Liberals introduce new bill to relax penalties for drug offences

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The federal government has introduced a new bill to repeal mandatory minimum penalties for certain drug offences — penalties the Liberals say have disproportionately harmed Indigenous and Black offenders and those struggling with addictions.

Attorney General David Lametti introduced Bill C-22 in the House of Commons this morning and will hold a news conference at 12:30 p.m. ET to provide more details. CBC News will carry it live.

His office says the bill also will require police and prosecutors to consider alternatives to laying charges in simple possession cases, such as diversion to addiction treatment programs. It will give the courts leeway to use conditional sentence orders in cases where an individual isn’t a public safety threat.

“Serious criminals deserve to be seriously punished and kept away from our communities. But too many lower-risk and first-time offenders, including a disproportionate number of Indigenous peoples and Black Canadians, are being sent to prison and locked up for too long because of policies which are proven not to deter crime or help keep our communities safe,” said Lametti’s spokesperson Rachel Rappaport.


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