Pubdate: Thu, 08 Oct 2015
Source: Frontenac Gazette, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 Metroland Media Group
Author: Craig Bakay


The first question at last week's Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston candidates
debate in Sydenham, asked by host/moderator Jeff Green, was "name one
issue where you differ from your party platform."

Strangely enough, for three of the four candidates, it was on
marijuana reform. Two of them wanted to see their party go further
towards complete legalization while one wasn't so sure legalization
was the best option, despite her party's stated intention.

"I'm truly comfortable with the NDP platform," said candidate John
Fenik. "But one thing I would speak up on in caucus is the
legalization of marijuana (the NDP's policy is decriminalization,
study and go from there).

"Keeping it illegal hasn't stopped its use and has led to the
formation of crime empires (and) there is evidence that medical
marijuana has health benefits for many who are ill."

"I'm also comfortable with the Green Party Platform," said Anita
Payne. "But there is one thing I have a bit of an issue with - the
Green Party wants to legalize marijuana but (as a former high school
teacher) I'm concerned how it will be done.

"Young brains are adversely affected by marijuana and you probably
can't make legal age any higher than 18.

"However, legalizing it would have one big advantage in that we could
regulate its strength and distribution."

"Like John and Anita, I differ with my party on the legalization of
marijuana," said Scott Reid. (The Conservative stance has been the
status quo - OK for medical use but not for 'recreation.') "Cigarettes
and alcohol are just as dangerous as marijuana and they're legal.

"When we tried to eliminate alcohol from society many years ago it was
a huge disaster, leading to the formation of criminal empires and it's
been the same with marijuana.

"I don't think the legal age has to be 18, it could be 21 and I would
want it to be a severely criminally punishable offence for selling or
providing it to young people."

Liberal candidate Phil Archambault was the lone rebel on the

He said he didn't "have any big concern" with any of his party's
platform but "I will advocate for 42 amendments to Bill C-51 (Canada's
recently enacted, controversial anti-terrorism law)."

After the debate, when asked for his thoughts on marijuana reform,
Archambault said that while he wished no kids would smoke marijuana,
he did see a need to regulate its use more effectively.

"It's a question of security, to get organized crime out of it and
it's a question of quality," he said. "There are all sorts of things
being added to marijuana to increase its potency and that's scary.

"If we're able to control and regulate it, it will be easier to
monitor and from a public health standpoint, that's a no-brainer, as
is to re-invest any money the government gets from it into education."
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