My opinion on the new Liberal Majority in Parliament is, admittedly, skewed. Nine years living under the Harper yolk, watching my wife suffer with seizures, watching my own health fade, and watching the number of marijuana-related arrests increase every year, has left me jaded and bitter.
Watching our new PM support mandatory minimum sentence legislation for marijuana when he sat as an MP, and supporting fascist laws like C51 and others, makes me think he is nothing more than a better-looking Harper.
When one considers that the party that sits in power now fought medical marijuana users tooth and nail all the way to the Supreme Court from 1998 to 2006, one is hard-pressed to feel optimistic.
Living in Canada for every one of my 46 years has also taught me to never get my hopes up about anything, ever.
So I decided to ask some “high-ranking” Canadian Marijuana activists “What do you expect to happen in regards to medical marijuana in Canada in light of this new Liberal majority?” Here were their answers.
Debbie Stultz-Giffin, Chair, Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana Society:
“As we move forward with a legalization model I would like to see provisions that a diagnosis, not a physician, allows for medical access to cannabis. Furthermore, all court decisions dictating therapeutic access will go un-challenged, patients/caregivers will be able continue with home gardens and compassion clubs
will be legalized and legitimized.”
Ted Smith, publisher of the Cannabis Digest:
“Since the Liberals have not announced a detailed plan, many of us are left wondering whether the regulations will allow small producers to enter to market or whether the rules will be favoured towards large corporate suppliers.
We are hoping the government creates laws which encourage small businesses to enter into the industry, much like
how wine is controlled. We all fear a form of legalization that grants powers to large corporations while excluding small business. Any legalization scheme that does not allow for personal growing will be fought in court and on the streets until we are allowed to grow our own.”
Matt Mernagh, Journalist, Activist, Author, Internet Talk Show Host:
“I would expect more Licensed Producers and possibly better access from doctors who are willing to sign. It would be great if Liberals work on disabled people getting access to affordable medical marihuana.”
Kirk Tousaw, Lawyer:
“I hope that the Liberals will stop wasting taxpayer money fighting sick Canadians in court. Instead of suing them in Court, I’m prepared to work with them to craft the worlds best medical cannabis policy.”
Mike Foster, owner of Crosstown Traffic, Ottawa’s oldest head shop:
“If Mr. Trudeau is true to his word, then medical users should be able to return to growing their own medication without fearing any consequences.”
Marcel Gignac, Director of Communications – Medicinal Cannabis Patients’ Alliance of Canada:
“I never ‘expect’ anything a politician says in an effort to garner votes, but I at least hope he is a man of his word. While I agree that the legalization for recreational use could be a great vehicle to increase revenue through taxation, I am more concerned on his 2011 stance that medical patients should have the right to grow their own.
With many of our sick and disabled living below the poverty level, they should not have to decide between buying medicine, or buying food when they can barely afford one because of corporate greed that the Harper Regime forced on us.”
David Malmo-Levine, Spokesperson for the Stressed And Depressed Association:
“We are probably going to get some kind of legalization that excludes the young and the poor – our job now is to spread the evidence of cannabis not harming the developing minds of young people, so that we can then create a legalization model less restrictive than the wine model – something akin to the organic coffee bean model with perhaps a parental permission policy to account for the increased impairment levels of novice users.
The important thing is to remove the red tape around industrial hemp and shift subsidies away from non renewables and towards renewable energy such as hemp ethanol so we can learn to live sustainably, with no more oil wars, oil spills and climate destabilization – the ‘save the world’ side effects of building a ‘legalization for all’ model for the rest of the world to copy.”
Judith Renaud, Canadian Chair, Educators For Sensible Drug Policy:
“Drug education is a health issue. It is the responsibility of an educator to consider the wellness of their student while in their care. Educators in the public school system must be conversant about medicinal marijuana during this early period of Marijuana ‘legalization’ in Canada.
The new legalization policies can affect the decisions by education administrators in public school districts across Canada. A student who has been given the right by a physician to consume cannabis during school hours is an excellent opportunity for educators to support and acknowledge the value of evidence based drug education. The responsibility of an educator is to help keep youth safe.
