Canada's Pot Tolerance is Under Attack

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Fri, 03/21/2008 - 11:58am.

The marijuana harvest in British Columbia generated about 7 billion Canadian dollars last year ($7 billion U.S.), making it one of the most lucrative industries in the Canadian province.

But after a string of high-profile arrests and slayings -- including the execution-style murders of six people in October -- the easygoing attitude that has long surrounded marijuana in Canada is under attack.

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is calling for a cultural shift, to be enforced by what his political opponents are calling an American-style war on drugs. He has introduced legislation that would set mandatory minimum jail sentences for marijuana growers and traffickers, and stepped up enforcement of laws already on the books and is seeking more money for enforcement and prosecution.

"What we are up against ... is a culture that since the 1960s has at the minimum not discouraged drug use and romanticized it or made it cool, made it acceptable," Mr. Harper said when he announced his plan in October. The bill is expected to come up for legislative debate next month.

Canadians use marijuana more than any country in Europe, Asia or Latin America, according to the United Nations' 2007 World Drug Report. Only people in Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, Ghana and Zambia smoke more. That news in July elicited the headline "The True North Stoned and Free," in the typically staid Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail. A poll by the Angus Reid Global Monitor that month found that 55 percent of Canadians think marijuana should be legalized.

Starting with the efforts of a group of American war resisters in the 1970s, British Columbia has been at the forefront of Canada's marijuana industry. By 2000, pot was grown in 17,500 homes in the province, said a study by Simon Fraser University economist Steve Easton. In 2001, the Canadian government showed a tolerance for cannabis by becoming the first nation to regulate its consumption for medical reasons. In 2004, the government, headed then by Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, reintroduced a bill to decriminalize possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana, making it subject to a fine but leaving no criminal record. The bill never came up for a vote.


Source - DetNews - March 21, 2008 - posted at

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Fri, 03/21/2008 - 11:58am.