Canada's Marijuana Tolerance Under Attack


The Marijuana industry in British Columbia generated about 7 billion Canadian dollars last year ($7 billion U.S.), making it one of the most lucrative industries in the Canadian province. Now the easygoing attitude that has long surrounded marijuana in Canada is under attack.

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is calling for a cultural shift, to be enforced by what his political opponents are calling an American-style  'war on drugs'. He has introduced legislation that would set mandatory minimum jail sentences for marijuana growers and traffickers, and stepped up enforcement of laws already on the books and is seeking more money for enforcement and prosecution.

What we are up against ... is a culture that since the 1960s has at the minimum not discouraged drug use and romanticized it or made it cool, made it acceptable," Harper said

Starting with the efforts of a group of American war resisters in the 1970s, British Columbia has been at the forefront of Canada's marijuana industry. By 2000, pot was grown in 17,500 homes in the province, said a study by Simon Fraser University economist Steve Easton. In 2001, the Canadian government showed a tolerance for cannabis by becoming the first nation to regulate its consumption for medical reasons.

According to the United Nations' 2007 World Drug Report, Canadians use marijuana more than any country in Europe, Asia or Latin America.

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