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U.S. Drug Czar Won't Testify About Marijuana Law Reform


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Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Author: Janice Tibbetts, The Ottawa Citizen 
Published: Tuesday, November 04, 2003
Copyright: 2003 The Ottawa Citizen
Contact: [email protected]

White House drug czar John Walters, who accused Canada of "reefer madness" for moving to decriminalize marijuana possession, has rejected an invitation to appear before MPs to put his grievances on the record.

Several other Americans also turned down invitations to testify at a Commons committee this week as it concludes public hearings on the decriminalization bill.

Mr. Walters, the White House's director of national drug policy, has been vocal in his opposition to Canada's proposed law, saying most recently that Canada is "the one place in the hemisphere where things are going wrong rapidly."

After more than a week of haggling, the committee decided late last week to invite him to appear so he could share the U.S. concerns about the law.

Tom Riley, Mr. Walter's public affairs spokesman, said his boss has been clear about what he thinks of Canada's proposed law so he sees no need to come north once again to repeat his position.

"I think Director Walters has always been very consistent and clear about this," said Mr. Riley. "He's gone up there a number of times, he's been on TV, he's met with Canadian officials here to emphasize that this is a serious concern for the U.S. But obviously Canadians have to decide for themselves what kind of future on the drug issue they want."

Justice Minister Martin Cauchon is aiming for the bill to pass in Parliament before the end of the month, said his spokesman, Mike Murphy.

But it is widely expected Parliament will not return after it recesses at the end of the week for the Liberal leadership convention.

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