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RM Issue #031015

Political madness infects marijuana debate

Jim McNulty The Province Sunday, October 12, 2003


When it comes to marijuana laws, governments on both sides of the border blow more smoke than an Okanagan forest fire.

The House of Commons, the White House, the U.S. Congress -- it really doesn't matter. Marijuana laws are downright potty from the High Arctic to the Mexican border.

If there is a Canadian alive today who understands the current state of this nation's possession and medical pot laws, I'd like to meet him or her.

Paralyzed by the to-and-fro dithering of Jean Chretien's Liberals, alternately tossed, upheld and reworked by various courts across the land, our marijuana laws make the tax code look simple.

It isn't any better in the United States, where the manic White House continues to ignore state laws permitting medicinal pot. The feds prefer to bust the sick.

This is what you get when supposedly advanced societies ignore the failures and lessons of the past in favour of mindless pandering to false fear.

The lesson of the past is prohibition, which didn't work for alcohol and won't work for marijuana. The false fear is that pot is on a par with heroin and cocaine, even though a B.C. Court of Appeal judge says a joint is no worse than a martini.

White House drug czar John Walters is the worst of the fear-mongers, launching yet another paranoid and uncivilized attack on Canada last week.

When Jean Chretien cracked a joke about trying pot in his retirement, the decidedly humourless Walters went into ballistic-missile mode.

The man had the gall to tell Canadians that we're "ashamed" of Chretien's joke, when it's actually George W. Bush's joke presidency we're embarrassed by.

Just where does Walters get off claiming that Canada "is the only country in this hemisphere that's become a major drug producer." He should loosen his twisted knickers and have a good look in his own back yard.

Pot production in America's national parks has increased to the point where a U.S. House committee held hearings Friday in the Sierra Nevada mountains to get a "ground-floor" understanding of the issue.

According to the Fresno Bee, more than 500,000 marijuana plants were seized last year from California's national forests and Interior Department property. In June, 40,000 opium poppies were discovered in California's Sierra National Forest.

According to one congressional memo, "anecdotal evidence suggests that, at best, federal law enforcement officials identify about one-third to one-half of the marijuana cultivation sites."

California Rep. Devin Dunes put it in plainer language: "We've had more drugs found on our public lands than on most other public lands in the country."

And Walters wants to chew out Canada? On behalf of the nation, I'm here to tell him we're ashamed of his bad behaviour.

Back home, it is thought that old pot possession laws are valid again in the wake of a new Ontario court ruling. But the old law is to be replaced by a new law decriminalizing possession of a small amount originally set at 15 grams and now headed for 10 grams. Maybe.

If it makes it through the truncated fall session of Parliament, which is unlikely.

Expect more hopeless time-wasting until pot is legalized, taxed and sold like alcohol.

Voice mail: 604-605-2094.

E-mail: jmcnulty@png.canwest.com



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