While US marijuana protesters have often and deliberately embraced American patriotism -- the flag is on prominent display at events such as Washington DC's annual hemp fest -- activists in other countries have felt no such compunction. In some places, in fact, the stars and stripes are viewed not as a symbol of freedom but of oppression, and the drug war is again one of the reasons. British Columbia is now apparently among those places, at least as seen by some activists with the British Columbia Marijuana Party (BCMP).
Local activists Tim Felger and Joe Fulford joined BCMP candidate Norm Siefken in to burn an American flag at a rally in the Vancouver suburb of Abbotsford, according to the Aldergrove Star. Felger, Fulford and Siefken's protest was prompted by US marijuana policy and its insidious effect on Canadian politics, they said.
"The freedom and liberty which was defined by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington is not the same freedom and liberty that exists now under George W. Bush's dictatorship of scandals and corruption," they told the Star.
"I'm proud to stand alongside the Fraser Valley's finest marijuana activists in solidarity, and to burn the American flag; it's pretty scary that the Drug Enforcement Agency is opening up camp on our sovereign soil," said Siefken, who has run for local and national office on the BCMP ticket.
Citing concerns about British Columbia's $4 billion per year marijuana trade, the DEA opened an office in Vancouver in January. The DEA has been hyping the threat from "BC Bud," charging that it is many times stronger than marijuana smoked in the 1970s. But as the Justice Department's own web site noted: "Growers in both Canada and the United States have access to the same strains of cannabis seeds and the same cultivation technologies. Therefore, growers in both countries are capable of producing the same quality of high grade marijuana."
The BCMP activists also criticized Canadian government efforts to repress marijuana and the marijuana trade, which employs roughly 100,000 BC residents. "Right now there are a lot of statistics being abused by law enforcement, and I predict the next step will be to say BC has a high crime rate because of drugs and organized crime, but really that is because of the BC Liberals' cut to welfare," said Fulford. "Before the Americans can point fingers at the war on drugs, let's investigate the past CIA drug smuggling of crack cocaine from Nicaragua to Arkansas and South Central Los Angeles, which was documented by former LAPD officers and reported in San Jose newspapers."