Justin Trudeau's stand on legalizing pot slammed by federal Conservatives - Macleans.ca

Justin Trudeau’s stand on legalizing pot slammed by federal Conservatives


VANCOUVER – Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has changed his position on the decriminalization of marijuana and now wants to see the drug legalized, taxed and regulated, a stance that has drawn the ire of the Conservative government but applause from pot activists.

Until recently, Trudeau said he backed decriminalization, but expressed skepticism about full-blown legalization, even though his party adopted the position in January 2012.

But while travelling in B.C. this week, as part of a cross-country summer motorhome trip, Trudeau announced first in the Okanagan city of Kelowna Tuesday and then in Vancouver Thursday that he backed legalization.

“I did a lot of listening, a lot of reading and a lot of paying attention to the very serious studies that have come out, and I realized that going the road of legalization is actually a responsible thing to look at and to do,” he said during a stop at Vancouver’s English Bay.

“Marijuana is not a health food supplement. It’s not great for you, but it’s certainly, as many studies have shown, not worse for you than cigarettes or alcohol.”


The comments come at a key moment of the debate in B.C.

Pot activist Dana Larsen and his organization Sensible BC have been given a green light to begin collecting names for a petition in September to decriminalize the drug. The drive wants to see police prevented from enforcing simple possession laws.

Jodie Emery, the wife of Marc Emery, Canada’s so-called Prince of Pot currently imprisoned in the U.S., also announced earlier this month that her husband could soon be transferred to a Canadian prison.

The Conservative government, though, questioned whether Trudeau has the judgement to be the prime minister.

“These drugs are illegal because of the harmful effect they have on users and on society,” the party wrote on its website. “We will continue protecting the interests of families across this country.

“Our government has no interest in seeing marijuana legalized or made more easily available to youth.”

To support their argument, the Conservatives cited statements from the Canadian Police Association, a former RCMP commissioner, the Drug Prevention Network of Canada, and a criminologist from the University of the Fraser Valley.

Meantime, pot activists applauded Trudeau’s new position.

“Having a candidate for prime minister say he wants to legalize marijuana, it just continues the mainstreaming of this perception, of this idea,” said Larsen.

He said there was a time when only former politicians talked about legalization, but then current politicians began to speak out, too.

In fact, B.C.’s former Liberal attorney general Geoff Plant and former NDP premier Ujjal Dosanjh have called for the legalization and regulation of marijuana. Their group, the Stop The Violence B.C. Coalition, has pointed to opinion polls that suggest a majority of British Columbians agree with them.

“This just shows how this issue has moved perhaps from what might have been seen as an unpopular fringe issue 10 or 20 or 30 years ago into something where the vast majority of Canadians support this and major politicians feel comfortable expressing this view,” said Larsen.

Jodie Emery said it was great to hear Trudeau has joined the pro-legalization side of the debate.

“I don’t know if this impacts Marc’s situation, but it’s good to know that when Marc does return home we’ll have a potential prime minister who favours reforming our marijuana laws,” she said.

“I think we’ll be happy to support Justin Trudeau and his run to become prime minister if he’s going to really be serious about making sure prohibition is addressed and serious action is taken.”

British Columbia’s Liberals have stayed out of the debate, arguing drug laws are federal. In fact, during the campaign leading up to the May provincial election, Premier Christy Clark ridiculed her NDP opponent for even taking a position on the issue.

The Sensible BC campaign was given two months to sign up canvassers and prepare to start collecting signatures Sept. 9.

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Justin Trudeau’s stand on legalizing pot slammed by federal Conservatives

  1. And Canada slams the federal Cons.

    • Exactly, Trudeau will SLAM the Conservatives in the next election!

  2. Wow. I’m impressed. It takes some guts to a) admit that your previous stance was wrong and b) take this particular position, given the track record of the Conservatives for fear-mongering and outright lying about research. It will be interesting to see how the NDP deal with this. They will lose a lot of voters if they side with the Cons here.

    • The NDP will lose votes anyway

  3. Welcome to the party pal.

    • Absolutely, remember more taxes, thats the liberal way.

  4. Hmm…The Canadian Press somehow managed to filter out the stupidest thing Trudeau said about this…that legalizing it is the only way to keep it out of the hands of children. I wonder how that happened.

    That’s an interesting premise. Would eliminating handgun restrictions keep them out of the hands of gang members? Would legalizing explosives keep them out of the hands of terrorists?

