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Justin Trudeau And The Great Pot Hypocrisy

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by James Di Fiore
bieber smokes joint

Back in January 2012 I interviewed a moustache-sporting, longhaired Justin Trudeau at the Liberal Party of Canada’s convention in Ottawa. Back in my hotel room where I was staying with 5 members of my team (we were hired by the outgoing Liberal president to create live content for the live stream broadcast), we had between us maybe a half-ounce of marijuana. For us — writers, designers and technical support people — it was pretty much the same thing as having a case of beer.

We spent that weekend interviewing much of the LPC upper brass, including former leaders Michael Ignatieff, Stephane Dion and former Prime Minister Paul Martin. Along with a fairly typical list of prepared questions, I had one inquiry I thought was most important, so I made sure I asked all of them the following question: Should marijuana be legalized in Canada?

At that time roughly 30 per cent of Liberal delegates supported ending marijuana prohibition. A few months before the convention, the party executive had contracted me to reach out to party delegates and supporters through third party marijuana advocacy groups. Our mission was to firebomb Liberal delegates with tweets and emails requesting they help pass a policy resolution to legalize marijuana.

By the time the convention commenced, my team had successfully executed our plan, making the marijuana resolution the most popular on the Liberal Party web site. We were hoping the 30 per cent support for legalization would balloon to at least 70 per cent, forcing the party’s leadership to make legalization a main plank in the party’s next election platform.

Bob Rae, then the interim Liberal leader, did not support legalization, nor did Dion. What many people might not know is that Trudeau, who would become leader just over a year after this convention, was also not for legalization. As he said to me during our interview, “I don’t know that it’s entirely consistent with the kind of society we’re trying to build.”

When the legalization policy initiative was voted on, 77 per cent of delegates chose legalization.

18 months later Trudeau announced in British Columbia, considered the Mecca of marijuana to potheads worldwide, that he and the Liberal Party would pursue legalization as one of their platform initiatives. And, mostly because I’m a freelance journalist and not part of a major media company, not many people knew he had flip-flopped on that issue.

But let’s give credit where credit is due: Trudeau flipped to the right side of the issue.

The illegalization of marijuana, a substance far less harmful than alcohol, has destroyed the lives of countless citizens, especially non whites who are busted more often than whites, and often sentenced longer for the same types of marijuana offences. When Trudeau’s Liberals won the 2015 election, many of us who were excited to be a country that would no longer foster a reefer madness policy towards pot users waited with baited breath for our new, hip PM to triumphantly declare an end to pot prohibition.

Also, and this is more key today than when he first made the admission, Trudeau himself had smoked pot since becoming an elected public servant. So when the Trudeau government finally announced, on April 20th no less, that the government would introduce legislation in the spring of 2017, many people breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, the ball was rolling.

But what about the way law enforcement approaches pot laws until the legislation is passed? Surely, given Trudeau’s own personal admission of smoking weed, there must be a decriminalization policy in the meantime, right?

Nope.

Trudeau, in a stunning piece of political theatre, stood up in the House of Commons and categorically refused to implement decriminalization, a refusal that will result in a continuation of unnecessary criminal records for a crime that won’t even be a crime in a couple years.

This is especially hypocritical given Trudeau’s past comments relating to his late brother Michel, who, at the time of his tragic death in 2003, was facing drug possession charges after police found a small amount of marijuana in his car after a traffic accident. Trudeau cited this incident as one of the factors that pushed him towards legalization, according to an interview he gave to the Huffington Post in 2013.

Clearly Trudeau felt that his brother should not have been subjected to a criminal record for such a benign offence, but for the thousands of soon-to-be offenders, he seems content with allowing their futures to be put at risk.

Trudeau has yet to explain this contradiction, mostly because our media seems unwilling to part ways with the types of stories people want to click on, like quantum computing sound bites, or clips of him at a boxing gym.

So, if you are a reporter for a major media outlet, let me offer up the right question for the next time you are part of a Trudeau press conference.

