HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Relaxed Pot Laws Alarm U.S.
Pubdate: Sat, 18 Sep 2004
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2004 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Janice Tibbetts, CanWest News Service
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Bush, George)


Report From President Bush Warns Congress of Link to Organized Crime

OTTAWA - Only weeks before the Martin government plans to revive a
marijuana decriminalization bill, the U.S. has taken another pot-shot
at Canada by saying its slack drug penalties amount to an "invitation"
for organized crime.

"We are concerned that the lack of judicial sanctions against
marijuana producers is resulting in greater involvement in the
burgeoning marijuana industry by organized criminal groups," said a
report from President George W. Bush to the U.S. Congress.

It's the second year that Canada has been mentioned in the annual
White House report on countries with drug problems, mainly from South

Although Canada is not on the official list of 22 major drug producers
and transit countries, it is noted as a country of concern.

Prime Minister Paul Martin said recently he would revive a bill this
fall to decriminalize possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana, so
users would be fined $100 to $400 instead of receiving criminal records.

The legislation also proposes to double the maximum jail terms for
people caught cultivating marijuana.

The Chretien-era proposals, which have been in the works for two
years, died when the federal election was called last spring.

The White House cited Canada's proposed bill as an irritant to

"The president said that he was concerned the consideration of
cannabis reform legislation could be an invitation to greater activity
by organized crime and undermine enforcement and prosecutorial
efforts," said a news release.

The report, however, stressed that its criticism is against Canadian
politicians, not police, whom the White House praised for diligence in
trying to stem the flow of drugs across the border and clamp down on
organized crime.

"United States and Canadian law enforcement have collaborated on a
number of investigations that have led to the dismantling of several
criminal organizations," the report said.

It also noted that Canada has expressed concern about cocaine and
other illegal drugs coming from the U.S.

Canada's drug policy, which also allows the use of marijuana for
medical purposes, has been a constant irritant at the White House.

"Certainly the RCMP realizes what a serious problem this is, we just
hope the political leadership and the rest of Canada comes to the
understanding that marijuana that is being produced in Canada is much
stronger that it used to be and it is not a soft drug," said Rafael
Lemaitre, a White House spokesman for drug policy. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake