For years, the New Democratic Party (NDP) has been touting the wise decision to legalize or decriminalize marijuana. An idea the Conservatives hadn’t been ready to acknowledge for many years. To bring up such an idea in the House of Commons was to invite severe career-threatening criticism from one’s peers and constituents.
So now that we finally have a Prime Minister and a party (the Liberals) willing to do this very thing, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair thinks that before the legalization and regulation of marijuana happens, he should at least decriminalize it immediately. “Mr. Trudeau himself, while he was an MP, smoked marijuana, he talked about that. So, why is it fair for him to have nothing and for a young person who does the exact same thing to wind up with a criminal record that’s going to follow them for the rest of their lives?” said Mulcair during a session at the House.
The Liberals and others who disagree with this point of view have repeatedly responded by saying that decriminalizing weed, before a regulatory framework is in place, will help establish black market paradise. Critics of immediate decriminalization see the black market thriving from the flood of Canadians who will want to access pot before the passage of regulated legislation.
The NDP’s enthusiasm is a welcome sight, as cannabis lovers rejoice watching the walls of prohibition finally crumble. At the end of the day, however, some are seeing Trudeau’s argument as logical given the fact that right now the black market sells 100% of recreational marijuana in Canada. Critics argue that if the penalties are removed, more Canadians will access the black market due to increased curiosity and a lack of legal consequences. Or as Trudeau said at the time, “We believe in the legalization and regulation of marijuana because it protects our kids and keeps money out of the pockets of criminal organizations and street gangs. The fact of the matter is that decriminalization, as the member proposes, actually gives a legal stream of income to criminal organizations. That is not what anyone wants in this country.”
All this politicking and bickering aside, Trudeau and the Liberals are the majority, so they hold the talking stick. Mulcair can and will continue to be the “backseat driver” on the path to legalization. In the end, the parties are both going in the same direction, which is for Canadians to gain access to legal pot. The NDP can tell the Liberals what to do, but Trudeau has the wheel, and he has made it clear he doesn’t need a GPS.
Photo Courtesy of Bruce Stanfield