Pierre Poilievre became the Conservative Party leader this past weekend, but what does this mean for cannabis?
Conservatives in Canada have typically been supportive of the drug war. Like Liberals who believe guns, and not irresponsible people with guns, are the problem, Conservatives tend to hate drugs instead of blaming the irresponsible drug user.
But considering, Pierre Poilievre ran on a more-libertarian-oriented message. With his stated goal to make Canada the freest country in the world, one has to wonder, what does a Poilievre win mean for cannabis and the drug war?
And what will happen if (or when) he beats Justin Trudeau in the next election?
Who is Poilievre, And What Does He Think About Cannabis?
Poilievre is now the leader of His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. Getting 68% on the first ballot gives him a clear mandate to reshape the party in his image.
The corporate press believes Poilievre should now “moderate” his message and adopt Liberal-lite stances to appeal to a broad number of Canadians.
But this is the last thing he should be doing, and I don’t think he will. Part of Poilievre’s appeal is how he doesn’t rely on legacy media to get his message across.
And he doesn’t care what they say about him.
While previous leaders like Erin O’Toole tried to soften their message and sound more Liberal than the Liberals, Pierre Poilievre has transcended typical left-right politics. And this is what has the corporate press frothing at the mouth.
Like Trump, the more they hate him, the more they call him dangerous and radical, strawman his positions, and nitpick his every move, the more appeal he’ll have.
Now, a Poilievre win is all well and good for people who care about the cost of living. Or about our reduced civil liberties under this woke Liberal government.
But what about cannabis?
Despite cannabis already being legal, despite the absolute state of incompetency and narcissism from Justin Trudeau’s government, there are Canadian stoners out there that will gladly vote red again.
Until Poilievre’s Conservatives come out with an official policy on cannabis, Poilievre’s appeal will come from his common sense approach to economics, not his views on the drug war.
In fact, if we look at his past statements, this is one area where Poilievre does sound like a moderate.
Like Liberal politicians or public health busybodies, Poilievre believes drugs are addictive, and it’s the federal government’s job to regulate them.
What Does a Poilievre Win Mean for Cannabis?
On Monday, November 27, 2017, the House of Commons met to vote on the Cannabis Act. Pierre Poilievre voted nay.
Enough said. Right?
If you’re a cannabis-smoking Canadian supporting Poilievre, then you’re an idiot. No further comment or clarification is required.
Of course, we shouldn’t forget the bill’s sponsor—the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould.
As she told the House of Commons justice committee in 2019:
“For a period of approximately four months, between September and December of 2018, I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in my role as the attorney general of Canada, in an inappropriate effort to secure a deferred-prosecution agreement with SNC-Lavalin.”
And the crazy part is? We published that only five months ago, and already there have been new scandals (like interfering with an RCMP mass-shooting investigation to score political points on gun control).
So if you’re a cannabis-smoking Canadian supporting Justin Trudeau because he corporatized the cannabis industry in 2018, then I ask you politely to put down the bong.
Or don’t. Just don’t hold any opinions on the matter. One negative side effect of democracy is that it gives people the illusion that their voice is always informed and essential when, sometimes, it really isn’t.
Poilievre’s Stance on Gay Marriage & Regulations
Want to know what a Poilievre win means for cannabis? Look at gay marriage. He voted against it initially. But now he supports it. That’s how figures like Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama dealt with the issue.
Poilievre appeals to his base, and he’s figured out how to increase that base in this political climate. Cannabis connoisseurs shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss him.
Consider, Poilievre’s conservative case for fewer taxes and regulations. Do you know who will benefit? Cannabis producers choking under excessive federal red tape and excise taxes.
Poilievre, if he governs like he campaigns, likely won’t want Ottawa involved with so much. Downsizing federal responsibilities to provinces is likely to include cannabis, as provinces can issue and regulate production and manufacturing licences just as well as Ottawa.
Now, is there a possibility Poilievre won’t steamroll cannabis industry red tape because he thinks drugs are bad?
Considering how he tweeted in response to B.C.’s decriminalization, then, yes, cannabis connoisseurs have every reason not to trust him.
But, when you listen to Poilievre on this subject, he doesn’t sound too different than the Liberals, the NDP, or the various public health busybodies that talk to grown adults like children.
What a Poilievre Win Means for the Drug War
Despite quoting good economists like Milton Friedman or Thomas Sowell, Poilievre seems to pick and choose which lessons he takes from them.
Friedman once said, “If you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel. That’s literally true.”
Nevertheless, Poilievre tweeted in May, “Decriminalizing deadly drug use is the opposite of compassionate. Those struggling with addiction need treatment & recovery. Drug dealers need strong policing & tough sentences.”
Now, he may be appealing to the conservative base that just made him leader of the opposition.
But it’s also possible Poilievre truly believes this.
And it wouldn’t be that far-fetched. Almost everyone believes that “drug addicts” need treatment and recovery options.
Some of us call cannabis a “soft” drug, exempt from this nonsense, but “hard” drug users of cocaine or heroin need our help.
But that’s an arbitrary distinction.
Is alcohol a “soft” drug because it’s legal and gets the cultural thumbs up? Or is it a “hard” drug because of the damage it can do to your brain and body?
Do people who enjoy alcohol but deprive themselves of it suffer from a disease?
Virtually no one on either side of the spectrum questions the validity of this kind of thinking. Nobody wants to challenge the rehab cottage industry.
Poilievre on Drugs like Trudeau on Guns
Poilievre is correct when he lambasts Trudeau’s gun control. The Liberals are disarming law-abiding Canadians while doing virtually nothing to curtail the illegal importation of guns from the USA.
Toronto cops are adamant that the violent gun crimes in the city have been from illegal weapons sourced in the USA.
How Poilievre and others approach cannabis and drugs is how the Liberals approach guns.
As Dr. Carl Hart has demonstrated, doing heroin or cocaine doesn’t make you a bad person or turn you into a mindless addict.
The drug war makes it harder for responsible people to get their hands on substances they choose to take. All the while doing nothing to combat the root causes of addiction, which is not a disease, but an ideological viewpoint.
What Does a Poilievre win mean for cannabis? For the drug war? The same thing another Justin Trudeau win means. More of the same.
But as they say, politics is downstream from culture.
Poilievre is changing the Conservative Party culture to sound more libertarian. Certainly, bringing in record numbers of young people helped.
So it’s only a matter of time until the Conservative Party’s drug policy starts to catch up.
Until then, if your only political aspirations were legal cannabis, congratulations. You won. Go home and shut up.