Marijuana activist Jodie Emery seeks spot on federal task force on pot
Long-time proponent fears harsh 'Harperesque' restrictions on cannabis
High-profile pot activist Jodie Emery wants a seat on the federal task force on legalizing marijuana.
She worries the panel will be stacked with "prohibitionists" who will push for overly restrictive regulations that would limit access to legal cannabis.
Emery has written to Bill Blair, the parliamentary secretary to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, outlining her credentials for the job, including years of research, advocacy and political campaigning.
She has campaigned for legalization in the U.S. and Canada, and has operated marijuana-related businesses in media, retail and service industries. She's also been a media commentator and spoken at international conferences.
"The government's language is all very Harperesque," Emery told CBC News. "It's all about strict control, heavily regulate, additional punishment for those who operate outside the system, heavy enforcement. All this language is worrisome because it suggests we'll just have a new form of prohibition."
Pot bill in spring 2017
Blair is heading up the task force that will review issues related to everything from distribution, labelling to public safety issues, including impaired driving. Details on the composition of the task force have not yet been released.
Health Minister Jane Philpott announced last week that federal legislation to legalize marijuana will be tabled by spring 2017.
Providing the timeline during an address at a special session on drug policy at the UN General Assembly in New York, Philpott stressed the goals are to keep marijuana "out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals."
"We will work with law enforcement partners to encourage appropriate and proportionate criminal justice measures. We know it is impossible to arrest our way out of this problem," she said.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is pushing for an immediate decriminalization of marijuana and for criminal records removed for Canadians convicted of simple possession.
'They're not doing anything except talk'
Emery says continuing to arrest and prosecute Canadian is a huge waste of time and money.
"The government said they're going to legalize it, but basically they're not doing anything except talk," she said. "Their talking points seem very focused on describing marijuana as dangerous and harmful."
In her letter to Blair, Emery said it would be "negligent" for a government to draft legislation about gay marriage, immigration, farming or health care without consulting experts in the field.
She said it would be "an honour" to represent legalization advocates and cannabis consumers who support balanced, evidence-based policy.
Her husband Marc Emery is also a well-known marijuana activist and known as "The Prince of Pot." He spent five years in a U.S. prison for mailing pot seeds to the U.S.