Will the legalization of pot become an election issue? Stay tuned. We see a closeup of purple gloved hand reaching into the middle of a green marijuana pant.

Will the legalization of pot become an election issue? Stay tuned.
Photo Credit: cbc.ca

Conservative leader Stephen Harper ramps up Canada’s marijuana debate

Stephen Harper has turned up the heat in the long-running battle between people who support the legalization of marijuana and his Conservative Party.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper made a campaign stop at the Vancouver shipyards on Wednesday, a day after he announced an increase of funding for the RCMP to target marijuana grow-ups and meth labs. It's a good photo-op shot. We see Harper dressed in a dark suit, an ultra-white dress shirt and blue tie, which mostly hidden by a pair of microphones. He waves with his right hand as we view the city's skyline behind him.
Conservative leader Stephen Harper made a campaign stop at the Vancouver shipyards on Wednesday, a day after he announced an increase of funding for the RCMP to target marijuana grow-ups and meth labs. © CP Photo/Sean Kilpatrick

Legalization, Harper said on Tuesday is the “wrong direction for society.”

He also promised if he is re-elected prime minister that he would increase funding to help the RCMP target marijuana grow-ops and meth labs by 20 per cent.

Observers say he was doing two things: playing to his socially-conservative base and taking a swipe at Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who favours legalizing marijuana.

The country remains divided on the issue, but Harper might be swimming up stream on this issue.

Last year an Ipsos-Reid public opinion poll for the Department of Justice found that about 37 per cent of Canadians believe marijuana should be legalized and 33 per cent said possession of small amounts of marijuana should be decriminalized with a fine.

That’s 70 per cent of the population who don’t back Harper’s hardline approach.

Gonzo Nieto is co-chair of a national alliance called the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy. We see a young man in his 20s with close-cropped brown hair wearing a navy blue sports jacket and a jean-type shirt buttoned to the top of his neck. His head slightly tilted downwards, he looks at the camera from dark brown eyes and the hint of a beard.
Gonzo Nieto is co-chair of a national alliance called the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy. © Courtesy: Gonzo Nieto

Other notable figures: about 14 per cent of those surveyed said marijuana laws should stay the same, and 12 per cent said marijuana penalties should increase.

Finally, 52.6 per cent said they believed marijuana use would “stay about the same” if legalized, while 38.4 per cent said it would increase.

For some perspective, RCI contacted Gonzo Nieto.

Nieto graduated last October from Montreal’s Concordia University with a degree in psychology & behavioural neuroscience.

He is co-chairman of  Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a nationwide alliance that lobbies for drug reform.

He spoke by phone from Montreal.

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5 comments on “Conservative leader Stephen Harper ramps up Canada’s marijuana debate
  1. *Marijuana is far more than just a Yes / No answer
    All candidates should discuss these issues on video. I got a camcorder and a youtube account. Those against pot will display their ignorance for all to see

    *Marijuana makes you stupid.
    Tell Shakespeare and Carl Sagan and innumerable others that have been muzzled by “the law”

    *Pot is a performance enhancer
    NFL 2002 rushing leader Ricky Williams said “pot to him was like spinach to PopEye”

    *THC is a dangerous obnoxious chemical
    It has been used throughout pre history. In any other time it would be considered the Cinderella molecule.

    *Marijuana has been our largest cash crop for decades.
    The money gets laundered through banks, realestate, gold, forged art and antiques ….

    *Legalization will create tens of thousands of jobs
    No those jobs will be taken from the heroes of this movement from growers thru sellers.

    *Taxes can be used for schools and social services.
    Nope there will be little taxes when people can grow their own. Pot is easier to grow than tomatoes

    *Marijuana is harmful to the brains of Youths
    A lie: No study has ever confirmed this. Pot has been studied ad-nauseam, obviously the reverse is true.

    *Marijuana is a gateway drug
    Wrong! If that were the case we would have far more Heroin and Coke users

    *Marijuana puts money in the hands of Criminals
    Only because it is against the law. Sellers get robbed because of it being illegal. Police constantly pilfer marijuana from evidence rooms

    *Marijuana plant has many more valuable uses
    True! Per acre it produces 4 times as much fiber than does trees. The list goes on and on.

    *The Govt, Media and education systems lie about pot.
    True they must be extremely naive or brainwashed to believe their lies.

    *Marijuana makes one paranoid
    Nope! The thought of jail time

  2. Trip-C says:

    If you don’t like Cannabis… you’re not going to like the future. Aside from numerous medical benefits, the industrial and environmental uses are astounding. Industrial is there money is, but it won’t go to those already established, it will go to the common man and that SCARES the hell out of those in charge. GOOD LUCK HARPER you’re going to need it.

  3. Mike Parent says:

    We’d all be better off if the police would focus on crimes that have actual victims.
    Does anyone, other than those who pad their pockets from prohibition, honestly believe that wasting Money and arresting people for a victimless crime, for choosing a substance scientifically proven to be safer than what the govt allows, is a sound policy?

    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/55cb6f53e4b0923c12bed78d?
    Dr Carl Hart

  4. anon says:

    harpers too old fashioned to be governing, what retirement home did this man get his degree from??

  5. Jean says:

    Harper has to go!

    Criminalizing folks who use cannabis is wrong, and it has to stop.

    Cannabis is non toxic.

    Thanks to CBC, Mr. Haig and Mr. Nieto for that breath of fresh air…