Conservatives Attack Liberals Over Marijuana Decriminalization

CANNABIS CULTURE – Conservative Members of Parliament criticized Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff during Question Period in the Canadian House of Commons over comments he made last week in support of marijuana decriminalization.

At a stop on his cross-country Open Mike tour last week, Ignatieff said that his party has plans to reintroduce legislation that would eliminate criminal penalties for possession of under 15 grams of cannabis and replace them with fines.

Conservative MPs and the Minister of Justice responded on Friday with the same tired Conservative rhetoric and fear-mongering about the dangers of drugs we’ve all heard so many times before.

“Monday’s open mike night in in Montreal hosted by the leader of the opposition shows just how out of touch he is with Canadians,” Blaine Calkins, Conservative MP for Wetaskiwin, Alberta said. “During the event he committed to reintroduce the bill to decriminalized marijuana for recreational use but made no mention of what he would do to combat the serious drug traffickers and producers that threaten the safety of our communities.”

He asked Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson to address Ignatieff’s comments.

“The Government of Canada does not support the decriminalization of marijuana in this country,” Nicholson told the House.

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Abbotsford MP Ed Fast also stood and added his comments.

“The Liberal leader offers very few solutions when it comes to getting tough on crime,” Fast said. “He panders to the drug users rather than joining our government in getting tough on traffickers and producers of drugs.”

Other Conservative MPs including Richard Harris (Cariboo—Prince George), Shelly Glover (Saint Boniface), and Jacques Gourde (Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière) attacked the Liberal plan during Statements by Members. Click here to read the full Hansard transcript.

Members of the Liberal Party did not respond to Conservative statements in Question Period or afterwards. Calls by this reporter to the Liberal Party press department and Micheal Ignatieff’s office for a statement have not been returned.

The Liberal Party, who have backed various attempts to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in the past, seemed to change their tune recently when party MPs and Senators backed and passed Conservative anti-drug legislation C-15, which included mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana offences. Luckily, the bill was killed when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives prorogued Parliament and it did not become law.

The same legislation came back this year in the form of Bill S-10, and activists were worried that the Liberals may again fall into line and support this new dangerous legislation that would give mandatory 9-month sentences for growing as few as 6 cannabis plants, and give mandatory 18-month sentences to anyone who bakes and shares pot cookies, hash, or other extracts.

Some marijuana activists were relieved after reading Ignatieff’s recent comments about decriminalization, though some suspect it may be a covert attempt to increase enforcement.

Whatever it may be, the plan is notably better than the Conservative plans for our Justice System, which would see scores of medical marijuana users and young Canadians locked away in expensive new prisons.

When it comes to progressive drug policy reform, Canada has definitely fallen behind its southern neighbour, or parts of it, at least. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill last week that FULLY decriminalizes possession of under one ounce of marijuana in the state, and in November, citizens will vote on Proposition 19, a ballot proposition to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.

Now is the time for pressure: Contact Liberal Party Leader Michael Ignatieff and (politely) tell him that you support the FULL decriminalization or legalization of marijuana, but won’t stand for sneaky, back-door legislation that may lead to increased enforcement – Email: [email protected] or call (613) 995-9364 for his office in Ottawa.

In related House of Commons/cannabis news, medpot activist Sam Mellace sparked a joint in the House of Commons on Monday to protest Canada’s medical marijuana rules.

“My wife can’t smoke her medication because she has lung cancer, so I make the butter and smoothies,” Mellace told the press. “It’s ridiculous to think that I could go to jail for easing my wife’s suffering.”

Find out more about the dangerous Bill S-10 at