#293 TIME Scare Story On B.C. Bud Ignores Facts

Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2004
Subject: #293 TIME Scare Story On B.C. Bud Ignores Facts


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DrugSense FOCUS Alert #293 Tue, Aug. 17 2004

The U.S. press continues to publish stories about marijuana based on
two easily disprovable myths. The first myth is about super potent
marijuana, and how it’s totally different from the lightweight stuff
smoked by those hippies back in the sixties. The second myth involves
allegedly lax Canadian laws, particularly in British Columbia, and how
they are allowing the helpless U.S. to be flooded by superweed (or
“the crack of marijuana,” as drug czar John Walters likes to call it).

This week, Time Magazine picks up on both of the myths in one
blatantly biased article. The article subtly acknowledges facts that
undermine its own main premise. The author tells us that only 5
percent of marijuana in the U.S. comes from Canada, yet “experts”
repeatedly suggest that the U.S. is being overwhelmed with B.C. Bud.
The author discusses variations between batches of marijuana, but
implies that Canadian pot is somehow different and more scary than the
domestic crop.

The truth is that the U.S. is furious over Canada’s halting attempts
at drug policy reform, including a bill to decriminalize marijuana.
Even though the bill isn’t that great, the U.S. still can’t accept any
moves away from zero tolerance. They don’t know how to respond other
than by hyping discredited propaganda.

Please write a letter to Time asking why the magazine reported a
non-story with little basis in fact, and offer a few facts of your

For more information on the myths, see:

Drug War Facts on marijuana potency – http://www.drugwardistortions.org/distortion11.htm
Dan Forbes on marijuana potency claims – http://slate.msn.com/?id74151
Richard Cowan on BC Bud Myth – http://www.marijuananews.com/news.php3?sid=732


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Source: Time Magazine
Contact: letters@time.com

PLEASE NOTE: Time Magazine only prints very short letters, usually
less than 100 words. Try to be as concise as possible.


Pubdate: Mon, 23 Aug 2004
Source: Time Magazine (US)
Copyright: 2004 Time Inc
Contact: letters@time.com
Website: http://www.time.com/time/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/451
Author: Anita Hamilton
Note: Reported by Ben Bergman/Blaine, Laura Blue/New York, Chris
Photo: (from the magazine by the Barrie Police Service) CASH CROP: Inside a
former brewery in Ontario, police found this pot
farm http://www.mapinc.org/images/bcbud420.jpg
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/mjcn.htm (Cannabis – Canada)
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/topics/BC+Bud
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/find?420 (Cannabis – Popular)
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/walters.htm (Walters, John)


Canada’s Relaxed Drug Laws May Be Fueling A Boom In Marijuana Exports To

It was the bus driver who noticed something suspicious. According to
school officials, a driver for Blaine High School in northwestern
Washington State thought something was strange about students’
carrying unusually full bags to school and then never taking them back
home. He alerted U.S. authorities, who boarded the bus on the morning
of Feb. 20 and allegedly found 8 lbs. of marijuana, valued at $25,000,
hidden inside a teenage girl’s backpack. Prosecutors allege that the
minor, 16, was getting paid $300 a trip to work as a drug mule for
smugglers moving marijuana into the U.S. from Canada. The teen’s home,
in Point Roberts, Wash., borders British Columbia in an area with
relatively light border patrol, which would have made it easy for her
to get the drugs from Canada before getting on the bus.

Expelled from school and charged with possessing marijuana with intent
to deliver, the girl has a hearing scheduled for Aug. 23 in
Bellingham, Wash. Deputy prosecutor Thomas Verge has said he will
probably ask for an exceptionally long sentence that would put the
teen behind bars until her 21st birthday.

The controversy has upset the community. “She was a wonderful young
girl,” says her principal, Dan Newell. “I wouldn’t have ever thought
that if anyone was going to haul marijuana across the border, it would
be this lady.”

Nor would anyone have thought that the cross-border traffic of illegal
drugs would become one of the knottiest areas of disagreement between
the U.S. and its northern neighbor.

An estimated 880 to 2,200 tons of marijuana are grown in Canada,
according to a new report from Canadian police.

About 90% of the commercial crop winds up in the U.S., where its
street value ranges from $5 billion to $25 billion.

Although only 5% of pot in the U.S. comes from Canada, the trade is
flourishing because of high demand in the U.S. and the comparatively
mild punishments in Canada for growers and traffickers.