    • Actually legalizing pot would help to control access, so not really wrong. Eliminate the illegal dealing of pot and control like cigarettes would be somewhat better then with no regulation. Not really an effective measure but at least somewhat more effective then nothing. Yes kids would still get access to smokes and pot, but the new dealers would hopefully be more responsible people like corner store operators. The point is to have better control, not eliminate control. Legalizing pot is not eliminating restrictions, it is creating better restrictions that might actually improve control. The average corner store operator is less likely to shoot someone if they are doing something illegal, then drug dealers who currently control access. So citizens who would not report drug dealers might actually step forward to report problems with corner store operators, because they are more likely not to get shot. Just think about it for a moment.

      • Why do I sense that legalization’s supporters all have a defeatist attitudes?The perfect solution to less gang activity and less access by minors is to stigmatize pot use. Legalizing it will surely increase consumption and the gangs will just switch to other drugs.

        • Actually, legalization supporters all have the facts behind their position, whereas people like you have nothing but opinions. For example, you argue with an opinion that ignores the facts when you write “Legalizing it will surely increase consumption…”. However, the fact is when you legalize or decriminalize drugs consumption drops. That’s what happened in both the Netherlands and Portugal.

          And as for your simplistic opinion that gangs will just switch to other drugs, the solution is obvious: legalize or decriminalize all drugs like Portugal did. It has been over 10 years since Portugal did that and the evidence from that experiment confirms that consumption is down including for teens.

          Why can’t people like you understand that it is the prohibition of a substance or behaviour (eg. prostitution) that gives criminal gangs the opportunity to profit. Remove the profit incentive for gangs and they will move on to something else. There will always be criminal gangs, so it utterly senseless to base something as important as public health policy, and that is what laws involving drugs are. on what criminals are doing. All drug production, distribution, possession and consumption should be treated as medical health issues, not as criminal law issues. Legalize all drugs, and prostitution while we are at it, and worry about what the gangs move on to later. Let medical professionals deal with the drug issues and let the police deal with the gang issues.

    • You saw through trudeau

    • These are the same people that think the only way to make people wear seat-belts or bike helmets is to make it illegal not to.

  5. Bishop Brent, a Canadian, mixing faith with US laws and policies by being unreasonable using false fears about drug use did not eliminate the scourge 100 years ago he ended up enriching over the last 100 years millions of psychopaths. When will conservatives realize their natural affinity with psychopaths kills people. Ref. “Snakes in Suits, When Psychopaths Go to Work” distributing illegal drugs, as drug enforcement police and in prison management.

  6. All i can say is, if the federal gov allows the sale of cigarettes they cant make pot illegal! Quite being frickin bigots! And all you cigarette smokers. We should start a petition and stop the sale of them!!! This is B.S one is allowed and one isn’t! You talk about pot might get in the hands of our children WELL GUESS WHAT CIGARATTES ARE!! They have been since they were invented!! They cause major health issues … But yet the federal gov still sells it! And what do they do so our children don’t smoke. They put a poor attempt of a age limit on them!! Whoopty whoooo! Are you kidding me?? And ID them at the store??? Do the store owners have smart serve??? This is a joke i’m tired of the health care going up and up and us non smokers have to pay for the smokers health problems!! And they wont legalize pot and call pot smokers bad criminals!! Give me a frickin break. This is this BIGGEST ONE SIDED ISSUE EVER! The police of corse don’t want it legalized and will tell the public storys out there ass on how bad it is. Only to save there funds that come in from the Government! And layoffs probably. Com’on there cops they up hold the law thats it!! There not scientists who have done research , They’ve arrested people that could of been on other crap ( man made). Not naturally grown! Arrest the man made crap thats drugs!! If pots illegal , SO SHOULD CIGARETTES. I’m just saying……

    • Yes cigarettes are bad for you but when you burn pot you get the same cancer causing byproducts of combustion, CO, sulpher dioxides, etc. and thats if the grower washed all the fertilizer out properly. So if you are against cigarettes cause they cause health problems then it doesnt really wash with me to pretend that weed is somehow good for your health. How about the increased appetite? I run about 10 lbs heavier when I smoke pot due to snacking and laziness. Or the fact that it makes being bored OK? How easy is it to sit on the couch for a weekend playing HALO in your underwear when your high? The point is that pot like cigarettes is choice to be made by adults who can consider the pros and cons before using. The real positive to the legalization of pot are to clear up legal system backlogs and eliminate the easy money for gangs and growers not to mention the neighborhood pot dealers who live off of untaxed income.

      • You don’t have to smoke. Vaporizing is just as good, and doesn’t combust any plant matter. There’s considerably less smell and no cannabinoids are lost to combustion.

