Rebel With a Cause: The One Conservative Who Voted for Legal Pot

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The legalization of marijuana in Canada has brought about many questions throughout the process. What will the final age limit be? Where will marijuana be sold? And will there be restrictions on advertising for pot companies?

The only aspect of this enigmatic experience that we have been able to predict is where the political party lines have been drawn on the issue.

The Liberals, of course, want to pass their bill and make marijuana legal for all adults. The New Democrats (NDP) want to do the same, but also eliminate arrests and convictions for possession immediately. The Conservative Party has been historically predictable, not wanting to legalize at all.

That goes for all Conservatives except one.

During the second reading of Bill C-45, Conservative MP Scott Reid was the only outlier among the group, voting in favour of legalization. This change is a refreshing outlook amongst a sea of unsurprising dissension from Reid’s party on the issue.

“We have a policy as a party that possession of marijuana should be a ticket offense,” said Reid in an interview with Marijuana.com. “There’s what the party supports, and there are my own views, which are two separate things.”

Reid goes on to explain that he has been of the mind for quite some time that marijuana should be legal for adults. “I’ve been an advocate of marijuana legalization since before the beginning of my political career. My own view is based on being a libertarian and believing that we should not have victimless crimes. Also, having a safe supply and ending the existence of revenue sources for organized crime is a good thing.”

Regardless of Reid’s difference in opinion with his party, he has never received any pressure from them to change his mind and join their ranks on the issue. “This is not new for me, I published a paper in 2001. Within a year of my first election, it was widely known that I was an advocate of marijuana legalization. Not decriminalization but of full legalization. People have respectfully disagreed, but [other than that] it has never been a problem.”

Now that the bill has passed the second reading with the help of Reid, he will be developing a questionnaire for his constituents to ask how they feel he should vote in what will be the third and final reading of the bill. “In the third reading, you have the bill in its final form. That is the appropriate point at which to say to your constituents, is it what you want, is it good enough?”

Even before posing the question to the citizens Reid represents, he is already unsatisfied with some points of the bill. “Right now the contemplative legislation proposes the age of 18 as the age at which it will be legal to consume cannabis. Others have proposed a higher age, including myself. I’ve proposed 21 as being preferable.” Reid added that he also feels that liquor and cannabis should not be sold together, which was an option that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne supported. “They are not products that should be sold [together]for public health reasons.”

Despite the challenges Reid has with the bill, the Conservative Member voted for C-45 because he believes in the bigger picture. Seemingly, the most challenging part for Reid was not voting for what he believed in, but being applauded by the Liberals when doing so. “Having voted against my party on a number of occasions, I never enjoy [applause from the opposition],” he said. “I’ve talked to people from multiple parties who have voted against party lines and it is always an uncomfortable feeling when it happens, just because of the partisan nature of the House.”

As the Trudeau government steamrolls forward with its plan to change the history of prohibition, it’s clear that the issue of pot legalization creates strange bedfellows. But amongst the exciting and chaotic times we Canadian pot lovers live in, one thing is clear. Marijuana is going to be legal in Canada thanks to the powers that be and people like MP Scott Reid, who stood up in a sea of Conservatives and voted against their collective mindset.

Well done Scott Reid, well done.

Cover Image Courtesy of CBC

About Author

Jonathan Hiltz has been a journalist, a TV producer and marijuana advocate for over sixteen years. He has a wife, two young children and lives in the Toronto area.

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