A cannabis leaf.

A cannabis leaf.

Change to pot laws likely to come slowly, despite Liberal win

A local advocate for reforming cannabis laws was happy with the federal election outcome.

Arne Petryshen

A local advocate for reforming cannabis laws was happy with the federal election outcome.

Tamara Cartwright-Poulits, the regional coordinator for NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada, said she was elated by the election results and Trudeau getting elected. She said it is now a waiting game, though some want the changes to cannabis laws to happen immediately.

“We know it isn’t going to happen that fast,”  Cartwright-Poulits said. “Until the fourth of November, when cabinet is actually set up and we know who the justice minister is and who the health minister is and who is going to handle the portfolio.”

Part of that is whether there will be one component in Health Canada and perhaps a whole different angle for the recreational side of it.

Cartwright-Poulis said she has spoken to Liberals in Ottawa on the issue prior to the election and they were looking at the Colorado models, but since then Oregon has come in too.

“They are looking at different aspects of how it’s working in the U.S. in those certain states on how it can benefit the whole country,” she said.

“It’s an absolutely positive step in every direction because if (Trudeau) takes the criminality out of it that makes it so no one is going to end up in jail for pot, because right now it is mandatory minimums.”

The Conservatives’ Bill C-10 means that a person caught with a certain amount of marijuana could end up with a 14 year sentence.

She said ultimately they want cannabis removed from the Canada Border Services Agency’s narcotic list.

“Make it more in the health end of it,” she said, adding that once you put the medical label on it, it also makes it difficult to bring it around to a more recreational platform.

Cartwright-Poulits said she hopes that marijuana is eventually managed like tobacco and alcohol.

“Then it would open the bong stores to get their licensing and be distributing already,” she said. “But then there are people who also have medical needs who want to have a little more knowledgeable people, so that’s where you’d want the dispensary  model sort of staying intact too.”

She said NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada began the campaign with the Liberals four years ago.

“We were out in Montreal at the conventions and in Edmonton at the conventions talking to other MPs and kind of putting our input in,” she said. “So I’d like to some of our community be able to be put at the table in the committee, so that we have our input as patients, as consumers.”

She also noted there are the anti-cannabis proponents out there that are also going to have their input as well.

“We have to look at it like adults and have an adult conversation about it — and get the reefer madness out of it,” she said.

She said some patients worry that they will not have a chance to have their say.

“Which is unfortunate, I think the patients should be more onboard thinking that this may be the time that we finally get rid of the dog tags that we’ve had to wear since 2001,” she said. “But they also want their gardens back. The Liberal government really isn’t talking about letting personal growth start back.”

Cartwright-Poulits is also the CEO and president of Canadian Medical Cannabis Partners Society.

“We’re a not-for-profit organization that is advocating and lobbying for legalization for patients,” she said.

She is also working on the East Kootenay Cannabis Club.

“To get some advocation in town too,” she said.


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