HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html PM Rejects American's Threat Of
Pubdate: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: The Windsor Star 2004
Author: CanWest News Service
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Paul Martin is brushing aside warnings from U.S. 
Ambassador Paul Cellucci that a border crackdown and tie-ups will result if 
Canada decriminalizes marijuana, saying simply that Canada reserves the 
right to pass laws as it sees fit.

Asked for response to Cellucci's comments in a newspaper interview, Martin 
said: "Firstly, the legislation is before the House of Commons, then the 
parliamentary committee will have its discussions on all the various 
points, and we'll wait to see the legislation that comes from that.

"But Canada will make its own laws, pure and simple."

It's estimated that $1.2 billion in goods and services travel across the 
border each day.

The opposition Conservatives, who insist the draft legislation is deeply 
flawed, renewed calls to shelve the pot bill until trade disputes with the 
Bush administration over beef and softwood lumber exports are ironed out.

"Why are we bringing it forward at a time when we have so many trade 
disputes with the United States? ... I want assurances from the Americans 
that they're comfortable with (Canada's position)," said Tory justice 
critic Vic Toews.

"They're telling us it's going to impact on our trade, and if it's going to 
impact on our trade, let's bury this bill."

The draft legislation calls for fines of $150 for adults -- and $100 for 
minors -- who are caught in possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana.

The bill also proposes tougher sentences for those who produce the drug as 
part of a wider effort to stamp out so-called "grow-ops." Companion 
legislation is also aimed at curbing so-called "drug-drivers."

A similar proposal to ease marijuana laws died on the order paper when 
Parliament wrapped up prior to last summer's federal election.
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