CAN: Cellucci blowing smoke
11-15-2004 | Toronto Star
On most issues affecting the U.S. and Canada, Paul Cellucci is a model
of common sense. Despite our differences over things like same-sex
marriage and lumber, he says, what sets us apart is only that "Canada
is a little more liberal than the United States; the United States is a little
But turn to the subject of Marijuana, and the outgoing U.S. ambassador
loses his logical composure. He also comes perilously close to interfering
in the way we conduct our domestic affairs.
"Why, when we're trying to take pressure off the border, would Canada
pass a law that would put pressure on the border?" Cellucci asked
Translation: If we persist in making possession of a minuscule amount
of pot no longer a crime, Canadian tourists and exporters are going to
face even longer delays at the border.
The ambassador predicts U.S. border authorities will be stopping more
vehicles, especially if they're being driven by young people — young
people, apparently, are automatically suspected of drug-smuggling.
His excellency points out that U.S. customs, immigration and security
officials already have their hands full at border crossings trying to keep
prospective terrorists out.
In that case, why would they divert all this extra attention suddenly
to the already thriving cross-border trade in Marijuana?
Just because Parliament has decided treating kids like criminals for
passing around a joint at a party doesn't really do much to stop drug trafficking
either here or in the U.S.
There's an element of kettle as well as pot to all of this. About a dozen
U.S. states, including California and New York, have removed criminal sanctions
from Marijuana possession and there's little evidence of border slowdowns
between those that have and those that haven't.
Under our proposed law, criminal sanctions would still apply for anyone
caught with more than 15 grams of pot. In most U.S. states that have adopted
some measure of decriminalization, people are still be able to get off
with fines for having up to 28.35 grams.
Besides New York and Ohio, other states bordering Canada that have eased
pot laws more than we're about to do include Minnesota, Maine and Alaska
where the lowest penalties are imposed for possession of up to 226 grams.
It's a wonder we haven't put delays on Americans at our borders to keep
the potheads out — but, of course, we don't have the resources.
In the land of the free, U.S. presidents can't bully the states into
their own conservative agendas.
That's what makes the attempts of a U.S. ambassador to bully a bordering
nation out of its more liberal policies so much more outrageous.
Kindly butt out, Mr. Ambassador.
This is an edited excerpt
of an editorial from the Times Colonist, Victoria, B.C.