Pot Calling the Kettle “Trudeau”
Nicole Halseth, News Editor
So it seems that Liberal leader and MP Justin Trudeau is ‘one of us.’ Or at least, one of the nearly 40% of ‘us’ in Canada who have dabbled with marijuana at least once. Openly admitting he has smoked pot after becoming an MP, though only “five or six times” in his lifetime, has resulted in immediate backlash from members of the Conservative party, among others. When asked, Prime Minister Stephen Harper responded that these actions “speak for themselves,” while Justice Minister Peter MacKay publicly questioned Trudeau’s ability to lead Canada and declared he sets a “poor example” for all and especially youths. However, it seems not all sectors of society are willing to condemn the man for his actions, as high profile celebrity and human rights spokesman George Takei was quick to praise Trudeau for his bold admission.
Trudeau himself is unapologetic over smoking pot, and has taken it one step further. In July, Trudeau announced that pot is one of the major issues dealt with in his new policy plans, and supports full legalization of the substance. This is an upgrade from his previous stance of just decriminalization. Stating that “the current model is not working” in regards to the war on drugs, Trudeau believes it is more important now to tax and regulate it in order to ensure social progress is being made.
One of Trudeau’s main arguments towards the legalization of marijuana is the pressure it puts on the legal systems, and the associated costs. Currently, hundreds of thousands of people have incurred criminal records for possession and/or use of marijuana. These near 500,000 records may result in barriers to future travel, employment and citizenship, while additionally costing law enforcement almost $500 million per annum. The Liberal Party is explicit in its resolution to “understand the need to consider ending the prohibition of marijuana and addressing the root causes of crime to see real results,” as is seen on their website. Other solutions directed towards taking the pressure off law enforcement and minimizing the impact on citizens caught with marijuana include more “enforcement options,” such as ticketing. Arguments against the legalization of marijuana in the past have been numerous. After Trudeau’s announcement in July, the Conservatives posted on their official website that pot has harmful effects on its users and society as a whole, and that legalizing it would be against the interests of Canadian families. Another main argument put forth put forth by the Conservatives is that legalizing pot may make it more readily available to youths.
Individual opinions aside, the legalization of marijuana would have plenty of impacts on Prince George, and in the UNBC community as a whole. Aside from the obvious, this action would have direct effects on the level and severity of crime in Prince George, as well as local finances and debt. It would also impact public perceptions and social interactions. As youth and young adults are a significant proportion of users and first time users of pot, legalization would also impact students across Canada. Whether these potential impacts would be negative or positive remains to be seen, though that they would be seen and most likely felt is almost certain. For more information on what to expect should Canadians legalize marijuana, we could possibly look to the examples set by other countries, such as the Netherlands, who have already been dealing with the aftereffects of legalizing marijuana. Pot legalization may be one of the key political issues in our very near future. It will be interesting to see if this stance of total and complete honesty will be something we can expect from Trudeau throughout his run in politics, and if this will be a help or hindrance to him in the next federal election.