Pubdate: Wed, 18 Dec 2002
Source: Flamborough Post (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002, Flamborough Post
Copyright: 2002, Flamborough Post
Author: Julian Dickinson
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


John Bryden would like to put a lid on legal highs.

Despite the recommendation of a federal parliamentary committee that up to 
30 grams of marijuana possession be decriminalized, 
Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot MP John Bryden says he is "not keen 
on the situation."

The report was released Dec. 12 by a committee chaired by Burlington MP 
Paddy Torsney. It recommends that offenders receive a fine akin to a 
parking ticket instead of the current maximum six month sentence.

"There could be a variety of unforeseen consequences involved if we were to 
go ahead with it," Bryden said, citing increased consumption and health 
problems as possibilities linked to loosened laws. He likened it to the 
legalization of gambling.

"It seemed harmless at the time, but now we see it is causing great social 
harm," said Bryden. He is also concerned about possible cross-border 
conflicts between Canada and the U.S.

He alluded to border tie-ups in the late 1980s and early '90s when Canada 
increased tobacco taxes and cigarette smuggling became a concern. A similar 
situation could occur at the Canada-U.S. border if marijuana becomes more 
accessible in Canada.

"We cannot do it without the Americans," Bryden said. "We're not a country 
living in isolation. That's why we have free trade. In a free trade 
situation, everyone has to play by the same rules."

A U.S. spokesperson has said the Canadian committee's recommendations 
expressed "archaic views."

But Torsney said police resources are wasted on prosecuting the 20,000 
Canadians convicted of marijuana possession each year.

And Bryden feels that decriminalization will create pressure along Canada 
and U.S. borders. "This is an issue of cross-border trade," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager