Tag Archives: Jack Layton

Podcast: May 4, 2011

4 May

Wow, show number eight!

For some reason, the first minute was cut off, so just to let you: we opened the show informing listeners that it was “Star Wars Day”, because you can say “May the Fourth be with you”. Lame, I know.

This week’s topics included Monday’s elections, the killing of Osama bin Laden, and the infamous Vancouver “Green Men”.

Headlines and Deadlines Ep. 8 – Hosted by Jeff Lagerquist and Charles Vanegas – May 4, 2011

NOTE: Jeff pulled up a photo that WAS NOT Ruth Ellen Brosseau. As far as I know, there is no real nude photo of Brosseau circulating on the internet.

Headlines and Deadlines (Lagerquist/Vanegas version) airs every Wednesday at 6 a.m. on CKLN.FM

You can follow Jeff or me on twitter – send us a note, and we’ll be sure to read it on air.

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Harper: marijuana will never be respectable

29 Mar

In a joint venture with YouTube, on March 16, Prime Minister Stephen Harper answered a selection of questions submitted by Canadians. After almost 1,800 questions were submitted and almost 170,000 votes were counted, the top four questions dealt with the legalization of marijuana. Harper used the last five minutes of the forty-minute interview to address the issue of marijuana legalization and explain his government’s stance against it.

“There are lots of crimes that are a lot worse than casual marijuana use, but when people are buying from the drug trade, they are not buying from their neighbour,” he said. “They are buying from international cartels that are involved in unimaginable violence and intimidation and social disaster and catastrophe.”

Neev, lead organizer of the Toronto Global Marijuana March, says Harper inadvertently makes a good case in favour of legalization. While he agrees that there is violence involved in the drug trade, Neev says that if marijuana were legalized, the violence associated with the drug trade would be eliminated.

“Under a legalized, controlled regime, [the association with violence] would be false. He doesn’t see the full picture,” says Neev, 38. “I’m trying to understand his perspective, but it just doesn’t make sense to me.”

In 2007, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson introduced Bill C-26, proposing amendments to Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, including a mandatory six-month prison sentence for someone possessing as few as five marijuana plants. Reintroduced as Bill C-15, the bill was passed by the House of Commons in June 2009. In December 2009, the Senate also passed the bill, with some amendments, which are still awaiting approval from the House of Commons.

Libby Davies, joint-deputy leader of the federal NDP, says the proposed increase in enforcement will do nothing to deter drug use, and there are many irrational and problematic aspects of the bill.

“Under the proposed bill, passing a joint can be considered trafficking,” says Davies. “Minimum-sentencing means more people will be put in provincial jails. No one has really talked to the provinces, but (as many of the proposed mandatory minimum-sentences would be less than two years) that’s who will end up paying for it.”

In his YouTube interview, Harper brought up his own children as a reason why he was against marijuana legalization.

“I have two young children. Ben and Rachel are now getting pretty close to 14 and 11,” he said. “They are at the age where they will increasingly come into contact with drug use. As a parent, this is the last thing I want to see for my kids, or anyone else’s kids.”

Davies says that the government’s approach to marijuana and other drug use is ineffective, because it prioritizes punishment, and does not use a medically-based approach. She also questions the appropriateness of police officers teaching drug education.

“It makes about as much sense as police teaching sex education. You should be teaching them enough so they can make educated and informed decisions. This super-heavy drug-enforcement agenda doesn’t help anyone,” she says. “They play on people’s fears. Parents are concerned about drugs, but they also don’t want their children to have criminal records.”

Health Canada allows those with serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, spinal-cord injury or disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, or severe forms of arthritis, to apply for the authorization to possess marijuana for medicinal purposes. Despite this, it is still difficult for many Canadians with medical conditions to access medical marijuana. Dana Larsen, former owner of the Vancouver Seed Bank, a store that sells medicinal plant seeds, says there are other unnecessary problems that arise from the use of medical marijuana.

“Not everyone gets approved for medical marijuana, so people get charged. With a criminal record, it can be hard to get a job or cross the border,” Larsen says. “Even people who are legally allowed to possess marijuana have had problems. Both Canadians and Americans, who were legally allowed to medicinally use marijuana, have been stopped at the border.”

Larsen, 38, was a founding member of both the Canadian Marijuana Party and the British Columbia Marijuana Party. However, after seeing Jack Layton appear on PotTV in favour of marijuana legalization, he joined the NDP and started End Prohibition, a group that works within the NDP to fight against marijuana prohibition. He says the group’s name is meant to “compare the failed prohibition in the early-twentieth century to the drug war of recent years.”

“It’s essentially a war on plants,” says Larsen.

According to Neev, the main problem with the debate of marijuana legalization is the lack of depth. He says many who favour legalization lack any sort of plan of what to do if marijuana ever became legalized.

“You can legalize it like alcohol – you can legalize it like aspirin – you can legalize it like morphine. There are all sorts of models to choose from, but no one is going past that initial yes-no stage,” says Neev.

The only marijuana question that made it into Harper’s YouTube interview asked why marijuana wasn’t taxed and regulated like alcohol. While he did not directly mention marijuana, Harper said he did not believe drugs could become a respectable industry.

“It will never be that,” he said. “And we need to understand, and make our kids understand that.”

Larsen disagrees. He says that if legalized, marijuana could be regulated in a similar fashion as alcohol. He says it would be economically beneficially, as it’s possible to generate huge profits by taxing marijuana, without increasing current prices.

“Marijuana is really overpriced because it’s illegal. If you eliminate that element of danger, the price goes down. Not only that, you’d be taking it out of people’s basements and putting it into the fields, where it grows better,” Larsen says. “It would be essentially free to grow marijuana – costing about as much as it does to produce the finest apples. They could tax whatever they wanted, and make a huge profit; at the same time, they’d be eliminating an entire wave of criminals.”