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Canada May Ease Pot Laws

May 28, 2003|From Associated Press

TORONTO — A bill was introduced Tuesday in Canada's Parliament that would eliminate criminal records for possession of small amounts of marijuana while spending millions to spread an anti-pot message.

Having up to 15 grams -- about half an ounce -- of marijuana would bring a citation akin to a traffic ticket. Possession of the drug would remain illegal.

People younger than 18 could be fined up to $182; adults could be fined $292. The maximum sentence for illegal growers would be increased to 14 years in prison from the current seven, and trafficking would remain punishable by up to life in prison.

Justice Minister Martin Cauchon said the law includes a $179-million program aimed at dissuading young people from using drugs.

John P. Walters, director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, said liberalizing the laws will bring more marijuana into the United States. U.S. officials say the law could lead to increased border security measures.

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