MLA's comparison of cannabis to communism taken out of context, UCP says

Comments made by United Conservative Party MLA Ron Orr that equated smoking marijuana with Chinese communism are being taken out of context, the party’s house leader says.

'The human tragedy of what's going to happen with this has yet to be revealed,' MLA Ron Orr said

United Conservative Party MLA Ron Orr (Legislative Assembly of Alberta)

Comments made by United Conservative Party MLA Ron Orr that equated smoking marijuana with Chinese communism are being taken out of context, the party's house leader says.

"I would have used different language around his argument. I think that Mr. Orr now would like to use different language around it," Jason Nixon said.

"It's important that you look at it in the whole context. Not the spin by Press Progress," he added, referring the left-leaning website that first reported Orr's remarks.

Orr, the MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka, made the remarks in the legislature Wednesday during a debate on Bill 26, an Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis.

Orr compared Canada's upcoming legalization of cannabis to the opium trade in China, and "all the wonderful things that are supposed to be generated from the recreational use of drugs."

"They actually got so serious about it, their whole society was so broken down and debilitated by it, that it contributed to the Chinese Cultural Revolution under the communists, with the execution of thousands of people," Orr said.

"I, for one, am not really willing to go down this road. The human tragedy of what's going to happen with this has yet to be revealed."

The issue took off on social media after NDP MLA Michael Connolly tweeted about Orr's speech.

"UCP MLA Ron Orr just suggested that there will be a communist revolution in Canada because of the legalization of cannabis," he wrote. "Some days…"

Orr did not acknowledge reporters who asked him for comment on his way into question period on Thursday.

Bill 26 regulates how Alberta will sell and distribute cannabis when it becomes legal on July 1, 2018.

The province is proposing to sell cannabis products through privately owned stores and a government-owned website.