Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer recently told the media if his party forms government this fall he would not only keep cannabis legal in Canada, but would support efforts to pardon Canadians with previous convictions for pot possession.
The cannabis industry will be watching the upcoming Canadian federal election closely this coming October. If the ruling Liberal government is ousted, there’s some speculation an incoming Scheer government could potentially move backwards on marijuana reform.
But Scheer, who was previously opposed to legalizing cannabis, told CTV News his Conservative Party now is in favour of continuing the end to prohibition of the drug.
We will maintain…the fact that cannabis is legal, we are not going to change that and we do support the idea of people having those records pardoned
Would a Scheer government loosen regs?
In U.S. states where adult use is legal, government regulators have approached the cannabis industry with a more free enterprise approach than in Canada. States like Colorado and Washington have seen record sales and tax revenues as a result with a more robust legal market allowed to offer a wider range of cannabis products.
But Canadian regulators, both federally and provincially, so far have caused the industry to navigate through a thicket of red tape with heavy restrictions on marketing, packaging and long waits for retail and cultivation licenses. The Canadian industry subsequently has been plagued with supply issues, high prices, and a slow cannabis rollout.
The best example of this issue was in the country’s most populated province in Ontario. When pot became legal in October, the previous Liberal government had drawn up so many restrictions on retail licensing that only an online portal was available to serve consumers. But after an incoming Conservative government shifted policies, it resulted in retail pot shops opening up April 1, resulting in much stronger sales.
But under a Scheer government it’s still early to assess how much it would shift to a laissez faire approach on regulating the cannabis industry.
Last October, Scheer spoke on a Quebec radio station to say if his government is elected it would monitor the rollout and “make necessary corrections.”
The Conservatives have led in the polls since February and would most likely win an election in Canada if it were held today, as they enjoy a five-point lead on average over Liberal rivals. But campaigning has just begun and lots could change in the four months until votes are cast.
Minority vs. Majority
Another factor will be if a Scheer government is formed, would it be a majority or a minority one. Under a minority government it’s much harder to change laws, but regulations could still be altered.
The Conservative health critic Marilyn Gladu would likely be given the important position of Health Minister if her party wins the most seats in October. And she has consistently voiced opposition to home cultivation and would be an unlikely supporter of progressive marijuana policies.
But the rules on home cultivation are written into law in the Cannabis Act, not regulation, so a minority Scheer government would have a more difficult time changing it.
Surely the legal cannabis industry will be watching the Canadian election closely.