US DRUG WARRIORS THREATEN CANADA - BY REQUEST?
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DrugSense FOCUS Alert #274 August 28, 2003
When it comes to drug policy, the people are way ahead of the politicians. And Canada is light years ahead of its southern neighbor. Like many Western countries, Canada has largely abandoned zero tolerance in a favor of harm reduction. Interestingly enough, it's not safe-injection rooms or the very real prospect of heroin maintenance pilot projects that have drawn the ire of U.S. drug warriors, but rather marijuana decriminalization.
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has conducted a relentless cross-border reefer madness campaign ever since Canada's Senate proposed marijuana legalization in 2002, even going so far as to repeatedly threaten Canada with a trade-inhibiting border crackdown. US pressure notwithstanding, marijuana law reform continues to move forward in Canada - despite the efforts of some Members of Parliament who actively sought out U.S. drug war misinformation.
In a disturbing August 27th editorial, the National Post reveals that opposition elements in Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien's own party conspired with the ONDCP to thwart marijuana law reforms. Write the National Post today to thank them for exposing Canada's reefer madness holdouts. Be sure to remind them that U.S. drug policy is not worthy of emulation.
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Source: National Post (Canada)
As one of Canada's two large national newspapers, the National Post is always a worthy target for letters to the editor. The average published letter is about 160 words in length; however, well written letters of up to 250 words have been published.
Pubdate: Wed, 27 Aug 2003
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2003 Southam Inc.
A DOPEY LOBBY
It is nothing new for Jean Chretien to be feuding with backbenchers. But while the Prime Minister may have himself to blame for some of his deteriorating relations, he appears to have had good cause to blow his top at several of his caucus members last week.
In July, a group of Liberal MPs met with Barry Crane, the U.S. deputy drug czar. The MPs claim the point of the meeting was simply to help them gain an understanding of U.S. concerns over Canada's plan to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. But a Foreign Affairs official who attended and took notes has reported that they used the opportunity to actively lobby the U.S. government to press its objections to the policy change by tying it to trade and border disputes. "All the attendees were highly critical of the proposed cannabis reform bill," the official's memo noted. "The apparent aim of the members of the meeting was to solicit the help of U.S. officials to defeat [it]."
Although some of the MPs have claimed that their intentions have been misreported, at least one -- Brenda Chamberlain -- has admitted not only that she and others asked Mr. Crane to tell the PM and federal bureaucrats about the possibility of border problems if the law passed, but that they asked him to repeat those concerns when he indicated he had already expressed them. And according to reports, Liberal MP Dan McTeague -- who the memo says conveyed "the obvious implication that the only thing that would stop [decriminalization] was U.S. influence" -- gave Mr. Crane's officials a memo listing the bill's flaws.
Assuming the MPs have not been unfairly smeared by these reports, their conduct was inexcusable: Given the damage that has already been wrought against our economy thanks to existing U.S. restrictions on softwood lumber and beef, we hardly need our elected MPs manufacturing yet another problem. Indeed, the backbenchers' spiteful campaign against the government's sensible marijuana reforms contravenes the national interest they were elected to protect.
Somewhere along the way, Ms. Chamberlain, Mr. McTeague and others appear to have lost perspective. As some of Mr. Chretien's toughest critics, their tactics have grown increasingly aggressive over the past couple of years. Ordinarily, that's just fine; given the weak state of the opposition parties, a little friendly fire is a constructive thing. But attempting to turn our neighbours against us represents a step too far.
Your August 27th editorial was right on target. Clearly the Liberal MPs who actively sought out U.S. drug warriors to thwart long-overdue marijuana law reform never bothered to consider the experience of the former land of the free and current record holder in citizens incarcerated. Police searches on public transit, drug-sniffing dogs in schools and suspicionless drug testing have led to a loss of civil liberties in the United States, while failing miserably at preventing drug use.
The University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future Study reports that lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the U.S. than any European country, yet the U.S. is one of the few Western countries that uses its criminal justice system to punish citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis. Unfortunately, marijuana represents the counterculture to reactionaries intent on legislating their version of morality. Canada should follow the lead of Europe and Just Say No to the American Inquisition.
Sincerely, Juan Costo
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