Let’s get the Green Party jokes out of the way up front…shouldn’t it have been them? Green’s for Green? And so on and so forth. Alright, on to the story. For those that don’t follow politics, 1200+ delgates of the Liberal Party had a nice get together over the weekend to discuss a few things, and look at a couple of party platforms. Essentially, “these are some things we believe as a party.” 67% of the gathering said they were opposed to cutting ties to the Monarchy, so the Queen’s staying on the money. But the big headline coming out was about marijuana: 77% voted in favour of legalization.
None of this is binding; the person who ends up running the party gets the ultimate power when it comes to the party’s ideas for the next election in 2015. But the fact that more than three quarters of the people there said “this is a good idea” shows that something that’s been relegated to 420 protests and various sit-ins now has the potential to be brought to the front burner over the next three years.
This isn’t new ground for the Liberal party: Jean Chretien’s party floated the idea of decriminalization before taking a step back in 2003. But it definitely goes through a lot of specifics, most importantly, that “a new Liberal government will legalize marijuana and ensure the regulation and taxation of its production, distribution, and use, while enacting strict penalties for illegal trafficking, illegal importation and exportation, and impaired driving.” The idea goes on to say they will promote prevention and education and will even grant amnesty to those previously convicted of simple possession and eliminate criminal records connected to those convictions. (Click the picture for full details on the proposal.)
The strong push from this came from the Liberal youth wing run by President Samuel Lavoie, who said the idea behind the proposal is to “expand the debate.” He also defended possible criticism from the PCs that may say the move is soft on crime, saying “…if the Conservatives are going to call us soft on crime, perhaps we should call their policies dumb on crime.” If you look at the big picture, only the Conservatives were strongly for keeping it illegal in the least election. Of course the idea is getting support from pro-pot organizations, who are throwing out numbers that show the costs of enforcing the current laws, and the amount of revenue that could be generated by a legal controlled substance.
On the other side, there are the anti-drug groups who raise the “gateway drug” argument and the hazards of allowing mass consumption with safety and health as the main concerns. The police chief in Fredericton says that pot “…is not a benign drug by any stretch of the imagination. It has harmful impacts and we’re focused on building safe, strong healthy communities.”
This debate has been going for a long time…it’s not healthy, it IS healthy, it’s bad for the economy, it’s GOOD for the economy, it’s too hard to control, it’d make grow-ops redundant…but the more important part of this news is that right now, and again in the near future, it is probably going to be news. The Liberals only hold 35 of the 308 seats in the House right now (there will be 338 seats in the elction in 2015), but it will be interesting to see what happens in the coming years. Will it become a major part of their platform? It it a tactic to bring in the youth vote? Will their stance cause the NDP and Conservatives to react with their own ideas and concepts on legalization? How would it affect relations with the US? These questions and ideas could be thrown by the wayside before anything really gets discussed, but the fact that is was brought up, and supported by such a vast majority within the party, shows that it may be time to take a look at the issue in the mainstream again, and not just in the specific camps that are concerned.
Speaking personally, I think the majority of us can say we know someone who’s used it, whether frequent or infrequent, and we’ve probably had experience ourselves…whether consistent, experimental or just being “in the area” while people around us have induldged. Statistics show that nearly 33% of Canadians over the age of 15 have tried it. It’s out there, it’s available, it’s being used. And in my opinion, something that doesn’t cause harm to anyone else and isn’t illegal is essentially none of my business. You want to? Go ahead. So long as it doesn’t affect myself or anyone else negatively, knock yourself out. You can make the argument that alcohol does the same thing…it’s mood altering, too much is bad, you can be addicted, it’s regulated, you can even go to places to make your own if you’d like. It WAS illegal for a period of time, but it’s now become part of our society’s fabric. Could the same thing happen to marijuana?
Everyone has an opinion, and though majority rules, underground ideas become mainstream beliefs if enough people get on the wagon. The Liberal party is thinking about leading the way. Do you stand in front of them, or do you want a ride?