LEGALIZING POT WILL BRING ECONOMIC GAINS, SAYS MARIJUANA PARTY CANDIDATE
Dustin Sobie may only be 18 years old and have a shoestring campaign
budget, but he's eager to try his hand at politics.
From the time he was an exchange student in Germany and the war in
Iraq started, Sobie has been a keen follower of the news, especially
politics. The Grade 12 student at Lethbridge Collegiate Institute
wanted to see what the electoral process was like so he decided to run
as a candidate for the Marijuana Party of Canada. It's the first time
the party has had a candidate in Lethbridge.
"I support the legalization of marijuana and the platform of the
Marijuana Party," Sobie said.
His parents have mixed feelings about his decision, but they're glad
he's getting involved in the political process when so many youth are
"They probably wish I was running for a different party," Sobie
admits, adding his mom is particularly concerned, yet supportive.
"My dad supports me all the way."
The party's platform centres around legalizing marijuana and amending
the Canada Elections Act. The party wants to see the
first-past-the-post method scrapped in favour of proportional
"A lot of Canada is underrepresented in the House of Commons. A lot of
people get elected and they're not what everybody wants," Sobie said.
Legalizing marijuana would bring social and economic advantages and
send a strong message to the United States.
"I think Canada has to stand up to the United States and say we're
going to control our domestic policy," he said.
If Canada became a leader in legalizing marijuana, other countries
would follow suit, eventually putting a dent in U.S. domination and
its tendency to dictate drug policy.
RCMP statistics from 1996 estimate five million Canadians use
"That makes them criminals. According to the law, all of them should
be jailed right now and fined. I think that's wrong."
Canada's laws affect young adults most seriously by denying them
career and travel opportunities if they are convicted of possession.
With 75 per cent of all drug cases in Canada involving marijuana,
often simple possession, taxpayers pay more than $100 million every
year for jailing marijuana users.
"It puts a huge strain on the legal system. I believe this is a huge
waste of Canadian taxpayers' money because these people did nothing
wrong," Sobie said.
Economically, marijuana represents an untapped resource worth about $7
billion a year, which is more than the wheat, beef or timber
economies. Legalizing marijuana would save money spent to enforce drug
laws and would generate money as a taxable commodity.
Even though his party doesn't have official positions on other issues,
Sobie has his own opinions on voter concerns like health, education,
government accountability and taxes.
"I think we have to put more money into education," he said, adding
the money should be spent on hiring more teachers, creating smaller
classes and buying more computers and newer textbooks.
He points a finger at Premier Ralph Klein for the state of education
in Alberta. While students do well on provincial achievement tests,
Alberta students are at a disadvantage when compared to students in
neighbouring provinces. He'd like to see the federal government
exercise some influence on how provinces spend education dollars.
"Education should be equal across the country, there shouldn't be
The country's health-care system is one of the jewels in the crown of
Canada and "we should maintain the Canada Health Act and put more
money into health care," he said.
Sobie favours a progressive tax system based on ability to pay and for
Canadian citizens to have access to any and all government information
that isn't a matter of national security. He said the House of Commons
is marked by too much aggression and the parties should work together,
as occurs in Sweden.