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      New Blows Against Drug War

      Marijuana in Seattle soon after the law change, December 2012. (Photo: Cliff DesPeaux / Reuters)In a policy turning point, the Obama administration is ending its pre-emptive marijuana prohibition policy towards states like Colorado and Washington states where legalization measures have been approved by voters. The decision is a victory for those opposing the multi-billion dollar militarized War on Drugs.

      Ironically, while the administration considers a massive military "surge" on the Mexican border to block drug smugglers, Canada is moving towards the legalization of pot over the northern border. Justin Trudeau, the Liberal candidate for prime minister in next year's election, is surging in the polls after revealing last week that he smoked pot while a member of parliament. Trudeau, a liberal centrist who calls for marijuana legalization, has nudged right-wing Prime Minister Stephen Harper to "very carefully" consider reducing pot use to a citation without criminal charges. The Canadian dynamic will likely push US drug policies towards greater liberalization in states along the northern border, adding to the tipping effect from Colorado and Washington. 

      The unfolding contrast between the two borders, one massively militarized with the other becoming a "gateway" to recreational marijuana enjoyment, may draw greater attention to the racial character of US drug war policies as Canada liberalizes.

      Canada's drug war heavily impacts First Nations. In 2012, the authorities made 250 arrests per 100,000 for marijuana possession in Nunavut, and 187.5 per 100,000 in Northwest Territories. By comparison, the charges in British Columbia were 15.8/100,000 and in Ontario 27.23/100,000.

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