On Wednesday, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said, “marijuana usage isn’t as big a deal as it used to be.” Paulson reasoned that marijuana could still play a role in organized crime, but that the role is diminishing as marijuana becomes more commercially available. This should not have made news- Paulson was merely stating facts. Unfortunately, facts are increasingly irrelevant on Parliament Hill, the site of Canada’s political news factory. Canada’s Justice Minister Peter MacKay, famous for the blank stare and glazed look he often gives reporters when asked to answer even the most basic questions about his government’s marijuana policies, took issue with Paulson’s comments. For some inexplicable reason, the CBC decided to report on it.
According to that CBC report, MacKay countered Paulson’s assertion by saying that young people are still “very negatively affected” by double dank chron. This is a valid point. Some people, both old and young, are very negatively affected by it. Still, that doesn’t mean that the number of people negatively affected today isn’t less than the number negatively affected 10 or 20 years ago. There’s no way around it; MacKay’s response was flawed. But that didn’t stop him. Pretending it addressed Paulson’s comments, he added, “We know that [marijuana] can have a very severe impact on early childhood development.” Aside from being completely irrelevant in the context of Paulson’s comments, this claim is also very bizarre. The BC Ministry of Children and Family Development defines early childhood development as, “a period of rapid growth and development from conception until age six.” Does MacKay seriously think Canadian kids age 0-6 are smoking skunk on the regular? (Of course, excluding when Health Canada forces them to smoke up.) Is this the type of scientific research his government has been funding: “An investigation into the effects of a weed butter on toddlers”? Pardon the obvious question here, but is Peter high?
As the press gallery undoubtedly questioned his sobriety, MacKay’s responses became even less intelligent. “We know [marijuana] isn’t a motivator,” he said, and continued, “it doesn’t make people want to get up and go out and lead productive lives.” Has the Justice Minister seen Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle? If he has, he should know that marijuana can motivate people to get up off the couch. But is this really the problem? No. Everyone who knows anyone is aware that recreational marijuana use doesn’t turn people into useless blobs. The real problem is that Canada’s Justice Minister seems to let stereotypes inform his opinions of marijuana.
If our government plans to make useful public policy (whether it has this intention is debatable, but for now let’s assume that it does), it has to do so on the basis of actual information, not just uneducated opinions. Peter MacKay’s comments suggest that he holds many uneducated opinions, and betray an inability or a lack of desire to conduct research or access any information beyond his uneducated opinions when addressing the topic of marijuana use. Is he too lazy to bother with research? Unmotivated to get up off the couch and learn something? Too slovenly to do his job like he is supposed to? If so, it probably isn’t because he used marijuana. Sure, he could be a total stoner, but that isn’t why he’s a lousy Justice Minister. No shoddy stereotype can save him the blame for his ineptitude.