The Austin Chronicle

Naked City

The Maple Leaf Forever

By Jordan Smith, September 10, 2004, News

In recent weeks, federal drug warrior John Walters has turned his attention to the latest and apparently, in his esteemed opinion, greatest threat: Canadian marijuana. Walters, head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy – the "drug czar" – in recent months has bemoaned the increase in availability of the allegedly superpotent Canadian bud. Canada has less strict marijuana laws than the U.S., and our northern neighbors have allegedly been cultivating strains that contain about 7% THC, more than triple the amount commonly found in U.S. pot in the Seventies.

This combination of lax laws and pot potency equals a national scourge for Walters, who told Time that he blames a potent strain of the dope cultivated in British Columbia – the nefarious "BC Bud" – for a rise in marijuana-related emergency room visits in the late Nineties. "Canada is exporting to us the crack of marijuana," he said.

Unfortunately for Walters, the U.S. Department of Justice doesn't agree with his dire dope assessments. According to the annual National Drug Threat Assessment report, released in April by the National Drug Intelligence Center, California and Mexico produce most of the pot smoked in the U.S., and growers in Hawaii are credited as the "leading source of high-potency marijuana." Further, contrary to Walters' claims, the increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits has "not been significant."

At press time, the fight over the latest Nevada marijuana-legalization ballot initiative was raging on, as supporters waited on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to give a final nod on its fate. On Sept. 2, Silver State election officials announced that initiative supporters had gathered about 2,000 fewer signatures than the number required to secure the measure a place on the November ballot.

However, that determination – made after a district judge sided with initiative organizers and ordered a signature recount – is potentially moot if the 9th Circuit rules in favor of the Marijuana Policy Project on an action pending before the court. At issue is the Nevada secretary of state's decision to rule invalid the petition signatures of people who signed up in support of the measure on the same day they registered to vote. The Silver State's last citizen initiative to decriminalize marijuana was vociferously opposed by Walters, whose campaign activities there led to previous legal actions alleging the drug czar violated the federal Hatch Act, which restricts the political activities of government employees.

Copyright © 2023 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.