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The Canadabis Catch

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, May 26, 2003.

  1. By Matt Mernagh
    Source: View Magazine

    Marijuana activists have been using the courts for close to a decade in an effort to have the laws against grass changed.
    Instead of lobbying the Canadian government in the traditional manner, a small group of lawyers and marijuana users have successfully argued the medicinal qualities of marijuana and have challenged the constitutionality of the marijuana laws.

    Recent court victories have forced the federal government to introduce legislation that will be better for the casual pot smoker caught possessing weed. But those growing and trafficking in the herb should be warned that the penalties for doing so are going to be much harsher than the current ones. And more police resources will be used to target large scale operations.

    There's a dramatic difference between legal and decriminalized weed. The police, sensing a revenue generating system, could become overly zealous in fining those caught carrying a small amount (under 15 grams) of marijuana. Decriminalization in Australia has resulted in more pot smokers getting ticketed than arrested under their old law. Failure to pay the fine results in a criminal conviction that could leave potheads with a criminal record.

    Already, activists such as Marc Emery, (publisher of Cannabis Culture, financial backer of the Marijuana Party, and Canada's largest seller of marijuana seeds), are encouraging those ticketed to defend themselves without the aid of a lawyer in court. The goal is to once again tie up the court's and police's time. This strategy, used so effectively in British Columbia, has BC police giving up on arresting people for simple possession. But under the new legislation police might go after simple possessors more frequently because it will be as easy as writing a ticket.

    The only staunch opposition to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's plan to decriminalize marijuana has come from our southern neighbours who have a zero tolerance attitude towards any drugs, with the exception of booze and tobacco. American drug czar John Walters, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, warned that the United States “will have to do more restrictive things at the border,” if Canada decriminalizes marijuana.

    Walters isn't talking about pulling over more people crossing the border on a Friday night to search them for marijuana. His statement is a veiled threat that the Bush administration would slow down the flow of trade goods between our two nations.

    Allan Young, an Osgoode Hall law professor and marijuana activist, explains; “When U.S. government officials talk about increasing border patrols, what they're really saying is, ‘We're going to fuck with your trucking industry if you continue to go in this direction.'”

    Bruce Mirken of the U.S.–based Marijuana Policy Project -- -- concurs with Young's assessment of the situation. “This (U.S.) administration uses veiled threats all the time when dealing with foreign policy contrary to their beliefs.”

    Canada's largest trading partner should be reminded that they've signed the North American Free Trade Agreement that outlines how quickly goods must travel at the border. The treaty also hinders the Bush administration in applying trade sanctions should the Liberals create a law that contravenes U.S. opinion. They would have to hire thousands of additional border guards to inspect every one of the approximately 8,000 trucks that cross the Ontario border daily to keep in accordance with NAFTA. Then there are the undefended regions between Canada and the U.S. Would the Bush administration go so far as to employ the military to keep marijuana out, such as they do at the U.S. / Mexico border?

    Contrary to popular belief, our efforts to decriminalize marijuana are not that revolutionary. Twelve states in the union have decriminalized laws on their books. Medicinal marijuana co-ops in California serve the needs of 15,000 ill people. That's more people than all of Canada's medicinal marijuana pharmacies combined. California residents voted in favour of a progressive medicinal marijuana law that saw compassion clubs flourish, but when the Bush administration came to power they stomped all over the state law by trying compassion club organizers in federal court. Federal judges have goose-stepped in line with the administration by refusing to allow a medicinal marijuana defense. They've gone so far as to refuse the admission of medicinal marijuana evidence by defense lawyers.

    Drug czar Walters has been exporting their extremist prohibitionist view by touring Canada on several occasions to admonish our pro-pot attitude. The decision is ours to make Walters says, but there are consequences should Canada adopt a marijuana policy that flies in the face of U.S. policy.

    “We have to be concerned about American citizens,” Walters told reporters. “When you make the penalties minimal, you get more drug use, you get more drug addiction, you get more drug production, you get more drug crime.”

    By Walters' reasoning, the U.S., with their zero tolerance policy, should have the least amount of drug use and in Holland, where marijuana has been decriminalized for decades, there would be a higher rate of marijuana consumption. Not so - reports from the Centre for Drug Research at the University of Amsterdam show that lifetime cannabis use in Holland is at 15.6 per cent, whereas use in the U.S. is closer to 33 per cent.

    The American appetite for what some consider to be the best weed in the world has Canadian drug producers exporting approximately eight hundred tons of “BC Bud,” “Quebec Gold,” and “Winnipeg Wheelchair” a year. Canada's hydroponically grown weed has surpassed Mexico's and Columbia's in terms of potency but represents only about two per cent of the amount consumed Stateside per year. Demand for Canadian weed has created a market where dealers are getting up to $5,000 U.S. (over $6700 Canadian) a pound, compared to the $3,000 Canadian a pound they get domestically.

    Source: View Magazine (Hamilton, CN ON)
    Author: Matt Mernagh
    Published: May 22, 2003
    Copyright: 2003 View Magazine

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