Pubdate: Sat, 31 May 2003
Source: Salina Journal, The (KS)
Copyright: 2003 -- The Salina Journal
Author: Tom Bell, The Salina Journal
Note: Tom Bell is Editor and Publisher of The Salina Journal
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


The Issue


The Argument

Canada displays common sense

Our Canadian neighbors want to base marijuana laws on common sense, but 
their proposals aren't winning any friends in Washington.

Border trade between our countries may be at risk as a result.

This week Canadian lawmakers introduced a measure that would decriminalize 
possession of small amounts of marijuana, while increasing funds for 
education on the risks of drug use. Those caught with 15 grams or less 
would be cited and fined but would not have a criminal record. That amount 
is equal to about half an ounce.

The proposal has broad support, and is praised for directing precious law 
enforcement resources toward more dangerous crime.

As reported this week by the Associated Press, two Parliament committees 
recommend easing marijuana laws, as does Prime Minister Jean Chretien. 
Ontario courts have declared federal possession laws invalid and Canada's 
Supreme Court is considering a constitutional challenge to possession laws.

A majority of Canadians supports decriminalization, and this latest 
proposed change is welcomed by the Canadian Medical Association and 
Canadian Bar Association.

That support is not reflected south of the border, where the U.S. 
government would rather spend more than $40 billion per year fighting a 
prohibition-style drug war that has little impact on usage.

And consider this illustration of anti-marijuana paranoia in the Bush 
administration. John Walters, director of the U.S. Office of National Drug 
Control Policy, warns that Canada's proposals will increase the flow of 
marijuana into the United States, and that U.S. border security may have to 
tighten as a result.

Think about that for a moment: Walters is making veiled threats against the 
largest trading partnership in the world -- trade worth $1 billion per day 
- -- because Canada might remove criminal penalties for those carrying half 
an ounce of marijuana.

What nonsense.

But that's the kind of thinking that dominates U.S. drug policy. While 
Canada moves toward common sense penalties for small amounts of marijuana, 
Washington continues down a hard-nosed, fruitless path that wastes billions 
of dollars every year.
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MAP posted-by: Tom