Green Party Candidates Campaign Against Prohibition

Throughout Canada, Green Party of Canada candidates are using serious amounts of time at all-candidates meetings, which are being hotly debated throughout Canada, to promote the Green Party position of legalization.
It was covered in three newspapers today on Jan. 13. In Saanich-Gulf Islands, the Green Party candidate Andrew Lewis vigorously challenged the other 3 candidates on cannabis policy and explained in detail the Green policy.

The same night in Kamloops, the Green Party candidate raised the issue in detail too. In Ottawa-Vanier, the Green Party
candidate pressed the other 3 on the issue. News reports in all
three communities centred on the cannabis policy discussed at the candidates meeting. The Greens have found their issue, and it is prohibition!

Legalize, medicalize drugs
By Markus Ermisch
Jan 13 2006
Kamloops This Week

Conservatives, Liberals and New Democrats shoot rifles with bent barrels when it comes to their stance on gun control, argues local Green party candidate Matthew Greenwood.

The Liberals? gun registry and their proposed handgun ban are ?making things a little difficult for gun owners, even for farmers,? argues the Thompson Rivers University student, who is just completing his degree in economics and political science.

Matthew Greenwood in KamloopsMatthew Greenwood in KamloopsThe Conservatives, on the other hand, use a heavy-handed law and order approach, want to lock people up and ?throw away the key,? according to Greenwood, adding that the NDP emphasizes a soft approach by including youth centres as part of the solution to curbing gun violence.

?But [gun]violence comes out of organized crime and the illegal drug trade,? Greenwood said. ?So the most reasonable solution is to cut gangs and remove the lucrative drug trade.?
In other words: Legalize drugs and implement harm reduction programs, such as safe-injection sites.

Legalizing drugs, Greenwood said, would ?be a huge new source of revenue for the government. In B.C., the No. 1 industry is pot, and it?s illegal.? Soft drugs like marijuana should certainly be legalized, whereas hard drugs should be ?medicalized,? which, Greenwood said, means to provide them cleanly and safely.

And if crime loses its major source of revenue once drugs are legalized, gun violence will drop accordingly, Greenwood said. ?This is the least ideologically driven solution,? he said. ?It would reduce gang violence.?

It?s as easy as understanding the basics of the laws of supply and demand, Greenwood said, arguing that other parties haven?t come up with the same solution because of their ideological bias and consequent refusal to look at issues holistically.

?The other parties just deal with the symptoms,? Greenwood said. ?The Greens think that?s an approach doomed to failure.?


Marijuana question smokes out candidates
Friday, January 13, 2006
Maria Cook
The Ottawa Citizen

Among the questions raised at an Ottawa-Vanier all-candidates debate last night, one made the candidates blush: Have you ever smoked marijuana?

Raphael Thierrin in OttawaRaphael Thierrin in Ottawa?Do I have judicial protection in this room?? asked Green party candidate Raphael Thierrin. ?I have smoked marijuana and I continue to smoke marijuana,? he declared, to laughter and applause. ?We think that decriminalizing marijuana will help prevent some crime.?

About 150 people attended the meeting at the University of Ottawa, which was organized by student groups. The questioner noted that hundreds of thousands of Canadians smoke marijuana, yet thousands each year are charged with possession and acquire a criminal record.

?Even though I was a former musician, I never smoked marijuana,? said NDP candidate Ric Dagenais. ?I don’t believe drugs have a place in my life. I have enough trouble without being under the influence. But certainly I appreciate that if that?s your choice, I think it should be decriminalized. There are more important issues to deal with.?

Conservative candidate Paul Benoit revealed that: ?I?m more of a drinker than a smoker.? But his answer on decriminalization was less clear cut. ?It?s a question of the stream,? he said. ?That?s the problem when you?re fighting crime. It?s not so much at the particular end use. From a crime prevention point of view, from a social point of view, you want to go further upstream and look at those problems there. And that’s what a Conservative government would try to address.?

