Is now the time to talk marijuana decriminalization?
Published Friday, August 14, 2015 5:50PM EDT
There’s something about marijuana which makes Stephen Harper paranoid.
Not that the Conservative leader is showing the side-effects from smoking it. This is, after all, the prime minister that fun forgot.
But it’s like he’s stuck in the Reefer Madness movie, that loopy 1930s cult film which portrayed marijuana as leading to criminal depravity and insanity.
Harper announced this week that, if re-elected, he would continue with zero tolerance for cannabis possession. It would remain a crime, giving those convicted a criminal record for life.
Coming on a week when a new study found a Canadian dies every three days from overdosing on the narcotic fentanyl, it suggests he’s focused on the wrong drugs.
There are now 17 million Americans living in four states where cannabis is as retail legal as beer. Possession is not an offence in another dozen states.
On this side of the border, Canada’s police chiefs are on side with decriminalization. Harper’s own justice minister was in favour of making it a ticketing offense until Peter MacKay retired.
Meanwhile, medicinal pot dispensaries are flourishing faster than Starbucks in some cities.
And every April 20, as clouds of marijuana smoke waft by the Prime Minister’s Parliament Hill window, police merely fold their arms and watch thousands of toking protesters from the sidelines.
But rather accept changing times and public attitudes, the Conservatives are sticking with a bad law supported by their belief that their government knows best.
Meanwhile, Harper and his War Room continue to demonize the relaxed pot positions of their rivals with preposterous exaggerations and selective statistics.
Out in the real world, police are wasting time in unproductive paperwork to support cannabis possession charges, taking time away from serious drug crime investigations.
In many cases, they just don’t bother enforcing the law at all.
This campaign is the time to talk marijuana decriminalization with an eye to a future when we’d join the global move to embracing legalization and retail taxation.
Unfortunately, when they’re campaigning on drugs, the Harper government displays warped perspective, irrational stubbornness and poor judgment.
Some might call those the symptoms of reefer madness.