Washington Turns Up Heat On Canada Over Marijuana Plans

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by D9_THC, Jun 15, 2003.

  1. OTTAWA ( Reuters ) - The head of U.S. drug policy launched one of his strongest attacks on Friday on Canada's plans to relax penalties for marijuana possession, and dismissed as "ridiculous" one of Ottawa's main reasons for pushing ahead with the idea.

    The Canadian government will introduce draft legislation later this month that would replace jail terms and criminal records with fines of perhaps C$100 ( $73 ) for possession of 15 grams ( half an ounce ) or less of pot.

    John Walters, director of the White House office of National Drug Control Policy, said he feared this would hamper U.S. efforts to cut the amount of powerful Canadian-grown marijuana from being smuggled across the border.

    "The problem now is that the high-potency marijuana business is growing uncontrollably in Canada... You're sending us the crack equivalent of marijuana and that's bad for both countries," he told CBC television.

    "What we've been trying to do with Canadian officials ( is learn ) 'What's the plan to make this smaller as a harm to the United States?' And there isn't one now, that's the problem," he said.

    Canadian Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, who will introduce the legislation at the end of May, criticizes existing marijuana laws for being largely ineffective and enforced unevenly.

    Supporters of the legislation say it would allow police to focus on catching organized crime gangs dealing in drugs rather than arresting and charging small-time pot users.

    But Walters strongly questioned this argument, saying there was no evidence Canadian law enforcement officials were cracking down on marijuana users.

    "It's completely ridiculous to suggest that Canada is locking up users in significant numbers. That's not happening. In fact, to claim they're even being arrested in large numbers is a distortion. That's what Canadian law enforcement tells me," he said.

    Walters complained that penalties for drug users were not harsh enough in Canada and suggested -- as he has done in the past -- that border security might have to be tightened if the law were passed. This could have a crushing effect on Canadian exporters, which are heavily reliant on the U.S. market.

    Canadian Solicitor-General Wayne Easter, in overall charge of law enforcement, said Walters should wait to see the details of the legislation.

    "When the entire strategy comes out, as will happen in the last two or three days of the month, I think Mr. Walters as well as others in the United States will see that we are in fact making fairly major moves forward," he told reporters.

    "Our objective is to make those borders secure and to do what we have to do to eliminate the movement of high quality ( marijuana )... anyone caught smuggling the product across the border will face very severe penalties."

    Cauchon says an estimated 100,000 of Canada's 30 million people are using pot daily and the numbers are increasing. He has said that marijuana would remain illegal, even if no longer criminal, and that penalties would be toughened substantially for marijuana-growing operations.

    Several U.S. states, including New York, California, Oregon and Ohio, have already relaxed laws on simple possession and issue fines to those found with small amounts of marijuana.

    URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v03.n718.a07.html
    Newshawk: End Marijuana Prohibition: www.mpp.org
    Pubdate: Fri, 16 May 2003
    Source: Reuters (Wire)
    Copyright: 2003 Reuters Limited
    Author: David Ljunggren
    Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/mjcn.htm (Cannabis - Canada)
    Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/walters.htm (Walters, John)
  2. criticizes existing marijuana laws for being largely ineffective and enforced unevenly.

    sounds very familiar doesnt it.
  3. All Canada has to say is, "Hey, if we don't do this the courts
    will make it legal."

    Actually, I'm hoping that Canada takes it's own sweet time
    passing these laws. Maybe then the supreme court will
    declare all marijuana laws null and void. That might happen
    anyway. I hope, I hope.
  4. it may happen at an even more grassroots level like generally occurred oer here in the uk... most police just couldnt be bothered wasting their time with it and it was only when other people complained that they'd actually have to go do something. In Scotland its (supposedly) officially the "lowest priority".

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