Legal Developments: Drug Offences
The legislative regime governing drug law in Canada is a target of many of the amendments in Bill C-10, or the “Crime Omnibus Bill”. The Bill was passed on March 12, 2012, and the drug-related amendments came into force on November 6, 2012. The primary focus is on establishing mandatory minimum sentences for many drug offences and making the most important sentencing principles in drug cases deterrence and denunciation. Taking such steps is particularly damaging in the area of drug offences, where different individuals can have vastly different roles and degrees of responsibility.
Canada (Attorney General) v. PHS Community Services Society, 2011 SCC 44:
In PHS, commonly referred to as the “Insite” decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ordered the Federal Minister of Health to exempt a supervised injection site from the application of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The Court held that refusing the exemption violated the Insite patients’ right to life, liberty and security under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it prevented injection drug users from accessing health services (including “safe injections”), thus exposing them to significant harm. The Court also acknowledged that drug addiction is an illness characterized by a loss of control over the need to consume the substance to which the addiction relates.