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Social Suppliers & Real Dealers: Incorporating Social Supply in Drug Law in Canada- SARAH FERENCZ

Social drug supply is non-commercial drug supplying, or sharing, among friends and acquaintances for little to no profit. Given the increasing research and international recognition of the social supply of drugs, this paper critically assesses how Canadian law has incorporated social supply in drug trafficking. While the Cannabis Act includes a limited exception for social supply, the overall approach to drug trafficking law in Canada is overly broad and over emphasizes drug trafficking as inherently predatory. This approach does not adequately account for the social nature of drug supplying. Considering the recognition that social supplying is less morally blameworthy than commercial dealing, the fact that many people who use drugs do not regard social sharing as trafficking, and the harm reduction benefits associated with social supply as an alternative to other forms of dealing, law reform is needed in Canada. Three avenues for law reform are proposed: (1) educate judges and lawyers about the lived experiences of people who use drugs and the phenomenon of social supply; (2) use the language of social supply and minimally commercial supply in sentencing submissions to gradually challenge ideas about drug use and supply; and (3) pursue strategic Charter arguments under section 7 against the overly broad definition of drug trafficking.


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