Safety implies that with a Doctor’s prescription, cannabis can help children under the age of 19 who suffer from diseases that require cannabis intervention. Using science, facts and evidence the educator has the appropriate tools to engage in dialogue with their students and staff about the value of liberty and freedom of choice for every Canadian student in the public school system. Legalization has empowered educator’s to offer relevant guidelines to those who need it the most.”
Dana Larsen, Owner/Operator of The Dispensary in Vancouver:
“I expect this is the beginning of the end of cannabis prohibition in Canada. The election of Trudeau is the best possible outcome of this election for the cannabis movement. Now our job is make sure he acts on his promises, and to make sure the legalization model we end up with is the best it can be.” I also asked the Ottawa Police if they plan to stop charging people with marijuana offences now that the Liberals are promising to legalize, and of course they said no. Tens of thousands of charges will be laid across Canada, likely for several more years to come.”
As for me, well, I expect home and designated growing permits for medical users to be reinstated, probably fairly soon, but only after the government fights the Allard case, and others, until the bitter end. I do not expect the new government to allow people to grow marijuana at home for any reason, except, perhaps, the courts forcing them to.
I also expect them to inflict arbitrary and onerous plant number, dosage, and storage limits, along with a relinquishing of some of our Charter Rights to allow “inspectors” and other intrusions into our personal business by police. You know – the kind of authoritarian crap no Canadian would ever want to be subjected to.
I expect the MMPR program to be expanded and streamlined to help more doctors feel more comfortable signing patients up for the program, and for more licensed producers to get into the business. I do not expect small-scale, mom-and-pop growers to be allowed into the MMPR.
I also expect a ridiculous and self-contradictory “legalization” scheme for “recreational” users that will do nothing at all to stem the tide of young creeps dealing extra-legal marijuana to teens. The Liberals’ promise to implement stiff penalties for people who do shows me that they have no idea what really legalizing marijuana even looks like.
If one person (of any age) can be criminally charged for growing, selling, buying, or using marijuana in any quantity, from a single joint to a thousand plants, then it isn’t really “legal”, is it? I expect expanded powers and budgets for police, and a new pogrom against marijuana users who drive. Basing the rules on debunked science and police balderdash, we can expect some truly Orwellian new road safety rules to be enacted, and far steeper penalties for someone with trace amounts of pot in their system than for someone who blew a fraction over the legal blood-alcohol limit.
The use of “pot breathalyzers” will be employed, but since blood-cannabis levels have no correlation to actual impairment, we can also expect lengthly and expensive court challenges to all of the laws and regulations that will be enacted.
I expect arbitrary and onerous carry-around limits, based on the police’s assertion that anyone possessing more than an ounce, or half ounce, “must be” a dealer. Which begs the question: “Who are they selling to?”
If pot is legal and sold in shops, then who are these “dealers” selling their pot to? I expect more money to be dumped into bogus “addiction” “treatment” programs like CAMH (instead of into education and addiction treatment for drugs that are actually addictive), and millions of tax dollars will be spent on scientifically-inaccurate anti-pot propaganda across all media platforms. I do not, however, expect to see the “talk to your doctor” ads for the government-licensed medical program, however, nor do I expect the licensed producers will be allowed to advertise.
I expect the science and data supporting the safety and efficacy of marijuana – even for kids – to be shoved aside as police fairy tales about “increased potency”, “toxicity”, “addictiveness”, and road dangers win the hearts and minds of the MPs who draft the legislation. Because MPs are far more afraid of cops than they are of the public.
And all through this, one major thing will be ignored: The Parker Ruling of 1999 stipulated that until such time as the government implemented a workable medical marijuana access program, marijuana was off the Controlled Drugs And Substances. The court gave the government one year to comply, and, in the summer of 2000, they gave us the MMAR. This program was dragged into court nine times, and found to be unconstitutional – in whole or in part – every time.
The constitutionality of MMPR was challenged the day it started, so because the government hasn’t yet given us a workable medical access program, marijuana is technically as legal and unregulated as ragweed or dandelions, and has been for 15 years. But you will never hear the government, the media, the courts, or the police admit this. Watching a dead law get more vigorously enforced every year than it was the year before has left me expecting more of the same for years to come.“
Russell Barth is an Ottawa area Marijuana Activist.