Details of marijuana bill expected this week News Staff
Updated: Mon. May. 12 2003 6:36 AM ET

While Ottawa is expected to unveil new legislation next week that will decriminalize marijuana possession for small amounts, the specifics of the 'highly' anticipated bill remain a mystery.

"This Liberal government has no national drug strategy. If we're going to decriminalize marijuana ... let's have a national strategy and deal with marijuana, heroine, crack and so on," Canadian Alliance MP Randy White told CTV's Question Period on Sunday.

There have been varying reports about just how much marijuana will land users a fine rather than a criminal record under the new scheme.

The Globe and Mail has cited sources who pegged 15 grams as the limit, while earlier reports have set the amount at 30 grams.

"It's not as simple as just decriminalizing. I want to see what the bill is. I want to see how much the limit is. I want to see what the fines are. I want to see how they're going to collect them because that certainly is a problem," added White.

B.C. Marijuana Party President Marc Emery told Question Period the outright legalization of marijuana and other illegal drugs is the preferable drug policy.

"We want an end to organized crime handling these drugs. We want adults and teenagers, if they get these drugs, to know what they're getting," Emery said.

"We want people out of jails. We want the courts not to be filled with drug crime. We want the streets to be safe. All these things can be accomplished if we legalize marijuana and all the other prohibited drugs," he added.

Toking and driving

Marijuana users driving under the influence of the drug is a potential problem the government must take into account if it plans to decriminalize the plant, White said.

"We do have to have roadside assessment capabilities. That's one of the things that has to be considered if (marijuana) is going to be decriminalized," he said.

But, Emery will not brook the notion of testing drivers for marijuana use.

"The idea of judging impairment by what's in your body is a completely false premise. You shouldn't be worried about what's in people's bodies, you should be worried about how impaired they are when they are behind the wheel," he said.

"We should be measuring whether you're coordinated, whether you can touch your nose, whether you can recite the alphabet ... in other words if you have your coordination skills about you then you're not impaired," Emery added.

With reports from CTV's Question Period and Canadian Press

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