OTTAWA — Pot. Weed. Grass. In spite of its many names, marijuana — and the contentious issue of legalization — hasn't had much attention from the main party leaders during this campaign.
But some Canadians still want to sniff out the federal politicians' views on the odorous green plant.
"I want to hear all the major contenders for my next prime minister talk to me about their stance on marijuana. Whether it be decriminalization or legalization, I don't care. Just talk about it," implored David Robert, MTV talk-show star, in an email to canada.com.
A recent decision by the Ontario Superior Court to strike down key parts of the act that prohibits the possession and production of marijuana has brought the issue back into the headlines. The federal government has 90 days in which to decide if it will appeal the decision, which centred on access to marijuana for medicinal purposes.
And last week, high-profile Canadian marijuana activist Marc Emery — who had been imprisoned in the U.S. for selling marijuana seeds to Americans through his Vancouver-based catalogue company — was told he can't serve part of his five-year sentence in Canada.
So where do the parties stand?
"While the courts have said there must be reasonable access to marijuana for medicinal purposes, we believe it must be done in a controlled fashion to ensure public safety," says Conservative candidate Rob Nicholson, minister of justice in the outgoing Parliament.
The Conservatives, he told Postmedia News, are "not into the business of decriminalizing marijuana. I think it sends out the wrong message to people."
Party spokesman Michael O'Shaughnessy said in an email the Liberals are reviewing the court ruling on medical marijuana, but the Liberals are opposed to full decriminalization.
"We would be open to examining options where possession of small amounts for personal use would not result in a criminal record," O'Shaughnessy said.
The party believes, however, that "marijuana use should always be discouraged."
The Green Party platform says the Greens would legalize marijuana — then tax it.
This, according to the Greens' budget, would net $1 billion in revenue the first year it is implemented, 2012-2013, and another $1.5 billion the following year.
The party says it would adopt a harm-reduction approach to substance abuse, permit the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and decriminalize possession.
The NDP voted against Tory-introduced Bill S-10, which would have created minimum penalties for those found in possession of as few as six marijuana plants.
And an NDP candidate in the 2008 election ran into trouble after videos of him driving stoned on pot and dropping LSD were circulated.
The issue is not addressed in the party platform and the party did not immediately comment. The BQ was also against Bill S-10.
By Robert Hiltz
April 16, 2011