After Conservative leader Andrew Scheer made headlines last week for seeming to be open to reversing cannabis legalization if his party won the election in 2019, he finally cleared the air this morning on a Quebec radio show, saying:
“We recognize the reality now, so I do not intend to go back and make marijuana illegal again. But we will see what happens within the year and make the necessary corrections.”
That’s a huge contrast to the non-answer he gave CTV on Oct. 18, the day after legalization:
“The Conservative Party will do our due diligence, examine the consequences of this decision, and we’ll examine the reality on the ground.
We have to be realistic about what a change like this means for society and all the ramifications.”
So much for the “wait and see” approach, eh? At least now we have a real and concrete answer- cannabis legalization is here to stay, and that might be because the Conservatives realized that promising to make cannabis illegal again would be political suicide.
While practically all Conservative politicians opposed Bill C-45 (the sole exception being Ontario MP Scott Reid), there’s a huge difference between being against the Cannabis Act as it went through the legislative process and actively trying to repeal it now that it’s in effect.
Ralph Goodale, Canada’s Public Safety Minister, warned against reversing legalization, telling CTV:
“Does [Scheer] want to recriminalize Canadians? I think he would face a very substantial backlash.”
What do the polls say?
According to the Financial Post, a poll recently conducted by Forum Research found that 52% of Canadians approved of legalization while 41% disapproved, but that doesn’t account for generational differences.
That same poll found 74% of respondents below the age of 34 approved of legalization so campaigning on recriminalizing cannabis ran the serious risk of alienating the youth vote for years to come.
Reversing legalization was not a good idea
Recriminalizing cannabis would have undone all of the work done on the social justice front where the government has streamlined the pardon process for those convicted of cannabis possession crimes.
Not to mention what would happen to the millions of Canadians that tried cannabis for the first time on Oct.17 (I’m being facetious).
Scheer himself seemed to recognize the uphill battle of reversing legalization more than a year ago when he told Global back in April 2017:
“If this is something that has been legal for a period of time, it’s going to be very difficult to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to make this illegal again.’”
Given that the federal election is scheduled for Oct. 21, 2019, that’s basically one year for Canadians to get used to legalized cannabis- what Rielle Capler, a PhD cannabis policy research at UBC, calls “a multi-billion dollar industry that is going to be in full force and employing thousands of Canadians”.
If legalization was rolled back, all those jobs would disappear and the black market would bounce back stronger than ever- and the Conservatives are supposed to be the ones who are “tough on crime”!
I guess the Conservatives finally realized that recriminalizing cannabis would be shooting themselves in the foot and was more likely to lose them support in the long run.
In addition, rolling back legalization would have made Mr. Scheer a massive hypocrite because…
Mr. Scheer has admitted to smoking cannabis when he was younger
According to a report by the Globe and Mail, when asked if he’d ever smoked cannabis on French talkshow Tout Le Monde En Parle in May, Scheer replied:
“I hope my father is not watching this show. … When I was young, yes.”
But apparently, these were just youthful transgressions that occurred when Scheer was partying as a university student, according to Jake Enwright, Mr. Scheer’s director of media relations.
While Scheer’s cannabis smoking happened more than once, Mr. Enwright said, “It’s hard to put an exact number on it”, while going on to say that Mr. Scheer never bought it himself- but is that better or does it just make him a freeloader and/or opportunist who’s susceptible to peer pressure?
That’s certainly not a good look for someone who wants to lead the country.
Featured image courtesy of CBC.
Global News: Can the Conservatives reverse cannabis legalization?