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    Author: Christopher Foulds
    Note: Christopher Foulds is a reporter with the Abbotsford News, a sister
    paper of the Victoria News.

    U.S. GETS ITS WAY AGAIN WITH POT DECISION

    Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of the Supreme Court of Canada's
    recent 6-3 decision to uphold the laws prohibiting possession of marijuana
    is the reaction of John Walters, the United States' drug czar.

    Walters was positively abuzz with excitement upon learning that Canada's
    top court had decided against ruling that the possession law was
    unconstitutional.

    This is, of course, not new.

    When the federal Liberals had drafted a bill to decriminalize simple
    possession of pot, Martin Cauchon, then the justice minister, actually flew
    to Washington last spring to essentially obtain permission from U.S.
    Attorney General John Ashcroft to liberalize marijuana laws here.

    That Cauchon presented the pot proposal to a foreign country before
    allowing Canada's own House of Commons to view it was astounding. That the
    issue didn't generate a wave of outrage among the public is even more
    appalling.

    When Jean Chretien had introduced the original bill to decriminalize simple
    possession of pot - a bill that will be re-introduced next year in a much
    watered-down form - Walters and the Bush administration actually had the
    audacity to charge that Canada was the only country in the West to
    mishandle its drug policy.

    Such a charge is laughable, when one considers how corrupt and inept the
    U.S. war on drugs really is: The CIA imported cocaine to sell on American
    street corners to raise money to fund the Contras in their guerrilla war
    against President Daniel Ortega's Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the
    1980s.

    This is not some wild conspiracy theory. It is a documented fact presented
    in Senate hearings in Washington.

    In its majority opinion, the Supreme Court of Canada wrote that "chronic
    (marijuana) users may suffer serious health problems. Vulnerable groups are
    at a particular risk . ."

    If health concerns are reason enough to continue to make criminals out of
    people who indulge in a joint or two, can we expect, then, a challenge to
    the current law that deems cigarettes, alcohol and sugar legal?

    It is true that the courts exists to interpret, not make, law. And simple
    possession will probably be decriminalized sometime next year.

    But the revamped bill, heavy on grow-ops and "repeat users," appears to be
    another example of capitulating to U.S. pressure to continue demonizing a
    drug that is no more harmful than many, many legal drugs.

    NDP leader Jack Layton's words, spoken following Cauchon's astonishing
    visit to Washington, D.C. last spring, ring as true today.

    "There goes Canadian sovereignty up in smoke. Here's the American
    government advising on what Canadian policy will be before the House of
    Commons even has a look at it," he said.

    It's quite astounding.


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