On October 17th, 2018, the government of Canada legalized cannabis with strict conditions on who could sell it, how to access legal products, and how much you could grow for personal use.
This top-down public health scheme split BC Bud into two camps. Those who wanted to follow the rules and try to become legitimate. And those who saw the corporatization of their medicinal herb and said, “no, thanks.”
The two are incompatible, as evidenced by the continued existence of the illicit market.
Canadians aren’t buying moonshine made in bathtubs. Alcohol regulations across the country are liberal enough to prevent black markets.
This truth is so evident that only the “right-wing” parties of the country understand this. Unfortunately, only one of them is capable of winning the next election.
And it’s led by a leader who believes drugs are inherently harmful and that “addicts” need treatment and recovery.
A Pierre Poilievre Conservative government likely won’t touch the Cannabis Act with a ten-foot pole. But let’s say they do. What would a Conservative Cannabis Act look like?
The Cannabis Act is Already Conservative
If we travel back to, let’s say, 1972, and I told you Canada would legalize cannabis in 2018. Then I explained how the regime looked. You might wonder: did the Conservative Party legalize cannabis?
Traditionally, liberals have been for individual rights. A true, small-L liberal government would legalize cannabis for the same reason they don’t ban abortions: you own your body.
Wanna fill your lungs with cannabis smoke? That’s your prerogative. Just as you have every right to evict a trespasser using your uterus, rent-free.
Liberals, in the classical sense, are about decentralization.
We already have laws on the books to deal with the legal cannabis industry. There’s no reason to create a task force or an “expert panel,” to study the issue.
Health Canada does not need to enforce the rules.
If the Conservative Party legalized cannabis, they would do it for all the reasons Justin Trudeau’s Liberals outlined in 2015.
We gotta protect the children. We gotta remove the profits from criminal gangs.
Cannabis legalization, as envisioned by the Cannabis Act, is an egalitarian idea. A conservative reaction to the failure of the drug war as it pertains to weed.
Justin’s legalization is a Conservative Cannabis Act. From the erroneous claims about public health and safety to the anti-marketing, plain-packaging, child-resistant plastic containers legal cannabis is sold in.
The Cannabis Act fits squarely into the conservative camp.
Will Justin Run on the Weed Ticket Again?
Justin Trudeau could face an election when this Cannabis Act review wraps up in 18 months. He could run the weed ticket again, as that’s the only real success he’s had with young people.
And young people are leaving the Liberals and NDP in droves to join Poilievre’s common sense revolution.
We know Justin loves using wedge issues to divide Canadians amongst themselves.
What do you think Justin will say? He’ll go wherever the polls lead him.
We know what Poilievre will do. Despite his condemnation of public health for lockdowns and vaccine passports, he’s on board with their addiction, recovery, and treatment rhetoric.
Fortunately, if this is part of Justin’s reelection plan, I don’t think it’ll work.
For starters, it’s not 2015 anymore. Justin’s “sunny ways” have come and gone without anybody noticing they were here to begin with.
It’s 2022, and people are struggling with the cost of living. Liberal commentators talk about inflation not being an election issue if (or when) Canadians go to the polls in 2025.
But that’s ridiculous. The people saying this are those who didn’t see the inflation crisis coming. And when it hit, they called it “transitory.”
The reality is we’re entering the stages of economic depression the likes the world hasn’t seen since the 1930s.
Suppose Justin tries to run on a more liberalized legalization scheme.
It’s unlikely that young people living with their parents or putting 80% of their income into their living costs will care.
What Pierre Poilievre Told Me
I don’t see a Poilievre government touching the Cannabis Act.
If the 18-month review wraps up in time for an election, perhaps a Poilievre government will implement its findings. Part of that continuity of government, where Harper’s medical cannabis regulations aren’t so different from Justin Trudeau’s conservative Cannabis Act.
What will Pierre Poilievre do? I decided to ask him. It took over a month for a reply by e-mail. And I suspect this was probably a staffer or a bot, not Pierre himself.
Nevertheless, he signed his name to it, so this must be his opinion.
He wrote: “Dangerous and addictive drugs tear families apart, promote criminal behaviour, and destroy lives. Instead of making it easier for drug addicts to consume drugs, the Liberal Government should support treatment and recovery programs to get addicts off drugs.”
(Which, on further inspection, is taken verbatim from what Harold Albrecht said in the House of Commons on February 26th, 2019).
So basically, the same narrative when Ottawa and B.C. announced the decriminalization of drugs like opioids and cocaine.
Of course, politicians are going to politic.
I don’t expect Poilievre to have an opinion on cannabis legalization anymore than he has on abortion or gay marriage.
These topics aren’t worth disrupting the narrative that Liberals raise the cost of living while Conservatives will bring it down.
Anything counter or irrelevant to this narrative won’t see the light of day. That is the nature of democratic politics.
A Conservative Cannabis Act
Can a Conservative Cannabis Act bring down the cost of living? It sounds a little ridiculous, but it’s a subject I’ve covered here before.
Centuries of selective breeding have split the cannabis sativa genus into two identifiable crops: consumable cannabis and industrial hemp.
Hemp may be the most sustainable crop on the planet. It certainly is one of the fastest-growing. It requires little water, no pesticides, and returns nutrients to the topsoil.
Instead of banning plastic bags and straws, the government can promote hemp-derived plastic with targeted tax breaks and subsidies.
Hemp is suitable for textiles, as well. Our current approach uses cotton, which requires pesticides that build up in the soil and contaminate drinking water.
Deforestation is a problem solved by hemp farming.
Hemp farming can also supplement our oil production and eventually overtake it. Hemp biodiesel isn’t some fringe, unworkable idea.
A Conservative Cannabis Act could look at cannabis and hemp as undeveloped resources.
Essential for protecting the planet’s topsoil and conserving Canada’s resources while reducing plastics, pollution, and waste.
All without a carbon tax.
Poilievre’s Conservatives may not make this an election issue this time around. But this is the way if they want to decimate the Liberals and NDP in future elections.
The Liberal Cannabis Act treats cannabis as a drug worse than heroin and subjects it to taxes and regulations that end up doing more harm than good.
A Conservative Cannabis Act could work to conserve the environment.