cover image: Urgent and Long Overdue: Legal Reform and Drug Decriminalization in Canada - January 2024


Urgent and Long Overdue: Legal Reform and Drug Decriminalization in Canada - January 2024

8 Dec 2023

The Legal Context of Criminal Law 1.1 A Brief History of Canada’s Drug Laws In this section, we offer a brief history of Canada’s drug laws from the initial introduction of the Opium Act39 at the beginning of the 20th century through to the current Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA)40 and the various initiatives that resulted in law reform in this field. [...] As well, the Principle suggests that, even after the initial decision has been made to invoke the criminal law, the nature or extent of the response of the criminal justice system should be governed by considerations of economy, necessity and restraint, consonant of course with the need to maintain social order and protect the public.71 The Criminal Law in Canadian Society cautioned that restraint. [...] 4.1 Section 7 of the Charter: The Right to Life, Liberty, and Security of the Person Section 7 of the Charter guarantees everyone “the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”152 The courts apply a two-step test analysis to determine whether section 7 has been violated. [...] 7.”174 In Malmo-Levine, the Court found that prohibiting the possession of cannabis under section 4(1) of the CDSA did not offend the principles of fundamental justice because, in the majority’s view, “criminalization of possession is a statement of society’s collective disapproval of the use of a psychoactive drug … and … the continuing view that its use should be deterred … The prohibition is no. [...] In Malmo-Levine, the Court also rejected the claimants’ argument that the prohibition on possession of cannabis violated the principles of fundamental justice because its adverse effects were “grossly disproportionate” to its purposes.179 In the majority’s view, the impact of section 4(1) of the CDSA on accused persons, including the possibility of imprisonment and of having a criminal record, did.
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