Tories won’t crim­i­nal­ize mar­i­juana, Scheer says

Calgary Herald - - CANADA - MARIE-DANIELLE SMITH Na­tional Post md­[email protected]­media.com Twit­ter.com/mariedanielles

Con­ser­va­tive leader An­drew Scheer made clear Wednes­day he would not re-crim­i­nal­ize cannabis, af­ter head­lines last week sug­gested he hadn’t ruled the idea out.

In a French-lan­guage in­ter­view with a Que­bec ra­dio sta­tion Wednes­day morn­ing, Scheer said he has no in­ten­tion of fully rolling back the Lib­er­als’ le­gal cannabis pol­icy, but that a Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment would con­sider ad­just­ing some of the rules af­ter as­sess­ing the “con­se­quences.”

“We rec­og­nize the re­al­ity now, so I do not in­tend to go back and make mar­i­juana il­le­gal again,” he told 104.7 Ou­taouais, a ra­dio sta­tion based in Gatineau, Que. “But we will see what hap­pens within the year and make the nec­es­sary cor­rec­tions.”

Scheer said he would work with prov­inces to de­ter­mine whether changes should be made, not­ing that Que­bec is “not happy” with fed­eral law al­low­ing peo­ple to grow up to four cannabis plants per house­hold — the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment still con­sid­ers that to be il­le­gal, and has said it will take in­di­vid­u­als to court if they test the rule.

The in­ter­view did not mark the first time Scheer has talked about be­ing “re­al­is­tic” on the pot file, but it is the strong­est clar­i­fi­ca­tion yet since recre­ational cannabis be­came le­gal last Wednes­day.

The day pot be­came le­gal, Con­ser­va­tive MP Tony Clement put it this way, care­fully, in French: “So I think that the re­al­ity is the re­al­ity. The re­al­ity right now, it’s le­gal. And for us, to bet­ter pro­tect cit­i­zens, there need to be so­lu­tions if there are prob­lems.”

A harshly-worded state­ment the same day from the party’s health critic, Mar­i­lyn Gladu, crit­i­cized Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau for be­ing in a rush to meet a po­lit­i­cal dead­line and hav­ing a “lack of lead­er­ship on his sig­na­ture file.”

And in an in­ter­view with CTV last Thurs­day, Scheer didn’t defini­tively say whether or not a Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment would main­tain the le­gal frame­work around recre­ational cannabis, only say­ing his party would “do our due dili­gence, ex­am­ine the con­se­quences of this de­ci­sion, and we’ll ex­am­ine the re­al­ity on the ground.”

Wednes­day’s clar­i­fi­ca­tion comes a year and a half af­ter Scheer con­ceded, in an in­ter­view with Global News, that his party would have to be care­ful about its mes­sag­ing af­ter pot le­gal­iza­tion. “We have to be very re­al­is­tic as a party as to what we’re promis­ing Cana­di­ans go­ing into the 2019 elec­tion,” he told them in April 2017. “If this is some­thing that has been le­gal for a pe­riod of time, it’s go­ing to be very dif­fi­cult to say, ‘Hey, we’re go­ing to make this il­le­gal again.’ ”

Scheer ad­mit­ted this spring on Que­bec talk show Tout le monde en parle that he tried pot when he was younger.

The Post asked him at the Con­ser­va­tive pol­icy con­ven­tion in Hal­i­fax this Au­gust whether he would con­sider try­ing it again once it was le­gal. He laughed and said, “No.”

An­drew Scheer

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