      • Actually, the point about the smoke-related components has already been scientifically proven to be at least partially negated by the cannabinoids which allow the body to repair itself.

        I don’t want to see “legalization” any more than I want to see “decriminalization” or “tax and regulate” or “regulate like [choice of the day]”…what I want to see is the full REPEAL of cannabis prohibition once and for all.

        We’d save TWO BILLION ANNUALLY in wasted funds, the existing “underground economy” would then be allowed to come above board and then be subject to “business income taxes” which would pump tens of billions into the “REAL economy”. And that’s not even including the standard sales taxes which retail sales would generate. Not just on cannabis itself, but on all of the related items…furniture, fixtures, trades, rent, shelves, cash registers, utilities, WAGES FOR NEW EMPLOYEES.

        And then what? Those WAGES would be subject to income taxes!

        All without a single letter of “new tax code”, we could easily rebuild an old market within a year or two, and all we need to do is to stop doing what we know has not worked, isn’t working, and can never work.

        REPEAL cannabis prohibition. Overgrow The World!

  7. The government and the police make you think pot is baaaaaaad! Tey it one time. And tell us what you did! We know … You sat down ate some food and was too lazy to make it to the bedroom and fell asleep on the couch! Thought about going to get food but couldnt get up!! Man what a bad drug! It makes you crazy! Look out for that guy on marijuana ! Lol. MAKE POT LEGAL, OR MAKE CIGARETTES ILLEGAL TO SELL SMOKE AND BUY! STOP BEING THE BIGOTS YOU ARE ! Stop costing the tax payers money to stop the productivity on pot! And start selling it your never going to get rid of marijuana NEVER! But you’ll stop all these people selling it on the street and stop them from getting hook ups with the dangerous drugs ! There right about one thing marijuana is a gate way drug …. For the drug dealers to get another hook up with real drugs that kill people from over dosing ! I bet it would get cut in half the drug crime!!!

  8. Sorry big thumbs try it one time ( a joint that is )

  9. Legalize, regulate and tax. Same as cigarettes and alcohol.

  10. what about the smell ? with everyone smoking .I for one don”t like it. How about you?

    • There’s vaporizers and edibles. No need for smoking. Your point is moot.

      I have allergies and dislike most perfumes, but no one is stopping people from using them. Nor would I expect it.

      • MOOT, his point is MOOT.

        • Thanks

  11. The Liberals do this every time they want to buy votes for the next election. It’s been going on for 40 years and people fall for EVERY TIME. They’re all talk and no action.

  12. Damn, damn, damn, I loathe the Liberals and Justin Trudeau more so but I have to concede that I agree with him and would consider changing my vote. The prohibition of marajuana is to the point of ridiculous, it is widely available as it is and as of now it serves as a cash cow for gangs and growers. Is it good for you? Nope, but neither is wine, or fast food, or cigarettes or unprotected sex.

    • What about running the country, A really shallow reason to switch your vote…….

  13. This is great. Finally a leader who is willing to live in reality.

  14. The feds should worry more about have a crack addict as the mayor of Toronto.

  15. The feds should worry more about having a crack addict mayor in Toronto.

    • Well not quite, but that was a nice try.

  16. The Tory reaction is a measure of just how out of touch they are with reality.

  17. This is a no brainer. Legalize it and take it away from organized crime. The cops don’t really care about pot, except that when they find someone smoking a joint it gives them the right to search that person. I believe that is the only reason they want the prohibition to continue.

    It may interest some of you to know that it is not actually illegal for minors to drink or smoke (at least not in Alberta). They cannot do either in public. With alcohol it is perfectly legal if provided by a parent, guardian or live in adult boyfriend or girlfriend.

    • In the NWT/Nunavut – I lived in a dry village (no alcohol was allowed) and the illegal drug of choice by the police was marijuana. Every time alcohol was smuggled into town, fights would start, wives and girlfriends would get beat up, and the occasional murder would happen. When pot was smuggled into town, the users melted into the couch and woke up the next day and continued on with their regular life.

      The police preferred pot as it creates passivity – alcohol often creates aggression. LEGALIZE AND REGULATE POT.

      I have heard from “officials” who know it all, that “pot is a stepping stone to harder drugs. Most hard drug users started off using pot – so therefor pot is a stepping stone.” My question to them is: ” what about Milk? 100% of hard drug users started off drinking milk- so therefor – using the same reasoning – milk leads to hard drugs? Ban milk?

      • I think if they want to rely on that they need to do a study on how many pot smokers turn to harder drugs, and how many do not.

