“It was forced. The entire issue was rushed. I believe it wasn’t the highest priority for an incoming government.”
Cannabis is legal in Canada, but not everyone is happy about it.
Wannabe Conservative Party of Canada leader Peter MacKay revealed in a recent interview with the Kelowna Daily Courier that he does not support the legalization of cannabis, which came into force in Canada in October 2018, and that the drug should have been decriminalized instead.
Editor James Miller asked McKay if he agreed “with the legalization of cannabis.”
“I don’t,” responded MacKay. “It should have been de-criminalized and that’s where our government was heading on the advice of the Canadian Police Association and chiefs of police. Bringing in a phased-way with decriminalization would have been far preferable.”
MacKay said his concerns lie with the drug’s potential effect on youth and those with mental illnesses and criticized the Liberal government’s policy and procedures with regard to cannabis legislation.
“What I most worry about is the impact on young people, the mental health implications, the impaired driving implications,” said MacKay. “It was forced. The entire issue was rushed. I believe it wasn’t the highest priority for an incoming government. It was the back-of-a-napkin promise that the current prime minister had made. I believe we have jumped the shark on that issue.”
MacKay added that the federal government’s cannabis legalization plan should have “more emphasis on protecting people from other drugs, fentanyl and oxycontin has to be part of any plan that’s there for public health reasons.” However, he did not elaborate on how he would protect Canadians from those drugs.
MacKay also criticized the fact that the 16-month-old legal cannabis industry has yet to displace the illicit market, which has existed for decades.
“The promise that it (legalization) was going to reduce the black market has been a complete failure,” he said. “There’s now simply more marijuana available to more people, including young people. I don’t think that’s the most productive and highest priority that a government could pursue,” he added.
Recent figures show, however, that young people are consuming significantly less of the drug since it was federally legalized.
It is certainly not the only time politicians have made negative comments regarding cannabis, including those by ex-Conservative MP Julian Fantino. Fantino once compared legalization to murder, telling the Toronto Sun, “I guess we can legalize murder, too, and then we won’t have a murder case” in 2004, and stating that he was “completely opposed to legalization of marijuana” in 2015.
Time will tell if MacKay, like Fantino, ends up changing his views. The latter now sits on the board of Canadian cannabis producer Aleafia Health.
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Written by Emma Spears