As the dollar drops and the rhetoric rises, the 42nd federal election prepares to move into its fourth week, and medical cannabis in Canada continues to be a part of the discussion. Here at Cannabis in Canada, we’ve addressed where each party stands on our plant. But what’s important to establish is that this conversation doesn’t just affect those suffering and in need of accessible, safe, effective, and affordable natural medicine, but that the policies put in place by the next government will create a template for either the expansion, or prohibition, of liberty in this country.
We’ve moved past whether or not cannabis will be available to patients. That is either happening or inevitable, and subject to conversations about scale and success. But, as party leaders and candidates pushed their campaigns into full swing, the matter of what the next federal government will do with medical cannabis policy becomes the focal point of the discourse.
This government has set the progress of the plant back a generation through incompetence, ignorance, and the perpetuation of prohibition while installing a system which Caleb McMillan so accurately describes as “crony-capitalist cartels”. From Harper’s wilful lies, to Health Minister Rona Ambrose’s ineffective stewardship of the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), to Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole’s criminal ignorance, the Harper government aggressive and adversarial relationship towards cannabis robs the electorate of their constitutional rights and further restricts their liberty.
But what if they’re re-elected? What then? How would these adversarial policies evolve?
Here’s a quick look:
Licensed Producer System Continues
The crony-capitalist cartel that is the LP monopoly would not just continue, but be given a generation to establish itself, smothering any hope of a more effective, and fair system. We’re seeing this already in the conglomeration of LPs, a restricted market controlled by few and benefiting fewer. Patients would have less choice, less access, and be limited by the flawed and failed process and practices of both the LPs and Health Canada, who oversees them.
If the Conservatives form the next federal government, the raids in Edmonton of MACROS and Winnipeg of Your Medical Cannabis Headquarters would become the norm across the country. The RCMP will have a foot in the door of every dispensary from Cranbrook to Cornerbrook before you can say, “recount.” Vancouver’s sovereignty over dispensary regulation will be fought, and the LPs will be given exclusive rights to the market.
Operation Choke Point Comes to Canada
In the US, we’ve been witness to the Obama administration’s employment of Operation Choke Point, an aggressive action that ignores due process and forces banks to comply with the state’s morality. As the Wall Street Journal puts it, “it’s a thinly veiled ideological attack on industries the Obama administration doesn’t like, such as gun sellers and coal producers.”
You think that Stephen Harper doesn’t look at this and salivate like a dog at a butchery? The one reprieve the medical cannabis in Canada community has had from the Conservatives is the safety of the courts, as R. v. Smith and Allard have shown. Operation Smoke Out would find Harper pressuring every bank, lender, and investor in Canada to de-fund dispensaries, non-profits, community organizations, head shops, and the like to enforce their ideology on the citizenry. And forget about funded scientific study and research.
Most importantly, in creating a template for the devolution of our liberty, such a plan would certainly not stop at medical cannabis.
Rise in Enforcement and Imprisonment
In 2012, the Conservative government passed the Safe Streets and Communities Act, which introduced mandatory minimums and increased prison sentences for cannabis offences. Another federal mandate would certainly see an expansion of these types of policies that criminalizes and stigmatizes patients and non-violent citizens. A newly elected Conservative government would surely make news outlets like Cannabis in Canada or activist organizations like the Cannabis Rights Coalition illegal, or very difficult to operate.
This isn’t fearmongering. This is a simple consideration of an inevitable evolution of an aggressive, prohibitionist government that sees you as a criminal, that hates patients who have found treatment that doesn’t fit within the limited context of the Conservative ideology, that hates the power of the courts to usurp their dictatorial governance, and refuses to listen to science or the electorate, both of whom want an immediate end to prohibition. This election doesn’t just decide the future of medical cannabis in Canada, but the future of our liberties as well.