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Provinces line up to scorn pot law

By Hempology | May 31, 2003

Growing opposition fuels doubts

From the Times Colonist, May 31, 2003

By Janice Tibbetts (CanWest News Service)

OTTAWA – The majority of provincial governments say they are against the federal
government’s plan to decriminalize marijuana, casting further doubt on whether the
bill will ever become law.

The outcry is strongest from the four largest provinces: Ontario, Quebec, British
Columbia and Alberta, who argue that relaxing possession laws sends confusing
messages to young people and encourages organized crime to grow and sell even
more marijuana.

Manitoba and New Brunswick also oppose the proposed legislation.

The provinces, responsible for the administration of justice, have big stakes in
proposals introduced earlier this week, which would require police to ticket people caught
with 15 grams or less of marijuana.

“This is just one more chip on the provinces’ shoulders and if you start adding up the
incidents, they add up to a lot,” observed David Taras, a political science professor
at University of Calgary.

But at the end of the day, it is more astute for Ottawa to base its marijuana reforms
on public opinion rather than provincial concerns, Taras said.

Ontario Attorney General Norm Sterling complains that he was not “properly consulted”
about the new bill. He had only one telephone conversation with Justice Minister
Martin Cauchon, who personally flew to the U.S. in a failed attempt to sell his plan
to Attorney General John Ashcroft.

With over $1 billion traded daily between the U.S. and Canada, Sterling and Ontario
has the most to lose if the U.S. decides goes ahead with threats to tighten its border
with Canada because of drug concerns.

B.C. Solicitor General Rich Coleman said the federal government is not spending enough
money to accompany a proposal to stiffen penalties against marijuana grow operations.

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