Pubdate: Tue, 11 Mar 2014
Source: Western Star, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2014 The Western Star
Author: Neil Godbout
Page: 4


An editorial from the Prince George Citizen, published March 7:

It's comical to watch the federal Conservatives trip over themselves
when it comes to their stance on marijuana.

On Wednesday, Tom (not his real name), a 65-year-old Prince George man
who has been growing his own pot for medical purposes for the past
three years, said he will follow the law on April 1 if the government
goes ahead with its plans to take away his licence. He won't, however,
turn to government-approved operators that produce a more expensive
and less potent legal medical marijuana, he says. He'll just go to a
street supplier to satisfy his needs.

Meanwhi le, federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay said Wednesday his
party is thinking about introducing a bill that would allow police to
ticket people caught with a small amount of pot, instead of laying

Just that basic move is long overdue. Police chiefs across Canada,
along with members of the Conservative caucus, have been calling for
such legislation for years.

So, on one hand, the feds want to liberalize pot possession laws for
recreational tokers whose purchases support organized crime but, on
the other hand, they're going to crack the whip on 37,000 law-abiding
Canadians like Tom who have licences to grow pot in their home to help
with their medical conditions.

"We're not talking about decriminalization or legalization," MacKay
said in defence of his about-face. "The Criminal Code would still be
available to police, but we would look at options that would give
police the ability, much like the treatment of open liquor ... to
ticket those types of offences."

That's an interesting analogy to use. MacKay is comparing ticketing
marijuana - a substance that is illegal to possess - with ticketing
booze, which is legal to possess. The minister is undercutting his own
argument opposing the decriminalization and/or legalization of marijuana.

Some Conservatives are more pragmatic in their politics. For them,
marijuana use is a personal and adult decision. As long as it's not
happening around children or being sold to teenagers and as long as
folks high on weed aren't driving, what's the problem? Furthermore,
marijuana provides real benefits to people like Tom, who uses pot to
manage anxiety and help him sleep after he beat throat cancer three
years ago.

It should be noted that Tom doesn't smoke marijuana. Using the pot he
grows in his garage, he makes marijuana-infused butter for use in
cookie recipes. He eats one cookie each evening and insists he
wouldn't be alive today without medical marijuana.

Not only is he a responsible user, he's a responsible grower. Although
he's licenced to grow up to 25 plants, he only grows about half of
that or just enough to meet his personal needs. When he began his
legal grow operation, he set it up on a skid in his garage so he
wouldn't be damaging his home in any way.

He also brought in an electrical inspector to make sure there was no
risk of fire and checked with the city to see if he needed a building

Yet the majority of Conservatives continue to take a hard line on
marijuana, as if reefer madness will sweep the land if the public is
allowed access to it.

MacKay himself has frothed at the mouth about pot, accusing Liberal
leader Justin Trudeau, who supports the legalization of marijuana for
adults, of encouraging kids to smoke pot because he shared his views
on the topic when asked by students at an Ontario high school. Trudeau
doesn't condone kids smoking pot and neither does Tom.

"I recommend it for seniors but I don't recommend it for young
people," he told The Citizen during an interview last year.

If the Conservatives suddenly believe that possessing a small amount
of pot is only worth a ticket, instead of jail time, they should be
willing to accept people like Tom having a small supply of marijuana
and plants in their homes to manage their health under doctors orders.
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