Though Justin Trudeau wants marijuana legalized by next year, those plans will go up in smoke if Kellie Leitch becomes his successor.
In an interview Tuesday afternoon on AM980’s the Andrew Lawton Show, the Simcoe–Grey member of parliament and Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate pledged to re-criminalize marijuana if she is elected leader of her party and eventually becomes prime minister.
Touting her credentials as a pediatric physician, Leitch said the risks of marijuana should render the drug accessible only to those in medical need, a departure from Trudeau’s position, laid out during last year’s campaign, that marijuana should be legal, regulated and taxed.
“I think there are individuals in Canada that require this as a medication, but let’s treat it like any other drug that is a heavy narcotic: put it behind a pharmacy desk, make sure there’s a script so we know the potency of what people are receiving, and therefore (it) can be safely distributed to those who need it,” Leitch said.
After Leitch said she opposed legalization, Lawton questioned whether whether she would reverse the policy if she forms government.
“Would you criminalize recreational marijuana, once again, as prime minister?” Lawton asked her.
“Yes,” Leitch replied.
On Apr. 20, a day known to cannabis activists simply as 420, Canada’s Liberal health minister, Jane Philpott, said at the United Nations that legislation would be forthcoming by spring of 2017. Between now and then, Philpott said the government would be consulting with stakeholders in law enforcement, healthcare, and other sectors.
Trudeau said that legalization–especially compared to decriminalization or the status quo–will protect kids and keep money out of the pockets of criminal organizations.
Leitch, however, said that the risks of marijuana consumption by youth are very real, and pointed out the hypocrisy of Health Canada spending millions on anti-cigarette smoking campaigns while the federal government moves to legitimize marijuana.
“I feel strongly about this,” she added. “We know this is a dangerous drug that has a huge impact on the developing child brain and adolescent brain, and I believe that if we want to make it available to those who need it, that it should be in a pharmacy and provided by a prescription, but not made available otherwise to Canadians, because of the damaging impact it can have on the developing human brain.”
During the interview, Leitch also addressed doctor-assisted suicide, the need for fiscally “responsible” economic policy, and her candidacy for her party’s leadership.
Listen to the full interview here: