Friday, October 05, 2007

The New Conservative Drug Policy Will Achieve Just What It is Designed to Achieve

The new Tory plan to target marijuana is aimed squarely at suburbanites, particularly, in Vancouver in the 905 belt and in the outer suburbs of Montreal and unless the Liberals do an about face on the issue it is going to work to the Conservatives advantage. The Liberals current policy of decriminalization plays right into the Conservative hands.

The problem is this. The Liberals have long maintained that Canadians should not be saddled with a criminal record for consuming something that is, after all, less harmful than alcohol. It is this light that Chrétien famously joked about having a joint in one hand and the money to pay for the fine of having it in the other. “I will have my money for my fine and a joint in my other hand.” At the same time as they have downplayed the affects of smoking marijuana they have stressed the importance of stiff penalties for trafficking. Taken in isolation such bipolar position has a certain superficial appeal. However, the Liberal policy of decriminalization is inherently incoherent; it is political position; it is an attempt to appeal to both sides of the political divide at the same time and it will not take too much time and effort to show how conflicted the Liberal position is. Indeed, image how ridiculous it would have sounded if this is what Chrétien said? “I will have my money for my fine and a joint in my other hand. Having paid my fine I would hope the cops find the person who sold it to me and put him in jail for a very long time.” This is essentially the Liberal’s current position. The problem is if it not already obvious by now that if the act of consumption is not deemed overly ruinous then the whole punitive rationale for trafficking comes crashing down. Add to the mix an acknowledgment that marijuana can serve a medical purpose and you have a conceptual train wreck as a policy.

All of this plays right into the Conservatives hands. The public is concerned about the growing number of grow ups and wants something down about it. The Conservatives not only promise action, but are going to blame the Liberals for the increase in grow ups. They are going to say that the Liberals have long sent out mixed messages about marijuana. This has led to increased demand for the product and as a consequence an increased number of grow ups to meet the demand. In order to boaster their case the Conservatives are going to force feed the Liberals their own words. One can count on them repeatedly bringing up the Chrétien quote and probably the 2002 senate report will be referred to but not quoted. Incidentally, I do not know if it matters to Harper and crew that such go hard approach will prove disastrous for the country. The Conservative position is first and foremost about politics.

Now, back in July Ontario’s marijuana possession laws were struck down by Judge Borenstein. Should the Ontario government loose its appeal and or the other similar discussions follow, the Conservatives will also launch new campaign a new campaign against “activist judges”. Such a campaign will not be aimed so much at suburbanites as the Conservatives social conservative base. Where he can, Harper will get his digs in about the Liberal senate and the 2002 report that recommened legalization.

The Liberals have only one effective counter. They can propose to legalize marijuana. They would then be in a position to actually use the senate report rather than having to look downward at the floor whenever the Conservatives mention it. I consider it very unlikely that the Liberals would be so bold though. I hope they prove me wrong.

9 comments:

Jason Bo Green said...

I agree - the Liberals should be bold enough, and could make this a wedge issue that they could probably squeak a win out of an election with. But they don't have the balls to do it. The Liberal party today is about doing nothing at all whatsoever, so this won't take hold of their imaginations.

A lot of people could turn this around into a real edge. Not this current crop.

It's kinda laughable what a huge gift the Conservatives could be handing out here, to a bunch of fools who won't take full advantage.


Oh, and by the way? Your word verification sucks ass.

Anonymous said...

Yea, boldness is really your only option... however, you have Dion as your "leader", so that's not likely anytime soon. ;-)

Keep staring at the floor!

LoB

wilson said...

If pot was legalized, controlled and taxed by the government:

Would it be mandatory for Western farmers to sell their pot crops thru the Canadian Wheat Board?

Would Canada still have the moral authority to critize Afghanistan's poppy crops?
Perhaps we could donate a few seeds to get them started on a ligitimate crop, BC Homegrown!!

Would children have the legal right to buy pot at the age of consent?
Or like booze, the province would decide?

My, tourism from the US, Mexico (and Internationally) would certainly soar.

Jay said...

Great idea Wilson, I never thought about how it could boost our sagging tourism industry which has died in the hands of the current government.

Jay said...

By the way Wilson. There is no difference poppies grown for opium in Afghanistan and the pulse crops which produce opium in the US. Strangely after rolling into Afghanistan the US government increased the amount of opium allowed to be produced by Americans and cut off Afghanistan legal share of the market. So is this about drugs being used or more US protectionism of their economy?

Do you ever research what you comment about?

Anonymous said...

Har har....some of you actually think the Libs could win an election based on using marijuana as a wedge issue?!?

That has got to be the funniest thing I have read all day! I don't think some of you can see what country you are actually in due to all the pot smoke.

As was said above, keep staring at the floor.

Koby said...

"Har har....some of you actually think the Libs could win an election based on using marijuana as a wedge issue?!?"

I said it was the only effective counter to the Conservative plan, but hey you are conservative and so naturally the facts don't matter.

As to whether such a wedge issue could win the day for the Liberals, I have no idea, but stranger things have happened. Just look at what happened to John Tory.

"Oh, and by the way? Your word verification sucks ass."

Yes. yes it does,

"Would Canada still have the moral authority to critize Afghanistan's poppy crops?"

Why to equate smack and marijuana you dumb ass

“Strangely after rolling into Afghanistan the US government increased the amount of opium allowed to be produced by Americans and cut off Afghanistan legal share of the market. So is this about drugs being used or more US protectionism of their economy?”

I did not know that.

As to Tourism Wilson, remember the whole moving to Canada thing following Bush’s reelection. Why Canada? Why did Canada have such a seductive appeal for so many Americans? However unrealistic, many Americans saw as proof that Canada was some kind of progressive nirvana based on three things. 1) We stayed out of Iraq. 2) SSM. 3) A promise to decriminalize pot.

Jason Bo Green said...

I'm not smoking pot when I say that this could be a serious wedge issue.

(And I do not, ever, welcome wedge issues - politics should not be divisive, but inclusive)

If Harper wants, in the end, to declare half of Canadians "criminals", then yes, it's a wedge issue to be exploited.

I hope Harper doesn't go there, b/c the country doesn't need a fight against each other.

Anyway, I guess Koby doesn't want my comments any longer, so - that's that. Ciao.

Koby said...

"Anyway, I guess Koby doesn't want my comments any longer, so - that's that. Ciao."

why would I not want you to comment anymore? Feel free.

Anyway, I too think it is wedge issue.

If you ask people what issues are important to them, marijuana’s legal status is way down the list. However, there is a lot of ink spilt on the issue and it is an issue most people can understand and have an opinion about. The popularity of the subject has political consequences as it is and if one of the parties proposed that marijuana be legalized this would be doubly so. As with SSM, ultimately the importance of the issue lies not with the subjective importance people place on the issue, but rather whether a particular party’s stand conforms in a general sense with how various groups of Canadians see themselves. I will tell you flat out that a prohibitionist stance is incompatible with how most young urban Canadians see themselves, with their world view. So even though the issue might be way down list in terms of what this same groups thinks important, they are not going to vote for a party that takes such a stance.