Newsbrief: Canadian Cities Federation Stays Firm in Support of Cannabis Decrim 9/12/03

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The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (, which for more than a century has been the national voice for Canada's town and city governments, last week reaffirmed its position in favor of cannabis decriminalization. The move came as the FCM rejected efforts by drug war hardliners to pass a resolution condemning the lessening of penalties for marijuana possession. The Liberal government of Prime Minister Jean Chretien has proposed legislation that would result in the decriminalization of simple marijuana possession, and the failed resolution is part of the political reaction to that move.

Ed Renaud, the mayor of Tecumseh, Ontario, introduced the hardline resolution, telling an FCM conference in Windsor that the federation's position sent a message to traffickers and drug users that Canada was "wide open." Allowing marijuana smokers to indulge in peace would facilitate drug use, he told the Windsor Star. "You can't just target sellers and producers, you also have to target users if you want to discourage drug use," he said.

But the FCM's crime and public safety committee squelched the resolution, choosing not to send it on to the FCM board for further debate. In the committee, members took pains to make clear that they support a strong stand against grow operators and traffickers, but wanted an end to criminal penalties against small-time offenders. "I believe we need to focus police resources and budgets towards producers and sellers and away from those who possess small amounts for their own use," said Richmond Hill deputy mayor Brenda Hogg.

One proponent of the anti-pot resolution, Windsor Councillor Bill Marra, warned that decriminalization could lead to a Yankee invasion. "It could become a huge problem in this city as many Americans will undoubtedly take advantage of relaxed legislation in this area," said Marra. Yes, increasing American tourism to Canada would be bad.

The FCM voted in 1997 to oppose the legalization of cannabis, but in reaffirming that stand earlier this year, it also urged the Canadian government to pursue "alternative judicial measures for the possession of cannabis for first time offenders not associated with another criminal act" -- in other words, decriminalization.

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Issue #302, 9/12/03 Oops! -- "Killer Ecstasy" Study Retracted, NIDA Credibility on the Line, RAVE Act Still Law | Marijuana as Budget Saver? Study Looks at Implications of Legalization in Massachusetts | Current Action Alerts: Medical Marijuana, Plan Colombia, HEA, Ashcroft's Attack on Judicial Discretion | Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions | Newsbrief: Human Rights Watch Calls California's Anti-Syringe Laws a Violation of Human Rights, Details Police Harassment of Exchanges | Arianna Huffington Speaks at UC Berkeley SSDP-Volunteer-Organized Event | Newsbrief: Tommy Chong Sentenced to Nine Months on Bong Charges | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: West Africa Drug War -- Business As Usual, Except for the Lizards | Newsbrief: Canadian Cities Federation Stays Firm in Support of Cannabis Decrim | Newsbrief: New Mexico Church Wins Ruling in Ayahuasca Case | Newsbrief: Pakistani Prison Officials Call for Different Treatment of Drug Offenders | Newsbrief: Dutch Government Seeks to Ban Cops from Enjoying Coffee Shops | Newsbrief: Connecticut Democrats to Propose Sentencing Reforms | The Reformer's Calendar

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