Stephen Harper has said his party is strongly opposed to the legalization of marijuana, and that it will not happen under his government. The prime minister has been critical of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau coming out in favour of legalizing the drug.
Speaking to the media in August 2013, Mr Harper said: “Obviously I think Mr Trudeau’s actions display poor judgment…our priority as a government is not encouraging the spread of drugs, it’s encouraging job creation in this country.”
After being urged to do so by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the government is considering allowing police to write tickets for anyone caught with small amounts of marijuana instead of laying criminal charges.
In the summer of 2013, Justin Trudeau came out in favour of the legalization of marijuana, a policy his party had adopted a year earlier.
He said: "I did a lot of listening, a lot of reading and a lot of paying attention to the very serious studies that have come out, and I realized that going the road of legalization is actually a responsible thing to look at and to do."
The Liberals under Justin Trudeau want marijuana legalized because then its sale could be regulated and controlled by the government, making it harder for children and teens to obtain.
“It’s one of the only ways to keep it out of the hands of our kids,” he said, “because the current war on drugs, the current model is not working.”
He says taxing the drug would also help re-direct marijuana funds away from organized criminals.
NDP leader Tom Mulcair has said that the use of marijuana should be a “personal choice,” but that there are still medical issues that need to be examined before the legalization of the drug goes ahead in Canada.
On the sidelines of last year’s annual Canadian Medical Association meeting, the opposition leader said: “The NDP for 40 years has believed that it makes no sense at all for a person to have a criminal record for possession or personal use of a small amount of marijuana.”
Speaking of his own experience with marijuana, Mr Mulcair recalled: “"When I was a student it was part of the culture, but what we were smoking back then was about as strong as oregano compared to what's on the market today.”
The Green Party’s position is that the criminalization of marijuana “has utterly failed and has not led to reduced drug use in Canada.”
Their platform cites the $61.3 million Canada spent in 2008 targeting illicit drugs, as well as the other ways in which marijuana is “prohibitively costly,” including “criminalizing youth and fostering organized crime”.
The Green Party would choose to legalize and tax marijuana, and believes that drug addictions should be treated as a health problem, not as criminal offences.