Pubdate: Tue, 18 Dec 2007
Source: Lethbridge Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 The Lethbridge Herald
Author: Dave Mabell
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


A pro-marijuana group took its protest to Lethbridge streets Monday.

Warmly-dressed protesters rallied in front of MP Rick Casson's 
office, after parading their signs through the city centre. They were 
opposing the Conservative government's plans for compulsory jail 
terms for people selling street drugs.

Tamara Cartwright, spokesperson for more than a dozen who turned out 
for the city's first pro-pot demonstration, said the planned law 
changes could make criminals of people like her who rely on marijuana 
for pain control.

"All this means is that hard-working Canadians that use a bit of weed 
will be sitting in jail rather than working," she said. "This is not 
the solution."

Speaking for the Southern Alberta Cannabis Club, she said public 
education and government regulation 'like liquor' would be a better 
response than an American-style "war on drugs."

"Addiction is a medical issue and should be treated as such," 
Cartwright said. "Prohibition is a waste of our tax money."

The Coaldale woman hoped to take that message to Casson, during a 
meeting scheduled later in the day. Demonstrations were planned 
Monday in front of scores of MPs' offices across Canada, in response 
to Bill C-26 introduced late last month in Parliament.

The bill calls for a mandatory prison sentence when police can link a 
marijuana seller with organized crime, and a two-year minimum when 
anyone is found with a grow-op where more than 500 plants are being raised.

The maximum sentence for growing cannabis could double to 14 years, 
if Parliament passes the bill as tabled by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.

"Cannabis is the least of our problems," said Cartwright. Yet the 
Harper government seems determined to spend at extra $62.5 million 
tax dollars "on an American style drug war that has proven not to be 

Protesters claimed while one-third of Canadians oppose full 
legalization and regulation of marijuana, the rest are moderately or 
strongly in favour. A recent SES Research poll, they said, found just 
eight per cent of Canadians who were interviewed remained in favour 
of criminal prohibition. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake