Surprise! Rona Ambrose Changes Her Mind On Legalization

Rona Ambrose, Leader of Canada's Official Opposition, has turned over a new leaf.

For years, and as recently as a year-end interview with the CBC in December 2015, the interim leader of the Conservative Party warned Canadians of the dangers surrounding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's plans to legalize cannabis nationwide:

"It's one thing to decriminalize marijuana. It's another to legalize it in an environment where every day we're receiving more evidence that it's very harmful to young people."

Back then, it seemed like she would fight tooth-and-nail to prevent legalization from happening.

But the opposition leader had a different message about her stance on legalization during an interview with Simi Sara of Vancouver's CKNW on Jan. 20:

"I hope that the faster they [the Liberals] move on this [legalization], the better because the proliferation of pot dispensaries is quite large. So it's moved now not just in Vancouver but across the country. And they're unregulated. So the sooner they can move on that [legalization] the better to protect kids."

Ambrose is referring to the "gray market" dispensaries, which are unregulated storefronts selling cannabis to medical patients - though there are allegations that many have also sold pot to non-patients, even minors.

So far, Prime Minister Trudeau hasn't taken action in terms of either regulating or closing down the illegal dispensaries. Instead, police have raided some businesses in places like Nanaimo, B.C. and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Meanwhile, other illegal dispensaries in Vancouver and Victoria, B.C. are being licensed by municipal government.

Due to that confusion, activists and government-licensed cannabis producers are calling on Trudeau to clarify the legality of the medical and recreational cannabis in Canada. And now those activists and advocates have an unlikely ally in Ambrose.

A paradigm shift on pot

Ambrose's position appears to signal a dramatic shift in the Conservative Party's stance on cannabis. During the 2015 election, former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper claimed, "Most not want the full legalization of marijuana."

But Harper's replacement - someone we once dubbed the Official Opposition to Cannabis - now disagrees:

"I think, the bottom line is there's a huge faction of people in this country that are mostly adults to be frank, that want access to pot, and they want it legalized and it's for recreational purposes. And that's the reality."

She went on to say that the Conservatives have warmed toward decriminalization but were still leery of legalization's potential effects. But she seems open to working on the issue with the Liberals:

"We don't have any sort of sense of what the regulations will look like. But whatever they look like, Prime Minister Trudeau has said that he's going to keep pot out of the hands of children. So, good. That's what we need to do."

Years from now, we might look back on legalization as one of the few things that the Liberals and Conservatives came to agree on.

h/t Newstalk 770, Toronto Sun

banner image: Number 10 / Flickr


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