Bill on mandatory minimum penalties, sunset clause for drug convictions becomes law

OTTAWA — A Liberal bill that removes a significant number of mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug and firearms offences has become law.

Minimum penalties have been repealed for all convictions under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and 14 firearms- and tobacco-related offences in the Criminal Code.

Thanks to an NDP amendment, the bill also creates a sunset provision that means people who are convicted of drug offences will see their record cleared either two years after a conviction or two years after their sentence is served, whichever is later.

The new law requires prosecutors to consider referring defendants to treatment programs or other support services instead of charging them for simple drug possession.

The Senate passed the bill, which removes penalties established under Stephen Harper's Conservative government, without amendment Thursday after the House of Commons approved it in June.

Justice Minister David Lametti says the bill targets offences that have most contributed to the overrepresentation of Indigenous and Black Canadians in prisons.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2022.

The Canadian Press