Pubdate: Wed, 10 Dec 2003
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Doug Beazley, Sun Media
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


EDMONTON -- The federal government's marijuana decriminalization bill is 
coming back to the Commons in 2004 -- and the U.S. ambassador is already 
warning of reduced border access for Canadian trade and travel. Martin 
spokesman Brian Guest said yesterday the prime minister-to-be backs ending 
criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of pot and plans to give 
MPs a free vote on the issue after Parliament resumes next month.


But decriminalization has divided the Grit caucus, and a free vote might 
defeat the bill.

And while U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci acknowledged yesterday Canada has 
the right to set its own drug policy, he warned Ottawa could be setting the 
stage for a border crackdown if the bill makes it easier to get weed here.

"Our concern is the perception of this is that this is a weakening of the 
law ... that it will be easier to get marijuana in Canada," he said.

"Our customs and immigration officers, they're law-enforcement officers. If 
they think it's easier to get marijuana in Canada, they're going to be on 
the lookout."

Cellucci insists decriminalization won't affect diplomatic relations 
between Ottawa and Washington.

"This is a legitimate public policy decision for Canada to make."

The bill's return might surprise a few Martin supporters. Many backbenchers 
believed Martin would let it die.
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager