King size marijuana joints kept our End Prohibition cannabis crew going through four rounds of NDP leadership voting.
We didn’t get our candidate MP Peggy Nash as leader, but our policy meetings were well-attended affairs with political staffers, politicians and members blazing on our potent political ideas. These sessions have become a normal part of attending New Democratic Party conventions – I’ve attended federal conventions in Vancouver, Halifax and Quebec City.
We have given political breathing room for leadership candidates like MP Niki Ashton, who has an exciting future with the NDP, to proclaim during her nationalized televised speech, “I’m in favor of modernizing our country’s drug laws.”
“Did she just say, ‘I’m in favor of modernizing our country’s drug laws?'” A startled End Prohibition director Dana Larsen asked me. We were sitting in MP Peggy Nash bleachers participating in spontaneous bouts of chanting. “Yes, she did!” I excitedly replied.
At 29 years-old, most members didn’t think Niki Ashton was ready to be Canada’s next prime minister – she’d win if it was reality television. MP Ashton received an impressive five per cent vote; not enough to get through to the second round of balloting.
Our choice fared well in fourth, but not as expected. The charismatic MP Nathan Cullen, who had the best speech and cutest children, topped MP Nash for third place, with Brian Topp second and MP Tom Mulcair taking the top spot.
During second round voting, End Prohibition held numerous planning sessions outside. These gave us an opportunity to relax, pass around ideas, and theorize about potential outcomes. We allowed anyone into our circle regardless of who they supported. Though few people sported Tom Mulcair buttons or scarves around us in early balloting.
“I thought Peggy was going to do a lot better,” Larsen explained after round one. She ran her west coast campaign out of End Prohibition office space. It’d take a Fighter, Builder, Leader to slug it out to victory, because MP Nash would have to take third to continue onward. She didn’t.
The MP from Parkdale-High Park and MP Ashton are our kind of leaders. They require our support to continue their great work. Obviously we would want them to be leading the NDP, but to do so requires people to become involved. End Prohibition has gained much respect within NDP ranks for our persistent mostly polite efforts at politicking.
It’s taken an effort of money and time, but New Democrats have warmed up to the weedy. They’re no longer hiding in corners afraid to smoke their joints, but with us where people smoke cigarettes. Going one step further I openly rolled joints inside where members could see. One offering to “keep six,” but I politely informed, “Not too worry I’m legal.” A Member of Parliament stopped to chat with me while I twisted.
Walking into the convention hall after a session, someone proclaimed very loudly walking by me in the opposite direction, “Smells like someone is smoking some dope in here!” To wit I replied back in his general direction, “It’s me, brother! I’m a legal medical marijuana member.”
I’m not about to chuck my extensive efforts because our new leader MP Tom Mulcair has a slight difference of opinion on marijuana and made a boneheaded comment. Maybe his proposed study on marijuana is to figure out how to install some kind of tax and regulate system so people know THC strengths and strains. He supports Insite, opposed mandatory minimums and even agreed to have his photo taken with your Cannabis Champion of the World after he became leader.
At this point in the night I was danking of the dank something fierce. In a stinking up the streetcar kind of way – Mulcair could not have missed the smell of the beautiful bud on me. Recognizing our efforts, people who worked on his campaign will continue to lobby and work with MP Mulcair to learn him. He immediately announced MP Libby Davies would remain deputy leader and she’s openly opposed to prohibition.
It’s not the outcome we wanted, but that’s the game. I’m going to remain persistent in working towards ensuring New Democrats are educated about prohibition in an effort to have our policy ideas passed. In April I’ll be attending Ontario New Democrat Party convention in Hamilton to work on our Cannabis Control Board of Ontario resolution, passed by the disability committee and St. Catharines riding association (my own of Davenport met too late).
“To our persistency.” Dana Larsen and I toasted at the end of night.
Cannabis Champion of the World Matt Mernagh is an NDP member and a regular contributor to Cannabis Culture. He’s also the only man in Canada legally allowed to grow marijuana without a medical licence. Read Matt’s blog on CC.