Marijuana possession will remain a crime in Canada, the country’s new conservative prime minister said Monday in announcing the demise of legislation U.S. authorities worried would weaken efforts to curb drug exports.
Under the bill, drawn up by the previous Liberal Party government, getting caught with about half an ounce or less of marijuana would have brought a citation akin to a traffic ticket.
While possession of marijuana would have remained illegal, the bill was intended to prevent young people from being saddled with a lifelong criminal record.
Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper, speaking to the Canadian Professional Police Association, said the bill would not be reintroduced when the new Parliament convenes for the first time Monday.
The bill, which had alarmed law enforcement officials in Canada and the United States, died on the floor of the House of Commons after the Liberal Party lost elections in January.
Canada has numerous marijuana farms, particularly in the lush western province of British Columbia. Authorities in July said they discovered a 360-foot drug-smuggling tunnel beneath the U.S.-Canadian border in the U.S. border town of Lynden about 90 miles north of Seattle.
Canadian under U.S. indictment
Canadian marijuana activist Marc Emery of Vancouver, known as “the prince of pot,” is under U.S. indictment targeting his multimillion-dollar marijuana seed business. He claims to make $3 million a year from selling marijuana seeds online and by mail, mostly to buyers south of the border.
Harper, who was to later address the first Conservative-led Parliament in 13 years, told the police association that fighting crime was one of his top five priorities.
“We are going to hold criminals to account,” said Harper. “This government will send a strong message to criminals: If you do a serious crime, you’re going to start doing serious time.”
He also vowed to keep his campaign pledge to demand tougher sentences for gun and drug offenses.
He won prolonged applause for his campaign promises to crack down on parole and do away with mandatory supervision, the practice of releasing most convicts after two-thirds of their sentences.
Harper also promised to get tough on child pornography and improve the national databank of DNA samples of convicted criminals.