BUSH SLAMS PLAN TO DECRIMINALIZE POT
Slack penalties encourage organized crime
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
"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 Canada has been mentioned in the annual White House
report on countries with drug problems, mainly from South America.
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 proposals, 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 Bush.
"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
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
"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.