HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html US Fears Drug Spillover from Canada
Pubdate: Fri, 17 May 2002
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2002 Southam Inc.
Authors: Jan Cienski, Carl Hanlon, National Post, Global Television
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Walters, John)


Border Seizures Soar

WASHINGTON -- A dramatic increase in drug seizures along the U.S.-Canadian 
border, coupled with an increasingly tolerant attitude in Canada toward 
narcotics, is fuelling U.S. concerns that Canada is becoming a source of 
drug problems for the United States.

If Canada does not halt what Washington perceives as a slide toward the 
legalization of drugs and act more vigorously to stamp out drug smuggling, 
the United States is prepared to retaliate by using the stick of tougher 
customs regulation, something which could have disastrous effects on 
Canada's U.S.-dependent economy.

"Canada is a sovereign country, but there are consequences when neighbours 
cannot co-operate on serious issues and this is a very serious issue," said 
Robert Maginnis, an advisor to White House drug czar John Walters. "It 
appears as if it's a trend going in the wrong direction and it is incumbent 
on the U.S. administration and the U.S. Congress to communicate that this 
is a key concern."

In recent years, U.S. authorities have been intercepting growing amounts of 
drugs being smuggled south from Canada, particularly the potent form of 
marijuana cultivated in British Columbia hydroponic grow houses known as 
B.C. bud.

But after border controls were tightened following the Sept. 11 terrorist 
attacks, drug seizures skyrocketed. Two years ago, the Americans seized 
2,648 kilograms of marijuana coming in from British Columbia. In 2001 that 
figure jumped to over 3,400 kilograms. So far this year U.S. Customs has 
confiscated 3,100 kilograms and expects to hit 7,300 kilograms by the end 
of the year.

In Buffalo, N.Y., U.S. Customs has seized 350 kilograms of B.C. bud this 
year, three times more than last year, said Mark MacVittie, a chief 
inspector there.

U.S. officials attribute part of the increase to tighter border security 
following the Sept. 11 attacks and part to the criminal gangs which are 
taking over the trade and shipping drugs to the United States in larger 

Corporal Scott Rintoul of the RCMP estimated that 70% of the marijuana 
grown in Canada ends up in the United States.

The potent B.C. bud, which has a THC content as high as 25%, compared to 
the 2% typical in the 1970s, is also leading to health concerns in the 
United States. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana.

Admissions for marijuana drug treatment in Washington state now exceed the 
rate for treatment of alcoholism. Cannabis admissions in Cook County, Ill., 
have risen by 400% in the last four years.

That is causing increasing anger south of the border. "One of the areas of 
growth has actually been through Canada," Mr. Walters told Congress 
recently when testifying about the U.S. drug problem.

The United States is also worried that Canada could turn into a North 
American version of the Netherlands, attracting pot-seeking tourists and 
leading to pressure in surrounding countries to ease their drug laws in turn.

A recent report from the Canadian Senate that drug control was not working 
raised alarms in Washington, which fears it heralds a move toward legalization.

Mr. Maginnis and other administration officials are already lobbying the 
Canadian government to go no further on the path toward legalization. They 
intend to make their case at a drug policy conference next month in Quebec, 
where Mr. Walters is expected to make a strong argument against legalization.

The U.S. government has already helped delay Canada's medical marijuana 
program by refusing to supply standardized marijuana seeds from a U.S. 
government marijuana farm in Mississippi.

Although several states have approved medical marijuana, the federal 
government has blocked any attempt to find legitimate uses for the drug.
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