Monday, January 18, 2010

On Illogical Positions

I read a passage of Ignatieff's response to a question on marijuana, relating to Liberal candidate Ross Rebagliati and his favorable "lifestyle". For the life of me, this position makes absolutely NO sense:

“I never make comments on the personal lifestyle choices of my colleagues and friends, and I’ve never felt that marijuana use or, for example, possession of small amounts of marijuana are to be criminalized or that anybody should suffer consequences for personal recreational uses of marijuana. But then I have to say to people who then ask me if I want to legalize marijuana, and I know you don’t want to hear me say this, but I’d say no.”

Frankly, this is the typical bs response, simultaneously condoning the activity, but also rejecting legalization. So, people are free to make "personal" choices, no one in possession of personal marijuana should be sanctioned and there should really be NO consequences, but it will remain illegal. Huh?

The debate on marijuana has reached the level of absurdity, wherein politicians effectively skate around the edges and actually try to have it both ways. How can you say the law shouldn't intervene, there is no consequence and also keep the activity illegal. You've effectively neutered the legal component, but kept the activity technically illegal. In so doing, you've robbed the treasury of billions in tax, instead preferring to leave the proceeds in the hands of organized crime. Where is the sense in that position? You're allowing people to feed organized crime, you're saying you can buy it from illegal sources. My head hurts.

The most maddening thing about this debate, the above position pretty much favors legalization, but doesn't have the "jam" to come out and formally say so. Instead, you get this inherent contradiction, and all the while you reward the supposed "criminals", waste resources that could be used elsewhere, and squander a huge revenue stream. With the new fiscal reality, accompanied by all these supposed promises, a sober re-think might find a common equation.

It's not about becoming some advocate, it's about nonsensical policy and ridiculous doublespeak. On top of that, this political hesitancy seems misplaced, because for the Liberals there is really little downside, maybe potential gains. Am I missing some finding that shows the massive liability? Are people afraid of the "tough on crime" Conservatives fermenting a wedge issue? Is there some belief that full formal acceptance will lead to higher usage amongst young people? I honestly don't understand why this is such a taboo issue, that necessitates such smoke and mirrors response.

10 comments:

Omar said...

I'm really hoping such a position on marijuana would be one of those campaign on the right, but govern on the left type scenarios. But if that's the thinking, I believe the Liberals would be placating the wrong demographic in the first place.

Steve V said...

I think you might be right, nobody wants to campaign on it, but when in government could be more open. That said, it's pure speculation, trying to read between the lines.

KC said...

Sadly talking out of both sides of their mouths on pot has been the M.O. of the last number of Liberal leaders. At some point you just can't dodge issues and have to answer questions. They can't look at their progressive supporters with a straight face and spout nonsense drug war talking points (althout they came close in debate on C-15) but (misguidedly in my opinion) are afraid of conservative hysterics if it looked like they were headed in a "liberal" direction. So unfortunately they spew this kind of inconsistent claptrap and please no one.

It'd be nice to see the kind of courage out of them on this issue that we saw during the same sex marriage debate.

Steve V said...

I don't know why we can't make the argument that whatever proceeds would be re-directed to fight things like crystal meth labs, hard drugs that actually terrify parents. In that way, it could be win/win, or at least you nullify the "soft" on crime nonsense by showing how this approach works to advantage. There is nothing more pathetic than watching police aircraft circle rural Ontario every fall, looking for pot plants. If you can make the "wasted resources" argument, supported by the serious drug problem in many communities, it could appeal to the "queasy".

Koby said...

You nailed it. When it comes to marijuana the Liberal position on possession has been pretty lax since Chretein quipped that he would have a joint in one hand and the money for his fine in other. At the same time, they have been ever more supportive of tougher penalties for drug trafficking . To say that such stances are mutually inconsistent would be an understatement. How can consuming a joint be no worse than speeding and something virtually every Liberal leader can laugh about but passing one worthy of a year in jail?

Of course, Igantieff's position is not only an example of Liberal bad faith, it politically stupid. So long as the issue is sentencing, the Liberals will loose. Indeed, the Liberals can say and do the same thing as the Conservativs and because the public trades in sterotypes the Liberals will still get their ears boxed in. Conservatives will always deemed to be tougher on bad guys. On the other hand, the Conservatives look like fish out of water when trying to justify the merrits of the war on drugs.

Given what is happening in California, the Liberals can proceed without too much fear of massive US backlash.

ridenrain said...

Rather than actually face the issue, past Liberal governments used appointed judges to reduce it from a crime to a "lifestyle choice".
I'm dead against unelected judges deciding what is a crime and what is not. Stop the cowardice and let's see this as a party platform.

KC said...

Riderain - Really? You mean Liberal-appointed judges like Michel Bastarache, Ian Binnie, and Beverley McLachlin (the last not appointed by Liberals but made Chief Justice by a Liberal) who all rejected that argument in Malmo-Levine? Rail about judicial activism all you want but at least learn some facts first.

Steve V said...

That would be called a "smackdown" I believe ;)

Gene Rayburn said...

Wow Ridenrain got his ass handed back to himself so soundly you could hear its echo off the North Shore Mountains here in Vancouver!

Steve V said...

That's funny.