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U.S. warns on pot bill

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EDMONTON -- The federal government's controversial marijuana
decriminalization bill is coming back to the Commons in 2004 -- and the U.S.
ambassador is already warning of reduced border access for Canadian trade
and travel. And while U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci acknowledged yesterday
Canada has the right to set its own drug policy, he warned Ottawa could be
setting the stage for a border crackdown if the bill makes weed easier to
get here.

"Our concern is the perception of this is that this is a weakening of the
law ... that it will be easier to get marijuana in Canada," he said during
an Edmonton stopover.

"Our customs and immigration officers, they're law-enforcement officers. If
they think it's easier to get marijuana in Canada, they're going to be on
the lookout for it.

"That's going to put pressure on the border at a time when we've been trying
to take pressure off it. We don't want to have a lot of young people having
their vehicles inspected when they're crossing the border."

The bill's return might surprise a few of Paul Martin's longtime supporters
in caucus. Many backbenchers believed the prime minister designate, anxious
to avoid a confrontation with Washington, would let the bill die a quiet

Pubdate: Wednesday, December 10, 2003
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Contact: editor@wpgsun.com
Website: Under Construction fyiwinnipeg.com
Author: Sun Media