As for Liberal incumbent Mauril Belanger, he chose to quote former Liberal health minister Allan Rock. ?I have never smoked marijuana for medicinal purposes.?

Mr. Belanger added: ?I believe we must at the very least decriminalize the use and possession of small quantities of marijuana.?

Marijuana party candidate Carol Taylor was not present.

Students also asked about international aid, the alienation of Muslim Canadians by anti-terrorism laws, Canadian troops in Afghanistan, the environment and, of course, tuition fees and student debt loads.

The four candidates promised that their parties would attempt to provide financial relief for post secondary education.


No surprises from candidates
January 11, 2006
By Laura Lavin
BC Peninsula News Review

There were no surprises in the federal all-candidates meeting last Thursday evening. Liberal candidate Sheila Orr began the opening statements and set the tone for the others singing the praises of her party?s leader Paul Martin. Conservative MP Gary Lunn hyped Stephen Harper, NDP candidate Jennifer Burgis promoted Jack Layton as leader, however Green Party candidate Andrew Lewis spoke of a crisis in leadership, without mentioning Green Party leader Jim Harris by name as an alternative.

All candidates were asked, ?What is your and your party?s position on the legalization of marijuana??

?I?m opposed,? answered Lunn. ?I think it?s the wrong message to send to our young people ? Marijuana, what does it lead to? Young people are trying marijuana, then they go on to cocaine or try crystal meth. I think it’s the wrong message to send to our young people, legalizing marijuana.?

Andrew Lewis with his childrenAndrew Lewis with his childrenAndrew asked a follow-up question of Lunn. ?Do I understand from your answer that you?re saying that marijuana is an entry level drug. That it leads to greater addictions?? he asked.

?Yes it does. It has the potential to do that. That?s what the experts have told me, police have also raised that [concern]. It?s a growing problem in our schools, children are starting to use [drugs]at a much younger age. I think we should be looking at programs to get kids active in other things and steer them away from drugs.?

Andrew posed the same question to Jennifer Burgis. ?I think it is time to decriminalize the use of marijuana. What really is a larger concern to us is the kind of billion dollar economy and trade that is underlying the trade in marijuana. If we can?t get a handle on where those dollars are and what kind of criminal trade they?re driving ? We need to define better what is happening in the drug community. To instantly link marijuana to crime in the drug trade is a pretty wide consideration,? Burgis answered.

?Are you then suggesting that the government should be in some way collecting revenue from marijuana usage?? Andrew asked Burgis.

?The government is trying to grow marijuana in a mineshaft in Manitoba and isn?t doing as good a job as they do in British Columbia. So I think there is a definite need to consider marijuana for medical usage and to allow our young people and even some of our older people to travel back and forth in North America without getting penalties for what they may have done around a small piece of marijuana ? I do condone the government selling marijuana for medical purposes,? she answered.

?We know prohibition has never worked,? said Lewis. ?The party position is that we should legalize the use of marijuana. It should be a controlled substance like tobacco and alcohol and it should be made available through liquor stores, perhaps. And the result is we will be able to reduce gun crime, we will be able to reduce gang violence, we would be able to reduce the drug trade, we would be able to get rid of grow-ops and we would use the profits for education and public health initiatives.?

?Are you saying that marijuana usage and growth is directly related to the gun crimes in this province?? Andrew asked.

?Absolutely, yes,? Lewis answered.

?I think that it?s being used for medicinal purposes anyway. It is being grown for that, legally for medicinal use,? said Orr. ?This is always a tough question for me because I?m used to being with kids on crystal meth ? people try to link these drugs together and really you shouldn?t. The legalization of marijuana would take a bunch of soft drugs and put it off the market and it would take some of the crime off the market. Now crime is actually on the hard drugs it?s not on the marijuana. I?m going to be honest with you, I find that a very tough question to answer. Personally, I actually think it should be legalized. I don?t have a problem with that.?

?I?m going to ask you the toughest one of the night,? Andrew said to Orr. ?Have you ever used marijuana??

?I was a hippie, and you know what, I never used it. I drank gin!?