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  1. Alfa
    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
    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 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
    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.

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