MacAulay comfortable with plans to legalize marijuana

Steve Sharratt comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 29, 2016
Lawrence MacAulay

He’s never even touched the stuff, but Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay can appreciate the irony of a new nickname.

It might only be a footnote in history, but even Canada’s agriculture minister has to chuckle at the prospect of being dubbed the minister of marijuana.

Especially, since he’s now at the helm of the federal agricultural department that will one day oversee pot plantations and licensed grow ops, as well as collect scads of new tax revenue.

“It didn’t seem to be a big problem for Canadians and so it will be legalized,’’ he said in an interview. “The process of legalization is still being worked out and until that happens it’s tough for me to provide details.”

Marijuana has been banned in Canada since 1923 when it was swept up in the drug panic of the 1920s and included with the banning of opium and cocaine.

MacAulay is no stranger to agriculture. Before he entered politics nearly 40 years ago, he was a potato farmer in Midgell, P.E.I.

“I’ve never used it, but I suppose it will be eventually sold as we do alcohol,’’ he said. “I’m not involved in any way yet, but being an agricultural product, I suspect that one day we will see greenhouse operations and distribution methods all approved by government.”

In 1973, the federal Le Dain commission recommended the decriminalization and even the legalization of marijuana in Canada. Forty-three years later, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau announced intentions to legalize the drug as a 2015 Liberal election platform.

“Am I comfortable with that decision?” offered MacAulay from his Cardigan riding office. “Yes.”