The U.S. may make it more difficult for Canadian goods to enter this country if Canada drops criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. USA Today reports that the proposal, part of an effort to overhaul Canada’s anti-drug policies, would treat most marijuana smokers the same as people who get misdemeanor traffic tickets.
A dozen U.S. states and most of the 15 nations in the European Union have eased penalties on first-time offenders in recent years. But U.S. officials are urging Canadians to resist decriminalizing marijuana.
In a campaign that has seemed heavy-handed to some Canadians, U.S. officials have said that such a change in Canada’s laws would undermine tougher anti-drug statutes in the U.S., lead to more smuggling and create opportunities for organized crime. The U.S. says marijuana is an increasing problem along the Canadian border, where U.S. inspectors seized more than 19,000 pounds of the leaf in 2002, compared with fewer than 2,000 pounds four years earlier.