Nanaimo-Ladysmith Candidates - Federal Election 2015

Nanaimo-Ladysmith Candidates - Federal Election 2015

Issue Summary #9 – Decriminalization of Marijuana

What steps would you and your party recommend with regard to the legalization, regulation and use of marijuana?

A majority of Canadians (68 per cent) have agreed with the statement “The use of marijuana should be decriminalized.” Efforts to enforce laws against possession and use of marijuana have been costly and ineffective, and according to many, prevent regulation of its use by providing a protected market for criminal elements in our society.

On the other hand, increasingly potent forms of THC, which can be ingested in an increasing variety of ways, are a real health risk to the physical and mental well-being of young people. Studies suggest permanent damage can result from regular use of marijuana by teens.

What steps would you and your party recommend with regard to the legalization, regulation and use of marijuana?

Mark MacDonaldConservative

While courts in Canada have ruled that the government must provide access to marijuana when authorized by a physician, Health Canada does not endorse the use of marijuana, and the Conservative government has put in place new regulations to better protect public health and safety.

I have been listening to constituents, and as one might expect, there is a wide spectrum of responses, particularly on this issue. In conversations with a local health professional whom I greatly respect, he noted that medical marijuana is legal under a physician’s supervision for certain conditions and he supports this and obeys the law.

On the other hand, he cannot encourage the recreational use of marijuana, noting that it comes with health and societal risks and associated costs -although marijuana has been shown to lessen symptoms in some chronic conditions.

He suggests making marijuana a health and educational issue. He would also like to see a gathering together of the relevant experts in health, economics, law enforcement, sociology, etc., form a commission, with a mandate to study all the issues in depth and come up with several options and recommendations. These experts should be nonpartisan and the committee should be balanced.

Paul ManlyGreen

The Green Party has long supported the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana, allowing its sale to adults for medicinal or personal use through licensed distribution outlets.

Scientific research has determined that medical marijuana can be used safely and effectively for relief of a variety of health conditions, and Canadian courts have ruled it should be readily available at an affordable price for all who require it.

We believe that marijuana production should be regulated to ensure facilities are safe and secure and that products meet minimum standards.

However, there are gaps in the current laws and regulations, which are creating confusion for producers, municipalities and enforcement agencies.

Legalization, regulation and taxation would eliminate the confusion and provide revenue to fund education and health programs.

This approach will also address the problem of health risks to young people. With a proper regulatory framework sales can be restricted to adults, with the exception of special medical cases.

As long as marijuana is sold as a street drug, there can be no safety and quality controls. Proper testing and labeling will ensure that consumers understand what they’re consuming. And as with alcohol and tobacco, education and health warnings should be attached to these products.

As your Green MP, I will work to bring together all the levels of governments involved – federal, provincial, and municipal – to establish a clear set of regulations that will ensure the supply of marijuana is safe and restricted in the same way that alcohol sales are.

Sheila MalcolmsonNDP

New Democrats have long said that no one should be going to jail or be stuck with a criminal record for possession of marijuana for personal use. We have pledged to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana immediately.

It is clear Stephen Harper’s “war on drugs” is about ideology, not science, and the Conservatives have refused to listen or act responsibly on this file.

It has been 40 years since the LeDain Commission looked into the non-medical use of drugs and successive Liberal and Conservative governments have done nothing to update the government’s understanding of marijuana use in Canada today.

It is time to modernize our marijuana laws, move to decriminalization, and base laws on scientific evidence and public health principles.

An NDP government would seek to balance prevention, public health and well-being, harm reduction, community safety, and public education. We would also consult and work with provincial, territorial, municipal and Indigenous governments.

I also recently met with local, licensed businesses that provide medical marijuana and listened as they outlined their need for a clear federal framework for the regulation of medical marijuana.

Tim TessierLiberal

The Liberal Party of Canada is committed to the control and strict regulation of Cannabis. While overall importance of legalization has less importance than the economy and the environment, it has GREAT importance to the 800,000 plus Canadians that currently are burdened with a criminal record for simple possession, and stand to have this record expunged.

The government’s current approach to the use of marijuana – prohibition and criminalization – is not working.  Decriminalization does not work, it only provides for more freedom of the criminal element.

The current approach has failed to deter citizens, including young people, from using marijuana.  In 2013, UNICEF reported that Canada (at 28 percent) leads the developed world in cannabis use amongst teenagers. And the trade in marijuana is funneling millions of dollars into criminal organizations.

The Liberal Party is therefore proposing a new approach – to legalize and strictly regulate the commercial production and private use of cannabis in Canada. This new approach would not be introduced without further public consultation.

Marijuana is not dangerous enough to warrant prohibition, yet it is not without its problems. School performance, mild addiction potential and concentration while driving etc.  Public education has been very successful in anti-cigarette smoking programs, and there is good reason to believe that an accurate, realistic public relations campaign would help to curb excessive marijuana use. It should not be made available to teens with regard to soft evidence that there may be an issue of intellectual impairment in younger people.