Canada's CTV News reported
Sunday that the much unloved Liberal government bill to decriminalize marijuana
is dead at least until after the next elections. First introduced
in 2004, the bill would make possession of less than 15 grams a ticketable
offense without a criminal record, but it would also increase penalties
for any cultivation of more than three pot plants.
Prime Minister Paul Martin's
effort to slightly modify Canada's marijuana laws turned out to be the
red-headed stepchild of Canadian politics. Pushed only limply by
the Liberal Party leadership, the bill was reflexively opposed by the Conservative
Party, and won only limited support from the Bloc Quebecois and the New
Democratic Party, both of whom demanded substantial changes in the bill.
Neither did it garner support
from Canada's pot people, who saw it as a measly half-step that could end
up making matters worse not only for growers, but also for users, who currently
are often left alone by police who don't want to waste time in court on
small-time busts but who may feel differently about writing a ticket.
In other words, Canadian reformers feared the bill could actually increase
enforcement of the marijuana possession laws.
"This bill, I'm just as happy
to see it die," Mike Foster of Canada NORML told CTV. "It just doesn't
But the bill isn't dead yet,
just comatose. Prime Minister Martin has said he will call the next
election in mid-December, which could mean an election as early as mid-winter.
But unnamed "officials" told CTV that given the lack of support and controversy
surrounding the bill, it could be years before another attempt to reform
the marijuana laws is made.
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