opening summary, on page 1a, Canada's new Controlled Substances Act states the following :


This enactment consolidates Canada's drug policy to fulfill Canada's international obligations under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the relevant portions of the United Nations Convention against Illicit traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. This enactment repeals the Narcotic Control Act and Parts III and IV of the Food and Drugs Act.

The major elements of the enactment are as follows :

  • 1. The provisions of a framework for the control of import, production, export, distribution and use of substances that can alter mental processes and that may produce harm to health and to society when distributed or used without supervision. Apart from controlling scheduled substances, the enactment provides for the control of non-scheduled substances if they fall within the parameters of the enactment.
  • 2. The provision of mechanisms to ensure that the export, import, production, distribution and use of internationally regulated substances are confined to medical, scientific and industrial purposes.
  • 3. The provision of enforcement measures available to police and to the courts for the interdiction and suppression of unlawful import, export, production or distribution of controlled substances and for forfeiture of any property used or intended to be used in the commissions of such offenses.

MORE on Bill C-8 in the next issue, such as :

  • New classification of non-commercial, small scale cultivation of marijuana, as a "non serious", non-felony, crime.
  • New higher threshold for "serious crime" classification for traffickers.
  • No increase in penalties for simple possession of marijuana, with possibility of "summary traffic ticket" type prosecution options.


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