North American pot people on both sides of the US-Canadian border are likely to be affected by new proposals set forth recently by President G.W. Bush.
Several major programs and policy proposals, including Bush’s just-released “Homeland Security” plans, indicate that the US government intends to monitor its borders and its citizens more than ever before.
The Homeland Security plan augments other Justice Department and administration proposals that would combine the US Customs Service, Border Patrol, Transportation Security Agency, Coast Guard, DEA, and other military-police agencies into one “super-agency” under the direction of a “Homeland Security Czar.”
White House documents, and speeches by Bush and other administration officials such as Attorney General John Ashcroft indicate that interdicting Canadian marijuana and marijuana smugglers, rather than just stopping terrorists, is an important goal of the new security arrangements.
DEA chief Asa Hutchinson, along with US trade representatives, consular officials, and other high-ranking Bush emissaries, have been working behind the scenes to defuse Canadian officials’ increasing support for general marijuana law reform.
The Americans contend that as much as 60% of the marijuana grown in Canada is produced solely for export to the United States, and that Canadian attempts to liberalize Canada’s marijuana laws will violate international narcotics treaties as well as cause an increase in drug use in the US and Canada.
The US is already implementing plans to beef up security along its 5525 mile border with Canada.
The beefing up process includes adding hundreds of new border agents, seeding the Canadian-US border with high tech surveillance and detection devices, using ground and space-based technology to monitor the border, commercial goods, traffic, Canadian grow sites, and communications, and conducting very extensive database-assisted searches and background checks on young Canadians seeking to enter the US.
In addition, US Coast Guard personnel, along with military and police aerial units, will more intensely monitor key air and marine smuggling routes, which have been compromised by media coverage of “kayak smuggling” and other pot-moving operations found especially on Canada’s West Coast.
Inside the US, Americans can expect implementation of a draconian police state that includes unprecedented levels of official and unofficial surveillance.
Already in the works are Bush’s Citizen Corps “Volunteers in Police Service” (VIPS) and “Terrorist Information and Prevention System” (TIPS) programs.
The VIPS program seeks to recruit citizen volunteers who will become “police assistants” assigned to various law enforcement duties, some of which, according to VIPS spokespersons, might lead to a volunteer “being harmed or killed.”
VIPS volunteers will allegedly be most often assigned to clerical or administrative tasks, but VIPS officials acknowledge that some volunteers might end up carrying guns and badges, and that the government will reimburse them for the costs of their VIPS volunteerism.
The TIPS program is even more controversial, and is slated to begin in mid-August, 2002.
According to White House documents, millions of civilians in several “target industries,” such as postal employees, UPS and Fed-Ex delivery personnel, cable installers, home maintenance specialists, lawn and garden workers, and utility company meter readers, would be obligated to report “suspicious activity” to a centralized federal government agency. Such reports would be turned over to the Homeland Security super-agency.
Critics of the program, such as American Civil Liberties Union Legislative Counsel Rachel King, say that TIPS will give workers the impression that they must use their access into people’s homes and private lives to conduct warrantless searches that even police themselves could not conduct unless they had a search warrant.
“The Administration apparently wants to implement a program that will turn local cable or gas or electrical technicians into government-sanctioned peeping toms,” King said, adding that the program is likely to generate tens of thousands of useless “tips” while also allowing people to use the TIPS program to harm their enemies, harass innocent people, and to promote racism and other forms of societal persecution.
Bush officials deflected such criticism, implying that people who oppose domestic spying operations that will rely on the hoped-for recruitment of millions of “police assistants” and volunteer spy-tipsters, are “soft on terrorism.”