Progressive views: Cannabis dissonance

Tristan cropBy Tristan Turner

Recently the newly elected leader of the Federal Liberals, Justin Trudeau, said at a rally in Kelowna that he doesn’t support the decriminalization of marijuana. Instead, he clearly and excitedly stated, “I’m in favour of legalizing it, taxing it and regulating it.” In an interview later he clarified that is indeed his stance on the issue, despite his stance against legalization up to this point.

Well, that’s a curveball.

In response, Conservative Minister Peter MacKay stated, rather predictably, the CPC party line and unpopular opinion against legalization; despite overwhelming evidence supporting that the legalization and regulation of marijuana limits adolescent use, significantly disrupts organized crime and reduces health related risks from consuming the currently illicit substance.

Now, here is where it gets weird. In response, Megan Leslie, Deputy Leader of the Federal NDP, and a woman whom I have met multiple times and have the utmost respect for, stated that Justin Trudeau is merely “pandering” to young voters with this new stance and that he “doesn’t fully understand the consequences” of legalization.

To Megan and the party I hold dearest, I would say stop being so silly.

Instead of standing with the majority of Canadians – as proven in multiple national public opinion polls – in supporting the legalization of marijuana, the New Democrats have positioned themselves in an unusual position that’s not helpful for them or the country.

Now the NDP are saying in the media they support decriminalization, which is a really nebulous policy stance that makes almost nobody happy. Those on the right of the issue, that like the war on drugs as it is – a war – are never going to support their stance of decriminalizing the substance. Yet, those on the left of the issue would rather stand with the Liberals in supporting full legalization, because from an objective perspective, decriminalization makes little logical sense when compared with legalization.

Under decriminalization, people wouldn’t be punished for possessing or consuming cannabis, but organized crime would still be its primary distributor. It would not be federally regulated to ensure that the substance is not laced with far more damaging substances, and the government wouldn’t receive tax revenue from the sale of marijuana.

Decriminalization doesn’t make sense from any perspective, and seems to be an option made from a point of indecision or abstention between two clear choices: legalization or the status quo.

It’s shocking to me as a longtime member and supporter of the NDP that my party would, instead of standing with the majority of Canadians in support of legalization, chose to seemingly abstain from the argument following Mr. Trudeau’s sudden policy change.

In speaking with NDP members and MPs it’s clear to me many of their heart stands with legalization. So why this sudden bout of uncertainty? If New Democrats want to be elected, they need to be decisive and clear about their policy stances. We’re not fooling anyone – we’re New Democrats, not Liberals.

On this issue, the Liberals have maneuvered themselves exactly where they need to be. The majority of the Liberal base either supports legalization or doesn’t care either way. Now, if they want to win the next election, Liberals are better positioned to make converts out of New Democrat voters, rather than Conservatives, who are prone to not voting for any progressive candidates. By standing clearly in support of legalization, they’ve certainly won a few already, and the rest of the NDPs core supporters are left scratching their heads.

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4 Comments

  1. Lets not forget the Trudeau years that have past before, when it comes to government you CAN’T trust them. The only thing that they’re after is the tax dollar. The way I see it it will cost dearly in the end no matter what happens, the people that need it will pay the price and will have to buy off the street. Our government will make it almost impossible to get what they need.
    I don’t use much but the social smoke I enjoy, for me it’s more for the socially then having to use it for medical purpose. But after the drugs I have been on and the side effects that I have had to deal with, as well as getting up in my age this may not be such a bad thing any more. I would not consider any other drug off the street as that is totally wrong, but as for Marijuana I don’t see where it’s so harmful. There are many people that now have a chance to get medical aid with out pills, maybe this is the whole problem. The big drug company’s can’t slowly kill us with there scientific shit or treat us like lab rats as they wish. There are many ways to use natural products to help with illness or even cure them.
    How long will it be before the government will out law lawn grass? In fear that somebody could be cured from it ( just saying). There herbs that can reduce pain in different ways, but Marijuana is proven more effective then most others and works faster too.

  2. The only reason the NDP swept Quebec & became the offivial opposition in the last elections is because of Jack Layton. Since Mulcair, its been strategically about keeping quiet to win in 2015 like its a sure thing.
    At the federal convention we had 11 of 91 resolutions on cannabis with a top 10 but only 1 hour of the convention is dedicated to work, the rest was listening to guest speakers on CPAC, its was just a show, a Mocracy really.
    But Trudeau wont legalize personal production obly those conmercial producers who get luck before april 1st & start profiteering off the sick while jailing growers doing the same thing.

  3. I’ve already turned in my party membership. It happened shortly after that infamous ‘interview’ Mr Mulcair gave on this particular subject. This….’causes mental illness’…. is foolishness, and the last thing we need is another Le Dain commission that will take years. I’ve since donated money to the Liberals, and will continue to support them. This issue is very important to me. I read the policy paper their legalization model will follow, and there is a provision there for personal production…much like beer and wine. If they follow that model…..perfect, because I couldn’t fault it in any way and I didn’t expect that. If the Liberals want to legalize and they make it a policy to do so…then they have my full support, because right now, they happen to be the only party capable of unseating Harper…. WHILE backing the legalization of cannabis. The NDP blew this issue! I happen to know, that people heavily invested in this movement spoke with all leaders, (except Harper for the obvious reasons)….Trudeau was completely receptive and interested in learning all he could…..Mulcair on the other hand, (while polite)…was as cool and uncomfortable with the subject, as a cucumber! That told me all I need to know.

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