Jack Layton, leader of Canada’s federal New Democratic Party, spoke to Marc Emery about his strong support for legal marijuana in an October 26 interview on Pot-TV.
The New Democratic Party (NDP), is Canada’s fourth largest political party, and Canada’s only major federal party with a formal policy to support legal marijuana.
The NDP currently have 14 seats in Canada’s federal Parliament. The most outspoken MP on drug issues has been the NDP’s Libby Davies, the member for Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
In his 20 minute interview with Emery, Layton was very explicit in his support for ending the war on cannabis. At one point, Layton called marijuana a “wonderful substance.”
“Do you think anybody should go to jail for having anything to do with marijuana,” asked Emery, “whether it’s selling, buying, growing, or any of those things?”
Layton responded “No, I don’t.”
“There’s millions of Canadians who have tried or are using marijuana, either regularly or from time to time,” added Layton. “They don’t consider themselves criminals, and neither do their friends, neighbors or family members.”
Layton said that the NDP are “in favour of modernizing Canada’s marijuana laws, and creating a legal environment where people can enjoy their marijuana in the peace and quiet of their own home, or in a cafe, without having to worry about being criminalized.”
Layton couldn’t spell out the specifics of the NDP’s proposals to legalize marijuana in Canada. But he assured Pot-TV viewers that it would be a part of a comprehensive update to the NDP platform, which would appear on their website “in the next two or three months.”
Layton pointed out that, during the NDP’s last leadership convention, every leadership candidate had expressed support for liberalizing Canada’s cannabis laws. “This is pretty engrained in our party,” said Layton.
Layton also criticized the Liberal government’s proposals to “decriminalize” cannabis possession without allowing people to grow or purchase the herb. Layton said that the NDP supported a system “that allows people to consume marijuana, particularly marijuana they might grow themselves, but also for there to be some sort of technique that allows them to purchase it safely, knowing what the quality is, knowing what’s there, and to have that all be a legal activity.”
When Emery pressed Layton for specifics, Layton said that his party was still “thinking through” the details, adding that “we’re certainly open to advice.”
During the interview, Layton also mentioned that, during his father’s army days, his dad’s best friend had been Gerry LeDain, who went on to be appointed by Pierre Trudeau to a Royal Commission study on marijuana in the early 1970’s. Layton pointed out that the LeDain commission had recommended decriminalization of marijuana 30 years ago, but that there had been no action on the part of successive governments.
“There’s a federal election in Canada next April or May,” said Emery, after the interview. “This election will be very pivotal for the cannabis community. I urge all Canadians who support cannabis reform to contact the NDP, find out what Libby Davies has been up to in Parliament, and consider joining their party to fight for an end to Canada’s drug war.”
* Watch the Jack Layton interview on Pot-TV: www.pot-tv.net/shows/2271
* Canada’s New Democratic Party: tel 613-236-3613; www.ndp.ca
* About Jack Layton: www.ndp.ca/leader/index.php3?language=english
* Email Jack Layton: [email protected]