  18. Let’s see….the C’s have no problem with alcohol or cigarettes, but do have a problem with marijuana and, while supporting the use of the first two, take issue with the last one…mostly because their biggest rival/fear is for it. “Protect” is a word used by politicians whenever THEY are threatned. The moment any politician or party uses that language, look to them as a great threat than whatever they are stating they are protecting you from. Fear the fear -mongers.

  19. ef

  20. Smoking one in salute to Justin Trudeau and the folks at UPS….United Pot Smokers

  21. Marijuana should be a Health Food Supplement.
    It cures many diseases.

  22. It’s time to REPEAL cannabis prohibition once and for all. Of course, that would be “the right thing to do”, and “the smart thing to do”, and “the thing to do based on scientific evidence” and we could save over two billion dollars in annual WASTE “going after plant growers and possessors”, instead of the current plan to raise the waste to SIX BILLION DOLLARS annually…that we don’t have.

    Where do we get all of this money we waste? FROM FOREIGN BANKERS!

    How do we pay off the debts? WE DON’T! We CAN’T! If they never create the actual “money”, why the hell would they create the INTEREST we would need to pay for the “loans?”

    The system is flawed from the very roots, and since NOBODY is taught anything about the creation of money, or even abut what money is, NOBODY fights against it…and now, we’ve got an 800 Billion dollar debt “in our names”, all because of corporate and government and international fraud.

    But let’s keep doing what we know doesn’t work, folks…that’s “The Canadian Way.”

  23. It’s about time. The only sane, rational, moral, just policy position on Cannabis is full legalization. It should be treated exactly like alcohol. I am astounded that the NDP didn’t take this position first. Decriminalization is a half measure that wouldn’t remove criminal gangs from the picture. Full legalization and the free market should result in lower prices based on reality rather than prohibition, thus removing the profit incentive for gangs.

    The cruel irony of the drug war is that for its proponents and warriors it is a moral issue, yet they are far more immoral than the drug users they persecute. That is why they are immune to the facts about drugs and are unable to understand that the prohibition of drugs causes far more harm to individuals and society than the drugs themselves. Heroin is just one example of that. Legally prescribed Heroin is safe when used as directed. All the harms are caused by prohibition.

    False morality is also the reason why drug warriors cannot or refuse to understand the basic principles of harm reduction, and reject the fact, for example, that INSITE saves the lives of addicts. They reject mountains of evidence because they think its immoral to allow people to use a prohibited drug in a medical clinic, but what is truly immoral is that they would rather those addicts die in the street from an overdose, which is what would happen if got their wish and closed INSITE down.

    When you scratch the surface, it’s almost always religious people who hold those hypocritical moralistic views of drug use, though some churches are beginning to understand that prohibition is far more immoral than drug use. Religion is obviously behind the Harper government’s strong stand against drugs, and the drug war propaganda, myths and outright lies spouted by Harper, MacKay and their ilk sounds just like religious dogma. Every word they speak and position they take on drug issues is not based on facts but on fear-mongering.

    I’ld like to see what’s in their medicine chests or liquor cabinets. Speaking of alcohol, “the Liquor Control Board of Ontario began offering its products to federal departments and agencies at a 49 per cent discount from the retail price that everyone else pays. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/07/21/canada-lcbo-bargain-booze.html

    So federal politicians and bureaucrats get a 49% discount for booze that no other citizen can get, while they continue denying citizens the right to use a far less toxic and dangerous drug, Cannabis, that also has amazing health benefits. And here in BC our politicians are busying wining and dining in luxury while children suffer the worst poverty rate in Canada. http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/2013/07/23/Public-Accounts-2013/


  24. Wow! Justin your so hip! Just the coolest, I can hardly wait! Now when I talk to my mom about getting into college. She won’t care if I go or not because she will be toking up me. We can be airheads together!

    • What’s a “so hip”? You referred to his “so hip”. What is that?

  25. There is this deception that this is a completely harmless, good for you and no harm to society drug. Give me a fricken’ break. I’ve gone through the drug thing myself and I hope pot is never legalized. I’ve got a lot of friends who continue to smoke and I think its too bad. We have enough issues to deal with in society. Let’s not add more. Here’s a recent scientific study of its harmful effects on youth for you who are open minded. Listen to both sides of the argument instead burying your head in the sand . I’m with the Conservatives on this one.

