There continue to be some claims floating around that Trudeau has now gone back on a promise to support existing dispensaries. These claims all point back to a campaign stop he made in Winnipeg in July, 2015.
A few mainstream media sources, mostly supplied by the Canadian Press at the time, claimed or implied that Trudeau said he supported an existing dispensary that had just recently opened down the street from where he was speaking.
The Globe and Mail ran the headline: “Justin Trudeau backs controversial medical marijuana shop in Winnipeg.” From the article:
Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is speaking out in support of a controversial medical marijuana store in Winnipeg.
During a stop in the city on Wednesday, Trudeau said marijuana storefronts like “Your Medical Cannabis Headquarters,” owned by Glenn Price, should be allowed to operate.
The article contains no quote from Trudeau to substantiate these claims of support for this existing, unlicensed dispensary. If Trudeau made a statement in support of the dispensary, it was not quoted by the media in this article.
A request for further information was sent to the Canadian Press. Their reply is that they don’t keep raw tape from that far back, and all they have is what is in the story. What is in the story, however, does not support the headline.
CTVNews also wrote: “Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says marijuana storefronts, like the one selling medical pot on Main Street in Winnipeg, should be allowed to operate.”
As with the Globe and Mail article, it offers no quotes from Trudeau to support this claim, and only references ‘properly licensed dispensaries’, not any existing unlicensed ones. He even then refers to being informed by other systems like the US, which the recent Task Force report reflected. From the same article:
"We have to create an entire system that controls and regulates marijuana that will include medical marijuana and properly licensed dispensaries. How we go about doing that will be deeply informed by the lessons learned by the United States and other places, so we build the right model for Canada," said Trudeau.
This is a theoretical support for future, regulated retail points, commonly referred to as ‘dispensaries’. To imply that this means he supported any existing, unlicensed retail shops operating outside the legal bounds is not accurate. Recall the Liberals’ campaign promise on legalization included creating “new, stronger laws to punish more severely those who... sell it outside of the new regulatory framework.” Not ‘remove existing prohibition laws and make all existing dispensaries legal’.
Cannabis activist Steven Stairs even posted a video with the title "Justin Trudeau Tells Steven Stairs & Glenn Price He Supports Dispensaries". In the video, Price, the owner of the dispensary in question, and Stairs ask Trudeau, point blank, about dispensaries. Trudeau answers with the usual vague comments about strict regulations, and even tells both of them ‘it’s not legal yet’.
Stairs: What about dispensaries, are you okay with dispensaries?
Price: Are you okay with dispensaries?
Trudeau: “Let me speak. Let me speak…. You want to talk about the Federal government attacking you? Let’s talk about the Federal government attacking me. No no. Shhh. Calm down. Please listen. Please listen?"
“I have committed to controlling, regulating marijuana through legalizing it. Dispensaries, medical marijuana, keeping it out of the hands of our kids, keeping it out of the hands of criminals and the black market.”
So Trudeau says the word ‘dispensaries’. He doesn’t say he supports this existing dispensary, or any unlicensed one. To further affirm that point, Trudeau ends their conversation by pointing out it’s not legal yet.
Price: “I hope the Liberals will start standing up with me when I get crucified the next time the police come and arrest us.”
Trudeau: “Well, you know, that…. It’s not legal…. Sorry… It’s not legal yet.” (At this point Trudeau holds Price’s hands and stares into his eyes deeply to seemingly emphasize this point).
So nowhere in any of these existing sources that are making these claims is there actual evidence of Trudeau saying he supports this specific dispensary, or any existing unlicensed ones. And even the dispensary owner in question, who asked him point blank if the Liberals will support his dispensary, is told “It’s not legal yet”.
If there is evidence of Trudeau saying he supports this specific dispensary, or any as yet unlicensed ones, it has yet to surface. The Liberals promised and are so far delivering on a careful, methodical, strict regulatory regime. Not a free-for-all, not a total legitimization of all existing illicit operators.
Featured image via Flickr