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Canada will fight it’s own drug war

By Hempology | May 5, 2003

From the Times Colonist, May 5th, 2003

American concern over our tolerance of drugs is understandable, but
it’s too early to judge

Just when we thought things along our border were looking a little brighter,
we learned last wek taht more barriers may be going up in future. Why? Because
we’re getting too lax ond rugs, and American officials don’t like it.

After the Americans’ anger with usf or not supporting their invasion of
Iraq began to die down last month, we were assured tha Canadian
citizens wouldn’t have to be subjected to long delays at the border so
they could be screened to see if they were terrorists.

U.S. government officials began to talk about easing the tensions over such
trade issues as softwood lumber. The leading Liberal leadership contender,
Paul Martin, began talking about closer co-operation between Canada and the
U.S., covering everything from trade to “homeland” defence.

But last week, David Murray, special assistant in the Office of National Drug
Control Policy, was in Vancouver to lecture municipal politicians, health officials
and senior police officers about the oflly of our ways over drugs. He was particularly
exercised about the federal government’s stated intention to decriminalize simple
possession of small amounts of marijuana, and Vancouver’s move to open North America’s
first injection site for drug users.

Canada was at “a critical juncture”, he warned. Decriminalization of marijuana is
causing U.S. officials “concern and some regret,” he said, almost echoing U.S.
Ambassador Paul Cellucci’s statement that the White House was “disappointed and upset”
about our decision not to send troops to Iraq.

Murray suggested that U.S. officials would have to respond to a concern “about what
is coming into our country” once possessing pot is no longer a criminal offence. He
suggested U.S. authorities would have to take action “to prevent the flow of illicit
substances” that is now being dealt with co-operatively with Canadaian authorities.

then he proceeded to lecture his Canadian audiences on the dangers of drugs, as if they
were high school classes: more young people will use pot if it’s no longer a crime to
possess it, police resources will be strapped, the must vulnerable minority communities
will be harmed byt the increased accessibility of marijuana.

Murray argued that Vancouver’s four-fpillars drug policy won’t work. He said
providing a free injection site to help prevent overdoses and infections won’t
entire addicts to take treatment. They need “incentives” – sometimes harsh ones -
to break the habit, he declared.

A lot of this sounds just as one would expect from the Office of National Drug Control
Policy, which has fought, largely successfully, against any easing of drug laws in
the U.S. Murray certainly didn’t seemt o feel there’s any need to see what our
initiatives accomplish before condemning them outright.

But if we want to avoid being detained at the border, we’ll have to show the Americans
we’re not turning Vancouver into a seedy spa for addicts around the world, or that
we’re all driving around stoned half the times. At least we should persuade them
not to close downt he border until we’ve had time to see the results of our efforts.

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