The Canadian federal election is right around the corner; October 21st, to be exact! That's a mere four days after the 1-year anniversary of legalization. As candidates pitch their platforms, pot proponents may want to look deeper into where parties stand on cannabis reform.
According to CBC News, the Greens have made more "cannabis-related promises" than any other party, proposing reduced excess packaging and organic production standards, among other points. Meanwhile, the NDP says it will expunge the records of those with minor cannabis convictions. It appears the Liberals and Conservatives haven't been as vocal.
With that, we wonder... what exactly should consumers be looking for when evaluating platforms? We recently caught up with cannabis educator, advocate, and CEO of SheCann, Ashleigh Brown, for some insight.
What types of questions should we be asking our candidates?
I think all cannabis regulation starts with patient stories and their issues. Legalization and its continuous evolution needs to begin and end with patients! It's important to highlight the human face of cannabis, and the questions that warrant answering now are largely related to access and affordability:
- Why is our medicine (which has been legally available since 2001) taxed not only with GST/HST, but also, a federal Excise Tax? And in some provinces, additional duty?
- When will regulations change to allow storefront distribution of medical cannabis?
- When will cannabis be covered under the proposed nationwide Pharmacare program?
Do you feel any parties are offering promising solutions to cannabis-related issues?
For me, this has been a learning process. I believe in advocacy over politics, and instead focus on who is actually listening when we ask these questions. I have a very clear objective: consumer rights and reforms to make cannabis an accessible choice for Canadians. I wouldn't say that any party is vocally supporting cannabis reform at this point. Perhaps, if we can get some targeted questions in front of them, it will spur on the conversation on a national level.
In addition to raising questions, how can members of the cannabis community contribute to reform efforts?
I think people underestimate the power of their voice and their vote. Change takes time, but if Canadians submit questions to Leaders' Debates, or if they show up at their local Town Halls, this puts a face on these issues:
- If a candidate is door-knocking in your neighbourhood, ask them about their party's plan for cannabis, and share your own story. The opportunity to be heard can, quite literally, show up at your doorstep!
- If you are able, schedule one-on-one meetings with your MP and their opponents.
- Use Twitter and tweet at the federal leaders about key issues. Those accounts are monitored, and it's an easy way to generate some visibility.
It's important to turn our frustrations into opportunity.
There's a tipping point at which we reach critical mass, and a loud, unified voice can't be ignored. Now is a great time to share your insights and feel like you have a place in the conversation.
If you haven't yet registered to vote, hit this link!
To learn more about the main political parties' platforms, visit the following resources: