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An Overview of Cannabis Legalization Driving Politicians Insane

We always knew Canada’s plan to legalize adult-use recreational cannabis would come with some challenges, from police forces decrying their impending under-preparedness to government ad campaigns warning about the dangers of driving high. But thus far, the primary fallout of the push for legalization has been the strange, situational delusion that’s gripped a number of Canadian politicians, who’ve been driven to argue against legalization via the most astounding pronouncements. Call it Reefer Madness 2.0.

Ron Orr, a provincial politician for Alberta, claimed that cannabis legalization could lead to a communist revolution. Seriously.

It all started in July 2017, when Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu rose in the House of Commons. “We have already established that this legislation would put marijuana in the hands of children,” said Gladu. “Not just with the 15 joints that 12-year-olds can have, but with the four plants per household.”

Gladu was likely referring to the fact that the new bill does not criminalize youth for possessing up to 5 grams of marijuana—though the assumption that a mere five grams equals 15 joints is a fantasia in its own right. More importantly, what’s the alternative? Does Ms. Gladu actually believe that 12-year-olds should be arrested and treated to the criminal justice system for being caught with a joint?

Gladu followed up with a widely mocked remark about the accessibility dangers of homegrown cannabis: “So Little Johnny can put some in the toaster oven and smoke it up.” The remark took the Canadian cannabis Twitterverse by storm, inspiring the hashtag #Toasterbud and widespread mockery.

The Leafly 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Last month, the anti-cannabis rhetoric really heated up. Ron Orr, a provincial politician for Alberta under the United Conservative Party banner, claimed that marijuana legalization could lead to a communist revolution. Seriously.

Orr said that there were “historical parallels” between cannabis legalization and the Communist Cultural Revolution.“Yes, opium smoking, like marijuana, was a fashionable refined pastime especially among the young – but I’ll tell you something, it doesn’t lead to the good life.”

Conservative MP Peter Kent stood up in the House to compare home-grown cannabis with the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl.

Usually the “gateway theory” implicates cannabis for leading consumers to harder drugs, but to communism? That’s a new one.

The lunacy didn’t stop there. Later in November, Conservative MP Peter Kent stood up in the House to compare home-grown cannabis with the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl.

“When it’s legal, despite the allowable age to consume, kids are going to harvest leaves, kids are going to experiment,” said Kent. “I think what we’re doing is virtually the same as putting fentanyl on a shelf within reach of kids. Having plants in the homes is just as wacky, it’s just as unacceptable, and just as dangerous.”

Never mind that fentanyl overdoses kill hundreds of Canadians a year while no one in the history of the world has ever died from a cannabis overdose—Kent’s apparently uninterested in facts. After Vice released its story “This Conservative Politician Said Weed is Just as Deadly as Fentanyl,” Kent labelled the article “yellow journalism” and tweeted that he was not making a “chemical comparison…it’s about potentially fatal risk to kids.” (Again, fentanyl kills hundreds annually and cannabis has killed no one ever, so keep digging, Mr. Kent.)

The day after Kent’s fentanyl comparisons, the Conservative Member of Parliament Dave Vankesteren stood up in the House to claim cannabis would “enslave our youth” and turn the government into “the new pusher on the block.” Vankersteren’s claims were soon after challenged in the MP’s local newspaper, the Chatham Daily News, in which the municipality’s medical officer of health sanely noted that cannabis was already widely available to youth, and that the new law wouldn’t be as detrimental as Vankesteren claimed.

Perhaps the pinnacle of Reefer Madness 2.0 came on December 1, when the aforementioned MP Marilyn “Toaster Oven” Gladu recited an original anti-cannabis poem for her colleagues in the House.

I want to protest an ill-thought-out bill

that is passing through Parliament here on the Hill.

The bill that is bad is called C-45.

It has so many flaws it just should not survive.

The Grits will allow four pot plants in each dwelling,

regardless of how bad each place will be smelling.

I’ll save you from the rest of the rhymes (which can be experienced in full, straight from the Gladu’s mouth, here).

Unsure of what to make of all these boisterous cannabis claims, I reached out to Craig Jones, the Executive Director of NORML Canada, who provided a quick comment.

“Unfortunately, we will always have fearmongers to contend with,” Jones tells me. “Fortunately, they will always be wrong.”

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Harrison Jordan

Harrison Jordan is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto and enjoys reading and writing about the regulatory affairs of cannabis in Canada and around the world.

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