January 23, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 63  

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U.S. worried about Canuck pot?

By Allison Buchan-Terrell
Gazette Staff

Canada is being dubbed the new Amsterdam with its proposed marijuana legislation, causing American officials to worry their citizens will travel North to enjoy Mary Jane more than Anne of Green Gables.

Surveillance at the United States border will be bumped up in response to pending marijuana decriminalization legislation. According to an article in the Toronto Star, U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci said the increased surveillance stems from the perception that Canada is lowering punishment for pot use.

“The whole perception is that it is going to be legal,” said Ron Moran, president of the Customs Excise Union. “[People will have] less concern in terms of trafficking [being] no longer threatened by a criminal record.”

“We disagree in regards to the perception issue — [marijuana] will remain illegal in Canada,” said Rodney Moore, spokesperson for Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa. “Incorrect perceptions do little to help the situation.”

The U.S can choose to deny entry to Canadians in possession of marijuana, and it has the right to make its own rules that visitors must comply with, Moore said.

The American embassy declined comment.

“If it happens, there is going to be a growing number of people coming [to Canada] to party,” Moran said, noting that it could cause a higher number of transactions.

“We are sensitive to the issue of illicit drugs going across the border in both directions,” Moore stressed. “Customs will be more aware [and be] watching more sharply.”

He emphasized that drug trafficking is a problem for both countries, adding that Canadian-American relations are a model of co-operation, citing the Smart Border Initiative put forward in 2001.

Pete Young, from the Organic Traveller in London, said he hopes that pot-craving Americans do come north to satisfy their need for weed, as they would boost the economy. Young added that he encourages Americans to come to Canada for weed and have a safe, enjoyable time. He boasted marijuana as “one of the safer materials we have [in Canada].”



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