“Prime Minister Trudeau, you once said your late brother’s pending drug charges played a role in your decision to pursue an end to prohibition. Given that admission, and seeing as you yourself have smoked pot since becoming an elected official, how can you defend the decision to not decriminalize marijuana now, before your legalization legislation is adopted?”

Easy peasy.

Full disclosure, I had weed in my pocket when I interviewed Justin Trudeau in 2012. Given our mutual experiences in flouting the law and speaking out in support of decriminalization, I think Trudeau needs to rethink his current position, and once again flip flop in the right direction.

Hell, I’ll even send him something to help him brainstorm a way forward, if he needs it.

Article source Huffington Post

Prince of Pot for Trudeau

Justin Trudeau acting PM

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Crackdown Gets Priorities All Wrong

By Quito Maggi

Mayor Tory Prime minister Trudeau

We recently learned that Toronto Mayor John Tory has written a letter to the head of Municipal Licensing and Standards to ask for a report and recommendations for dealing with what he called the “verging on out of control” growth of medical marijuana dispensaries. He also said that pot shops are showing up in “what I consider to be unacceptable numbers.”

“Out of Control.” “Unacceptable.” Pretty strong language from the mayor.

He even goes on to say that Toronto Police should use “whatever enforcement mechanisms are currently available to you, to address the health and safety concerns of neighbours and businesses in the communities where these marijuana dispensaries are currently operating unlawfully.”

These “out of control,” “unacceptable” businesses that are “operating unlawfully” should be immediately shut down, and any and all patrons and owners should be arrested and thrown in jail immediately, no? Why do we need a study and report? Perhaps even Mayor Tory himself would have to be arrested for setting foot in one of these establishments.

Let’s look at the numbers more closely to see how Mayor John Tory defines “out of control,” because of course his top priority is “the health and safety concerns of neighbours and businesses.” According to the website TO Dispensaries, there are approximately 90 shops operating in the 416 currently. Let’s compare their health and safety impacts to industries that already exist in Toronto.

Nail Salons

Studies on air quality in the average nail salon shows unacceptable levels of toxic compounds including formaldehyde, carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOC). A quick Google search for “nail salon Toronto” reveals a staggering list of at least 400+ salons, but it’s likely much more.

Most air quality research on cannabis smoke and vaporizers shows minimal health impacts, certainly far less than smoking tobacco. Mayor Tory could ask authorities to crack down on these establishments who pay minimum wage and expose staff to toxic chemicals, not to mention the public, but these businesses are operating “lawfully.”

Payday Loans

A quick Google search for “payday loans Toronto” reveals at least 250 payday loan, cheque cashing and other similar services operating in the 416. These lawful businesses prey on Toronto’s struggling working poor and small business operators who struggle with cash flow daily, weekly. They charge outrageous rates in a time when cheque scanning technology allows financial institutions to process transactions in the blink of an eye.

Long gone are the days when cheques needed to be manually cleared, yet these businesses drain our economy and the pocket books of those who can least afford it. Single parents who desperately need child support continue to be denied because these cheque cashing services help deadbeat parents stay off the grid and avoid garnishments that would be applied at a bank or credit union. Mayor Tory could prioritize a crackdown on these businesses, but he won’t because single moms and the working poor don’t have enough money to pay for a top-notch lobbyist.

I am sure that the licensed marijuana producers are losing a lot of business as a result of dispensaries, and that their lobbyists are knocking on doors down at City Hall every day, begging the mayor to help them maintain their monopoly. It must be very frustrating for those businesses who follow the new rules to see court challenges uphold the rights of cannabis patients

I am not suggesting that dispensaries get a free pass — they should be regulated and controlled as much as any other business, and many are likely operating without proper licensing and certification. What I will suggest is that perhaps Mayor John Tory and some members of council have their priorities all wrong when it comes to protecting the health and safety of Toronto residents.

Article source Huffington Post

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