HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Alliance MP Favours Decrimalizing Marijuana
Pubdate: Mon, 22 Jul 2002
Source: Chilliwack Progress (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 The Chilliwack Progress
Author: Robert Freeman


Canadian Alliance MP Randy White, a tough law-and-order advocate, says he 
personally favours decriminalizing marijuana, but repeat offenders should 
face more than a simple fine.

`There is no way on earth we can stop the smoking and use of marijuana,' 
the Abbotsford-Langley MP said. `We can scare people so they go underground 
with it ... but this can't be stopped. It's how to manage it.'

Mr. White, who is vice chairman of a Parliamentary committee looking into 
the issue, lashed out at `irresponsible' comments made last week by Justice 
Minister Martin Cauchon on possible decriminalization of pot before a 
committee report goes to the House of Commons on Nov. 30.

`It has to be said the Minister is speaking from a position of ignorance,' 
Mr. White said in a telephone interview. `If you think about it, here's 
this guy who's been minister for four months or so, speaking on behalf of 
all Canadians that this is what he's going to do.

`He pre-empts the knowledge base (of the committee) which just shows how 
arrogant these (Liberal) people are,' he added. `We have to watch out in 
this country for people who think because they have a portfolio they know 
what's best for everybody.'

But after a recent tour of coffee shops in Holland and Switzerland where 
smoking of marijuana is legal =AD but not its sale =AD Mr. White said he 
now believes there is `some merit' in decriminalization.

`I think there is some merit to allowing police on-the-spot discretion when 
they find an individual in possession of marijuana,' he said. But he also 
believes there should be an `escalating' fine structure for repeat 
offenders, at the end of which a criminal record would still be imposed.

Continued: MARIJUANA/ page 6

Decriminalization may sound like an easy solution to the problem of hanging 
criminal records on thousands of otherwise lawful-minded Canadians, but Mr. 
White warns that the solution comes with its own problems: pitting Canada 
against the United States where the war on drugs is still going strong, and 
drawing pot smokers `like a magnet' to this country.

He said one man from London, who goes to Holland `to smoke his mind out' 
for a week or so, told him marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or 
cigarettes, so what's the problem?

`There's nobody in the world... with an answer to this yet, and I don't 
expect Canada to come up with one,' Mr. White said. `I think we (in Canada) 
have to decide what's in it for us, what's best for our society and how do 
we in our generation protect the next generation.'

He was also told in Holland that decriminalization had led to immigration 
problems as marijuana users moved there to escape `persecution' in their 
own countries.

`They said it's a real problem,' Mr. White said. `Their lax laws are like a 
magnet to those who see themselves as being persecuted.'

U.S. government officials are `very firm' on pot, he said, giving Canada a 
`clear message' that `if you move to decriminalize we're going to be very 
strict at the borders. You can expect slow-downs, checking you over 
thoroughly (for marijuana).'

Last week in Chilliwack, U.S. pot activist Steve Kubby and his wife Michele 
were in B.C. Supreme Court applying for political refugee status as members 
of a persecuted social group.

The 55-year-old California resident is one of about 100 Americans who say 
they have chronic illnesses and come to live along B.C.'s Sunshine Coast 
because pot laws are more lax here.

Mr. Kubby is also seeking an `interim' medical exemption to use marijuana 
after he was charged by Sechelt RCMP with cultivating marijuana for 
trafficking purposes.

`Cannabis keeps me alive,' said Mr. Kubby, after `every therapy you could 
possibly imagine' failed to cure the adrenal cancer he claims he has 
suffered from for the past 26 years.

`I'm the only person to survive more than a few years,' he told The 
Progress, adding that unless he can grow his own marijuana `I have to buy 
it on the black market' because the Sechelt compassion club `doesn't stock 
enough to supply someone like me.'

His court hearing was adjourned until next month.
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