Canada: Liberals Give Up on Marijuana Decriminalization Bill for Now 9/16/05

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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 please anybody."

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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Issue #403 -- 9/16/05

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Feature: Judges and Legislators from Across Latin America Call for Radical Drug Law Reform | Feature: REFORMA Issues the Buenos Aires Declaration, Eyes 2008 Vienna UN Session | Feature: Cannabis Culture in Buenos Aires -- Alive and Smokin', But With One Eye Peeled for the Police | Europe: Former Scottish High Court Judge Says Legalize It | Weekly: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Canada: Liberals Give Up on Marijuana Decriminalization Bill for Now | Health Canada Revisits Proposal to Distribute Medical Cannabis in Licensed Pharmacies | Latin America: In Continuing Spat, US Decertifies Venezuela for Lack of Anti-Drug Cooperation | Web Scan: Cato Pain Forum, Slate on Rehnquist and Placidyl, Alternet on the Marijuana War, NORML Video Blog | Weekly: This Week in History | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar |

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