Wednesday, May 28, 2003


TORONTO, May 27 -- The Canadian government introduced legislation today to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, a move that U.S. officials said could increase the amount of marijuana smuggled across the border. Under the bill, possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana, about half an ounce, would become punishable by fines of up to the equivalent of about $290 U.S. for adults and $182 for minors. Backed by Prime Minister Jean Chretien's ruling Liberal Party, the measure has a good chance of passing because of the party's strong majority in Parliament, political analysts said.

Chretien is proceeding despite firm opposition from the Bush administration, which views the measure as encouraging drug use and creating an environment of permissiveness. "Some of the strongest and most dangerous marijuana on the U.S. market is coming from Canada," John P. Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said in a telephone interview today. "That production has been rapidly expanding and is largely unchecked."

Some of the strongest and "most dangerous" marijuana on the U.S. market is coming from Canada? And here I thought California had the "most dangerous" ganja. Smoke 'em if ya got 'em!

Unfortunately, if Chimpco has his way, Oregonians will lose their right to medical marijuana:


There's been a most interesting battle these past couple of years, pitting John Ashcroft, the U.S. attorney general, against states in the union. If states allows medical marijuana, Ashcroft and company are after them.

And Oregonians have supported -- you guessed it -- medical marijuana.

The attorney general hasn't chalked up many victories. Just this week, Maryland became the 10th state since 1996 to ease or eliminate sanctions for medical use of marijuana. A total of 13 state legislatures have considered medical-marijuana bills since fall 2002. The governor of Maryland was getting stiff-armed pretty good by the Bush administration not to sign the legislation. Thing is, Gov. Robert Ehrlich is a Republican. And his message to Washington, D.C., was much the same as the message sent by former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, back in the day: Hands off. Our state's citizens know what they're doing.

Anyone remember the good old days, when Republicans were the party of states' rights and the Democrats were the party of big government dominating little government? It's getting so you can't tell the players without a scorecard anymore. But I digress.

A quick history of Oregon's medical marijuana act: It was approved by voters in 1998. Oregon is now one of nine states that allows medical use of marijuana. Patients in all those states, except California, have to produce their own marijuana or receive it as a donation. Not everyone is eligible. Patients must have specified medical conditions, such as cancer, glaucoma or AIDS. Or they must have conditions resulting in severe pain or nausea, seizures or persistent muscle spasms.

So far, about 4,500 Oregonians are registered with the program through the Department of Human Services. Each patient can produce three mature and four immature plants, and patients can possess up to 7 ounces of weed.

None of which pleases Ashcroft.

The Bush administration's fight against marijuana took a somewhat weird turn last week. House Republicans, on behest of Ashcroft and Bush, pressed for a bill that would strip federal anti-drug money from local police in states that have passed medical marijuana laws. According to a May 22 article by Associated Press writer Larry Margasak, groups opposed to strict criminal enforcement of marijuana laws said more than $11 million could be eliminated from state and local police budgets in "high-intensity" drug trafficking areas. The money would go, instead, to federal law-enforcement officers because local police could not enforce all marijuana laws in states that legalized the drug for medical use.

So basically, if you've passed a medical-marijuana law, this bill would strip your state of money needed to crack down on methamphetamine or cocaine or heroin. U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley, who represents the Salem area, disagrees with the bill. She has vowed to fight the bill in Congress. And she has bragging rights on the tough-on-drugs issue because she helped three Oregon counties, including Marion County, become designated as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas. That made them eligible for extra federal bucks. She also garnered federal money for the Marion Area Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team, which focuses on meth sales.

Bush, Ashcroft and House Republicans want to focus attention on marijuana use, even for glaucoma and cancer patients, at the expense of programs to fight coke and meth and such.

Hooley probably would refer to such a policy as a pipe dream.

So much for that "Compassionate Conservatism" bullshit.......