    • This is typical of drug war propaganda and hyperbole. The headline screams definitively that Cannabis causes brain damage and schizophrenia on the basis of one very small study on mice that has not been verified. There are quite a few studies on Cannabis and mental health and not one single one, including this one, shows a causal connection in humans. Correlation is not the same as causation, yet media reports always confuse the two and end up making unscientific claims.

      • Read it again and listen to the video. Every study showing negative effects is of course drug war propaganda and hyperbole to those who don’t want facts. I heard these medical scientists on a radio program and this article is just a small portion of the findings., When you start dealing with family members (nephew in my case) who have these very symptoms you see the reality of these findings.

        • I would ask you to point me to those studies showing negative effects of Cannabis, but I know you can’t. But even if you could, they would be very weak studies like the one you’ve cited, that do not show cause and effect in humans.

          Even when scientists go looking for the negative effects they can’t find them. For example, one of the largest studies ever done was by Dr. Tashkin in 2005 who designed a study expecting to find that smoking Cannabis caused or contributed to lung cancer. What he found instead was not only that Cannabis did not cause or contribute to lung cancer, but that it has a protective effect. Other studies have also shown that Cancer has anti-tumor properties. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=large-study-finds-no-link

          Tashkin did subsequent studies which should similar effects, including the fact that Cannabis smokers showed improved lung function.


          I could go on for a couple more hours providing you with valid, verifiable scientific studies showing the health benefits of Cannabis on a wide range of ailments.

          You have been deceived by decades of prohibition propaganda so that you cannot see facts right in front of you. If you are truly serious about protecting your nephew and teens from drugs, and remember no anti-prohibitionist advocates that teens use Cannabis unless its for medicinal purposes, then you would examine the evidence from countries like the Netherlands and Portugal, where they have decriminalized Cannabis and other drugs, and teen use went down afterwards.

          • You are arguing like a propagandist. You claim studies showing negative effects of Cannabis outweigh the positive ones, yet you offer no valid evidence of your claim.

            Again, you refuse or are unable to understand the difference between co-relation and causation. The latest news report (not study) you cite provides nothing but the anecdotal evidence of one person. But I repeat, there is no study that shows Cannabis causes mental illness. Many people with mental illness use Cannabis, but that is co-relation, not causation.

            Justin has taken a look at all the scientific and social evidence regarding the prohibition of Cannabis and come to the only conclusion that a rational honest person can, that the best policy is legalized Cannabis. He recognizes that prohibition has completely failed, has wasted billions of dollars, and that basing public policy on his mother’s experience would be foolish indeed.

    • Smart

  26. I’ve heard too many promises from too many politicians over the decades. I’ve stopped believing any promises they make before an election. I knew “Open and transparent” was patent BS the moment I heard it. I’ll wait till after the election for the truth on this promise too.

  27. Trudeau has smoked too much pot already–he is out of his gourde! We do not need 2 introduce more drugs into society–doesn’t he realize what it did 2 his mother. Besides who wants 2 be close 2 a pot smoker– the stink & smoke—good 4 ur health? HOpe he grows up -soon!!!!!

  28. Legalization is the sensible thing to do. It’ll give it the status of ‘controlled substance’ protecting the public from potent/harmful varieties, allow the govt to collect taxes & get rid of the criminals that peddle the stuff.

  29. Of course conservatives “slammed” his stand on pot. The only change they want….wait there conservatives. Vote for change!

  30. I’m not at all impressed by the arguments posed by supporters of marijuana legalization.

    The argument that gangsters would get less money once marijuana is legalized is weak. If marijuana becomes legalized then they would simply switch to other illegal drugs. Furthermore, the police have taken a very slack attitude towards enforcing the drug laws. If it’s indeed easier for kids to get marijuana than cigarettes, then that’s due to the lack of enforcement by the police. Would this argument be applicable if we’re talking about opium or cocaine?

    Second, comparing marijuana with other abusable and harmful substances doesn’t do the supporters any favours. We have seen the harmful effects of alcohol and cigarettes. Why would we even consider adding another potentially addictive and harmful substance into society? Using alcohol and cigarettes as the benchmark sets for a very low standard.

  31. If Alcohol is legal, then pot should be. Marijuana is safer than Alcohol. Any government that says marijuana is dangerous but has no problem with the legalization of tobacco and alcohol are uneducated hypocrites. Smoking marijuana everyday is safer than eating Fast food everyday.

  32. There is talk that all legalized pot in Canada would have to be purchased from one monopolizing producer, a person that is connected with Justin Trudeau. All other pot would still be illegal to grow or purchase. Has anyone else heard this?
    Also, watch the documentary called “the union”. Its on netflix. It has some really interesting information.