Vancouver Liberals Play Host to Panel on Marijuana Legalization

CANNABIS CULTURE – The Federal Liberal Riding Association of Vancouver East hosted an event on marijuana legalization last weekend featuring speakers critical of Canada’s Drug War and new Conservative laws regarding cannabis.

Hosted by Vancouver East Riding Association president Mark Elyas, the speakers panel included Liberal MP candidate for Vancouver East Roma Ahi, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Canada‘s Steve Finlay, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition director Donald MacPherson, and Cannabis Culture publisher Jodie Emery.

The panel, held at the Hasting Community Centre on March 31, comes just weeks after the Federal Liberal party overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution calling for the legalization and regulation of marijuana, and just days after comments were made by Liberal Leader Bob Rae slamming new conservative drug laws.

View a photo gallery or watch videos of the event below. Photos by Jeremiah Vandermeer.

Roma Ahi

Liberal MP candidate for Vancouver East Roma Ahi discussed a new study and calls from senior Canadian provincial health officers to end the drug war.

“Marijuana itself is not necessarily free from it’s harm,” she said, “but reviews do suggest that it is less harmful than tobacco and alcohol, as well as a lot of pharmaceutical drugs that are currently out there being prescribed. We’re all sort of aware of the continuous widespread availability of cannabis as well as the crime and violence that exists from the prohibition of this drug. There is a need for a strong discussion about what will be the best practice or … ‘an optimal regulatory strategy so that we can reduce harms of cannabis use while also reducing unintended policy-attributable consequences’.”

Watch the video on YouTube

Steve Finlay

Steve Finlay of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Canada spoke about the dangers and futility of prohibition from a policing perspective.

“LEAP’s position is not that marijuana should be legalized because it is safer than alcohol or because it has medicinal benefits,” he said. “Even though those things are true, that’s not LEAP’s position. LEAP’s position is that marijuana should be legalized because prohibition is a terrible policy.”

Watch Part 1
Watch Part 2
Watch Part 3

Donald MacPherson

Donald MacPherson, former Vancouver drug policy coordinator and current director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, discussed his group’s mission and latest studies, and pointed to the successes of other countries that have implemented progressive drug strategies.

“We need to move beyond this blanket prohibition of drugs,” he said, “and move towards a public-health approach to respond to people who have problems with drugs. … [Other] countries are moving away of criminalization of people who use drugs.”

Watch Part 1
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Jodie Emery

Princess of Pot Jodie Emery, CEO of CCHQ and former Green Party candidate, talked about the expanding prison industry and the Conservative government’s push for privatized prisons in Canada.

“The government says that their goal is to go after the gangs and make the streets and communities safe – they are not going to do that with these policies,” she said. “In fact these policies they’re pushing are proven to do the opposite. And again, what is the goal then? If they’re spending so much money, repeatedly, despite all the evidence showing it’s a waste, then why does it continue? … There is big money involved in marijuana prohibition. There is really big money, and not just in the pockets of the gangsters and not even just in law enforcement.”

Watch Part 1
Watch Part 2

Jeremiah Vandermeer is editor of Cannabis Culture. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



  1. Anonymous on

    You can blah blah blah as much as you want,the worst prohibitionists alive today are stephen harper and barack obama.They are responsible for the violence but they dont give a damn because the police protect them.

  2. Russ Miller on

    The Liberals are doing that now! We are holding events, creating new partnerships and are the ones to successfully take this important issue into the political mainstream. I’d say that’s walking the talk!

  3. guitarod on

    The Liberals talk the talk but will they stick their necks out and walk the walk come election time. Cannabis Prohibition should not just be an election issue, it should be a human rights issue. Democracy still takes a backseat when the majority of Canadians disapprove with current drug policy laws.

  4. malcolm kyle on

    Not only did alcohol Prohibition in the 1920s increase usage it also exacerbated all other related problems while bootleggers, just like many of our present day drug lords, became rich and powerful folk heroes as a result.

    “It has made potential drunkards of the youth of the land, not because intoxicating liquor appeals to their taste or disposition, but because it is a forbidden thing, and because it is forbidden makes an irresistible appeal to the unformed and immature.”

    — That was part of the testimony of Judge Alfred J Talley, given before the Senate Hearings on Alcohol Prohibition in 1926:

    And the following paragraphs are from WALTER E. EDGE’s testimony, a Senator from New Jersey:

    “Any law that brings in its wake such wide corruption in the public service, increased alcoholic insanity, and deaths, increased arrests for drunkenness, home barrooms, and development among young boys and young women of the use of the flask never heard of before prohibition can not be successfully defended.”.

    And here is Julien Codman’s testimony, who was a member of the Massachusetts bar.

    ” has been a pitiable failure; that it has failed to prevent drinking; that it has failed to decrease crime; that, as a matter of fact, it has increased both; that it has promoted bootlegging and smuggling to an extent never known before”.

    Here are the main paragraphs from the address of His Eminence, Cardinal Dougherty, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, to the Catholic societies of the Archdiocese on New Year’s Day 1931:

    “Having heard the report on behalf of the members of the Total Abstinence Society, it occurs to me to say that when the law prohibiting alcoholic drink was passed, many thought that there would be no further need for our temperance or total-abstinence societies. Hence the practice of giving a pledge against intoxicating liquors to boys and girls at Confirmation was discontinued. There seemed to be no need of it.”

    “But, unfortunately. Prohibition has not performed the miracles that were expected. According to experts, such as judges, public officials, social service workers, and others, there is as much, perhaps even more, drunkenness and intemperance today than before the passage of the Volstead Act.”

    “When in the past did we see young men and women of respectable families carrying a flask of liquor when going to social events? When did we see young girls, not yet of age, drinking in public, perhaps to excess, cocktails and the strongest kind of intoxicating liquors, and perhaps being overcome by them? That, today, is not an uncommon sight.”

  5. highman on

    hell no. NDP 2015