An Act to amend the Contraventions Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (marihuana)

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

This bill was previously introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session.


Keith Martin  Liberal

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Introduced, as of April 2, 2009
(This bill did not become law.)


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Contraventions Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. It changes the type of proceedings and legal regime governing the offences of possession of, possession for the purpose of trafficking and trafficking in, one gram or less of cannabis resin or thirty grams or less of cannabis (marihuana).

Under this enactment, these offences are deemed to be contraventions within the meaning of the Contraventions Act. A person who has been convicted of a contravention has not been convicted of a criminal offence, and a contravention does not constitute an offence for the purposes of the Criminal Records Act.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Contraventions ActRoutine Proceedings

April 2nd, 2009 / 10:05 a.m.
See context


Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-359, An Act to amend the Contraventions Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (marihuana).

Mr. Speaker, the war on drugs has been a complete failure. It has not reduced the crime rate, it has not reduced drug use, nor has it saved lives or money. The status quo only benefits organized crime gangs and the insurgents in faraway Afghanistan. These are the parasites that benefit from the status quo.

This bill would decriminalize the simple possession of marijuana under 30 grams and the possession of two or fewer plants. It would sever the ties between the casual user and organized crime gangs. It would eliminate demand for their product and significantly undermine the financial underpinnings of organized crime gangs in Canada.

Possession would still be illegal but people would receive fines rather than going through the expensive judicial system. The money saved could be used to apply to the headstart program to prevent children from using drugs and to fund initiatives such as the NAOMI project, the North American opiate medication initiative.

Study after study has shown that decriminalizing marijuana is the right thing to do. Churches, police groups and others have supported it, including many studies from this House. As a physician, I have seen the ravages of drug use. The status quo only increases harm and drug use.

What I hope happens through this bill is that we can move toward a rational and mature debate on substance abuse so that people who have substance abuse problems are treated as a medical problem and organized crime gangs are treated as a judicial problem.

In medicine, we have a saying, “Do no harm”. Let us do no harm and pass this bill forthwith.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)