The U.S. seized more than 48,000 lbs. of marijuana along the Canadian
border last year, nearly double the 26,000 lbs. it retrieved in 2002,
according to a U.S. State Department report.

There have been seizures all along the border, in Montana, North
Dakota, Michigan, Ohio and other states.

Canadian pot has cachet in the U.S. because of its reputation for
being especially potent. The featured brand is BC Bud – which is grown
in British Columbia and has become synonymous with the high-grade
marijuana grown throughout Canada. Once in the U.S., the pot is
exchanged for cash, and sometimes cocaine or guns, which are then
smuggled back to Canada.

Although the actual potency of BC Bud varies from batch to batch,
depending on how it’s grown, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
says that as much as 25% of BC Bud is made of the psychoactive drug
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In contrast, the pot that the hippie
generation smoked in the 1970s had only 2% THC content, and most pot
consumed in the U.S. today averages about 7% THC.

White House drug czar John Walters blames BC Bud in part for the
increased number of pot-related emergency room incidents, which have
more than doubled, from 54,000 in 1996 to 119,000 in 2002. Those
incidents range from accidents and injuries to unexpected reactions to
the drug. “Canada is exporting to us the crack of marijuana,” Walters
told reporters in April. Others dispute Walters’ claims. “Domestic
American marijuana is probably a little bit better,” says Richard
Stratton, editor in chief of High Times, a magazine that covers
marijuana issues.

But the BC Bud name is so well regarded that some dealers pass off
other varieties as Canadian to fetch the $3,000-to-$10,000-per-lb.

And BC Bud seems to be everywhere. “It’s hella easy to get,” says
“Angelo,” 22, a Seattle resident who asked to be identified by a
pseudonym. “You can usually go to [a convenience store] between 1:30
a.m. and 3:30 a.m. and ask people who you think smoke bud,” he says.

On the Canadian side, the drug is even more ubiquitous. At the popular
New Amsterdam Cafe in downtown Vancouver, customers openly smoke
marijuana. “People come with pot. We are a business, though, so we
have a $2 minimum cafe charge [for snacks and drinks],” says cafe
manager Scott Heardy. Inspector David Nelmes, who is in charge of
drugs for the Vancouver police department, tells TIME, “I can’t
remember the last time a member of the Vancouver police department
arrested someone for smoking a joint. Frankly, who’s got time?” If
passed within the year, as seems likely, new Canadian legislation
would decriminalize possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana,
meaning that offenders would be slapped with only the equivalent of a
traffic ticket.

That approach is a far cry from the one that is taken in U.S. states
like Oklahoma, where a person caught smoking dope could get up to a
year in prison, although probation is more common.

Canada’s attitude toward small-scale toking up has led some U.S.
officials to blame the northerners for the influx of BC Bud in
America. “If the perception is that it will be easier to get marijuana
in Canada … then it creates problems at the border,” Paul Cellucci,
U.S. ambassador to Canada, said at a Toronto Board of Trade dinner in
February. Indeed, the trade has led to an increase in drive-by
shootings in Canada by rival dealers, and to “grow-rips,” in which
competing clans break into growers’ houses to steal their crops,
according to Canadian police.

The body of the suspected ringleader of a trafficking group was found
stabbed in the neck in a ditch in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in November
2002. “It’s still a dangerous drug,” says James Capra, the DEA’s chief
of domestic operations. “People are killing each other over it.”

Currently, a grower in Canada who has been convicted can expect less
than two years of house arrest and a trafficker anywhere from three
months to five years, served either at home or in prison, compared
with the minimum punishment of five to 10 years that most convicted
traffickers and growers receive in U.S. federal court.

But as the violence has increased and cultivation of the crop has
moved into residential areas, Canada has begun cracking down on its
estimated 50,000 commercial pot growers.

Over the past four years, police in Vancouver have seized $288 million
worth of marijuana and $8.7 million worth of growing equipment.

In Barrie, Ont., in January, police confiscated 30,000 marijuana
plants, worth $23 million, inside a former Molson brewery.

One hot, muggy morning in July, a TIME reporter accompanied the
Vancouver police as an officer thumped on the door of a two-story
brick-and-panel house on a leafy street of manicured lawns.

Inside, officers discovered a basement filled wall to wall with more
than 300 glossy female cannabis bushes. That bust is pretty routine,
but the BC Bud keeps flowing.

In the past four years, Vancouver police have made more than 1,500
others, or about one a day.


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Prepared by: Stephen Young, Focus Alert Specialist