Election Issues 2015: A Maclean’s Primer on Marijuana

If there is one file on which Justin Trudeau has definitively put his stamp as Liberal leader, it’s marijuana policy. Back in 2013, Trudeau surprised many by speaking out in favour of legalization and regulation, then admitted he “took a puff” on a joint being passed around at a dinner party at his Montreal home—after he was elected an MP in 2008. Ever since, Tories have taken aim at him over the stance. Pro-legalization advocates say criminalizing pot clogs prisons and feeds organized crime. Defenders of the status quo argue that legalization would only give young people, in particular, easier access to dangerous drugs.


Marijuana policy is powerfully polarizing, yet also less consequential than the pocketbook issues that are typically expected to drive votes. Its impact turns on Trudeau’s pro-legalization position. The Liberal leader hopes the issue will attract younger voters who appreciate bold policy. Tories will portray Trudeau’s stance as proof that his priorities are wrong and naive. The pot debate may have significant real-life consequences, but the symbolism is potent: old vs. new, experience vs. innovation, tough vs. soft.

– Read the entire article at Maclean’s.