It's comical to watch the federal Conservatives trip over themselves when it comes to their stance on marijuana.
On Wednesday, Tom (not his real name), a 65-year-old Prince George man who has been growing his own pot for medical purposes for the past three years, said he will follow the law on April 1 if the government goes ahead with its plans to take away his licence. He won't, however, turn to government-approved operators that produce a more expensive and less potent legal medical marijuana, he says. He'll just go to a street supplier to satisfy his needs.
Meanwhile, federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay said Wednesday his party is thinking about introducing a bill that would allow police to ticket people caught with a small amount of pot, instead of laying charges.
Just that basic move is long overdue. Police chiefs across Canada, along with members of the Conservative caucus, have been calling for such legislation for years.
So, on one hand, the feds want to liberalize pot possession laws for recreational tokers whose purchases support organized crime but, on the other hand, they're going to crack the whip on 37,000 law-abiding Canadians like Tom who have licences to grow pot in their home to help with their medical conditions.
We're not talking about decriminalization or legalization, MacKay said in defence of his about-face. The Criminal Code would still be available to police, but we would look at options that would give police the ability, much like the treatment of open liquor ... to ticket those types of offences."
That's an interesting analogy to use. MacKay is comparing ticketing marijuana - a substance that is illegal to possess - with ticketing booze, which is legal to possess. The minister is undercutting his own argument opposing the decriminalization and/or legalization of marijuana.
Some Conservatives are more pragmatic in their politics. For them, marijuana use is a personal and adult decision. As long as it's not happening around children or being sold to teenagers and as long as folks high on weed aren't driving, what's the problem? Furthermore, marijuana provides real benefits to people like Tom, who uses pot to manage anxiety and help him sleep after he beat throat cancer three years ago.
It should be noted that Tom doesn't smoke marijuana. Using the pot he grows in his garage, he makes marijuana-infused butter for use in cookie recipes. He eats one cookie each evening and insists he wouldn't be alive today without medical marijuana.
Not only is he a responsible user, he's a responsible grower. Although he's licenced to grow up to 25 plants, he only grows about half of that or just enough to meet his personal needs. When he began his legal grow operation, he set it up on a skid in his garage so he wouldn't be damaging his home in any way. He also brought in an electrical inspector to make sure there was no risk of fire and checked with the city to see if he needed a building permit.
Yet the majority of Conservatives continue to take a hard line on marijuana, as if reefer madness will sweep the land if the public is allowed access to it.
MacKay himself has frothed at the mouth about pot, accusing Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who supports the legalization of marijuana for adults, of encouraging kids to smoke pot because he shared his views on the topic when asked by students at an Ontario high school.
Trudeau doesn't condone kids smoking pot and neither does Tom.
"I recommend it for seniors but I don't recommend it for young people," he told The Citizen during an interview last year.
If the Conservatives suddenly believe that possessing a small amount of pot is only worth a ticket, instead of jail time, they should be willing to accept people like Tom having a small supply of marijuana and plants in their homes to manage their health under doctors orders.