BC Court of Appeal Affirms Unconstitutionality of Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Marijuana Production


The British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld the British Columbia Supreme Court’s ruling that the mandatory minimum sentences for production of more than 500 marijuana plants are unconstitutional.

Phillip Francis McGee plead guilty to charges for production of 601 marijuana plants in his rental home contrary to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA), which provided for a minimum three-year mandatory sentence. The sentencing judge found the minimum was excessive, could result in a grossly disproportionate sentence and would “effectively extinguish the important goal of rehabilitation.” He determined that the mandatory minimum violated s. 12 of the Charter, which states that everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

A law that violates s. 12 of the Charter may be saved under s. 1, if the law has a pressing and substantial objective and means that are proportional to that objective. The court of appeal agreed that the law violated s. 12 and found that it was not proportionate under s. 1. The relevant sections of the CDSA were declared to be of no force and effect.

This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA or PBSC.