In spite of how cheerily Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seemed when he first stated his party’s intent was not to merely decriminalize cannabis but to legalize it, the federal Liberals have since maintained a sombre and at times morose demeanour when it came to their legalization plan.
I suppose some of this is the natural evolution of politicking on an issue after being informed by policy and polling, but it does strike me as odd that other than that sunny day wearing a purple polo, the prime minister and his party have made it seem as though they were somehow being forced into going forward with the legalization of cannabis.
All of the talking points from the various tweets, statements and pressers have made it clear that the Liberals are doing this to cut out the black market, and to ensure that Canadian kids have a harder time getting their hands on it. In other words, nothing the Liberals have done or said in the last two and a half years have indicated they would be treating the issue of cannabis legalization with anything other than a “think of the children” vantage point.
This was especially clear during the press conference to announce the regime wherein the Liberals making the announcement looked more like they were attending a lecture on how to remove your own intestinal polyps than fulfilling a much-anticipated campaign promise.
The Liberals were never going to make this about the adult consumer, or about the advocates who have been fighting the absurdity of cannabis prohibition on the front lines. No, this was always about trying to do the bare minimum in order to fulfill a campaign promise. And that is perfectly fine, but we should be honest about it.
Appointing Anne McLellan as chair of the task force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, making former Toronto top cop Bill Blair the point man on the file, and refusing to consider amnesty for those whose lives have been ruined by a criminal conviction for a substance that poses significantly less of a health risk than tobacco were all indications that the Liberal approach was only going to be welcomed by politically connected and well financed licensed producers and your elderly neighbour, Carol.
But what’s done is done. The Liberals announced their framework this summer and now the remainder of the regime is up to the provinces. Ontario is the first province to officially propose its own plans on how it will regulate the sale and distribution of cannabis.