The 2019 Canadian federal election is looming, and with each passing day, it seems that the polls are looking tighter and more volatile. With many Canadians still undecided on who to vote for in the Canadian federal election, and with so much noise and unclear messaging, it can be difficult to pin down the political party that best aligns with our individual concerns and beliefs. 

But when it comes to cannabis, clarity is possible. 

These are the cannabis platforms – or lack thereof – for all of our major federal political parties

1. People’s Party of Canada

It’s safe to say that the PPC has been controversial, and with MP Maxime Bernier at the helm, the controversy has not quelled. 

When it comes to weed, though, Bernier has been vocal about insisting that he will not reverse Bill C-45, which legalized cannabis on a federal level. 

He is also one of the only major political party leaders to publicly admit to cannabis consumption and has been somewhat open about his indulgences. 

He has also publicly touted his friendship with the so-called “Prince of Pot” Marc Emery, who is no stranger to controversy himself. Earlier this year, Emery suffered a “Me Too” moment that damaged his reputation and largely ostracized him from the cannabis community that he has advocated in consolidation with for so many years. Whether Berniers’ association with Emery is a positive or a negative in your book is ultimately a matter of personal opinion. 

But not everyone in the Peoples’ Party is so pro-pot

Red Deer-Lacombe PPC candidate Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson recently said that her party takes no official position on legal weed. However, she put herself on record as opposing recreational access to cannabis and went too far as to say that she does not support drug harm reduction efforts, equating them to “enabling” addicts. 

All in all, it seems like the PPC approach to cannabis is consistent with its overall political reputation of being controversy-laden and oddly disjointed.  

2. New Democratic Party

Although they have no formal federal election platform on the issue, the NDP is decidedly cannabis-friendly. 

The party has officially stated that they will not reverse Bill C-45 and party leader Jagmeet Singh has gone on record to strongly endorse legal recreational weed. Aside from that, though, they have been relatively tight-lipped on this issue. 

But the NDP approach to cannabis may be better discerned through action than words in any event. 

Former Victoria NDP MP Murray Rankin tabled a bill during his tenure in office which sought to expunge historical, non-violent cannabis offenses rather than pardon them. This bill was ultimately rejected by the Liberals

In May, Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie MP and NDP Deputy Leader Alexandre Boulerice called on the Liberals to remove the tax on medical cannabis. The party tabled Motion M-198, which sought to recognize that healthcare is a fundamental human right and asked for medical cannabis to be considered a medication like all others. It also sought to dedicate more capital to research on medical cannabis.

For this part, Singh has recently been critical of the Liberals in their approach to the legalization of edibles, concentrates, and topicals. He has said that he feels that the delay around legalizing these products has been unnecessary and that all cannabis products should have been legalized together. 

All in all, the NDP appears to be a party that will make power moves when it comes to the future of legal cannabis rather than being all talk and no green. 

3) Liberal Party of Canada 

Whether we like them or not, we cannot forget that legal, recreational cannabis was brought to us by the Liberals

Although they have been subject to a great deal of criticism for the steps that they have taken so far, the Liberals did come through on their post-election promise, and that is something that we cannot overlook so quickly. 

But in spite of having legalized it, the Liberals continue to emphasize their middle-of-the-road message when it comes to the plant. They push a strong message about keeping cannabis out of the hands of young people. They regularly cast cannabis conversations in terms of balancing access with public safety and concerns around health

And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

It’s actually the exact thing that we can and should expect of the governing federal party who had made a major move in the right direction…even if it was a tad misguiding in some aspects. 

The silver lining here is that the Liberals do not appear to be completely ignorant of their cannabis shortcomings to date. They acknowledge that there is still a lot of working to be done. 

They will be introducing long-awaiting regulations to open the legal market for edibles, topicals and concentrates by October 17, 2019. While these regulations have been harshly criticized, they were developed in light of the feedback obtained from a 60-day public consultation period. 

At the end of the day though, another four years with the Liberals will likely result in more of the same old strain. 

4) Green Party 

Decidedly unironic, the Greens have the most progressive approach when it comes to the future of cannabis

Party leader Elizabeth May has presented a comprehensive platform in relation to this issue and has publicly announced her intention to undo many of the cannabis blunders that have been done so far. 

For one, May wishes to lower the price of legal cannabis in order to make it competitive with illegal supplies and effectively weed out the black market. She points to the fact that according to 2019 figures from Stats Can, 38% of Canadians are still buying their weed from illegal sources

She also wishes to remove the sales tax on all medicinal cannabis products and to eliminate the requirements for excess, wasteful plastic packaging. 

Finally, the Greens feel that outdoor production should forge ahead in the future, rather than force cannabis to be growing in problematic, wasteful and dangerous underground bunkers. On top of that, they wish to impose organic production standards for all licensed producers and to ensure that your cannabis is safe, healthy and environmentally sustainable. 

All in all, it seems that the Green Party is the party most dedicated to improving cannabis and advancing the cannabis industry well into the future, while also advancing their green policies. 

5) Conservative Party of Canada 

Unsurprisingly, the Conservatives may have the least cannabis-friendly approach out of any of the federal parties. 

Last year, Conservative party leader Andrew Sheer made a number of public statements about his intention to re-criminalize cannabis if he have been electing to office. This raised more than a few eyebrows amongst many members of the general public, who have come to terms with the reality of legal weed and feel that this would be an unnecessary and wasteful step backward. 

At this stage, however, Scheer has walked back from those comments. More recently, he has said that his party would not do anything to roll back legalization should they gain control. 

But sometimes what is being not said is more important than what is. 

The Conservatives may impose harsher penalties for individuals and corporations charged under the Cannabis Act. They may also pass more restrictive advertising and packaging requirements. Again, though, this is mostly speculation based on past voting history and public commentary. 

For now, the Conservatives are tending to play nice with cannabis. They recently voted in large favor of the expedited pardon process passed by the Liberals. 

The question is whether you believe what the party says now, or what they have said in the past. 

Either way, the Conservative’s stance on legal cannabis is hazy at best and downright antagonistic at worst.

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