Liberals will never best Conservatives on the “tough on crime” question, that’s a bread and butter issue for their side. Liberals never win when put in reactive mode, they simply won’t persuade voters trying to mirror Conservative approaches. It is here that marijuana legalization provides a clear stepping off point, rather than reacting to Conservative offensives, misinformations, we offer a decidedly different approach, one that actually has some popular appeal. The entire crime question will be debated on this point, on ground chosen by Liberals, this would be the lightning rod question. This debate puts down a clear Liberal marker, we say the war on drugs has failed and here’s an alternative direction that addresses that failure in progressive fashion.
In addition, there is an economic argument to be made, one that attempts to take money out of the hands of criminals, into the hands of government, for the betterment of the citizenry. We are not talking about chump change, tax revenue in the billions, we can pivot off this legalization in a positive way. I would argue that marijuana taxation revenue be redirected into drug education campaigns, expenditures to focus on true scourges like crystal meth, rather than a tax grab, demonstrate how this additional money can still assist in dealing with drug related problems. With this type of proposal, you somewhat blunt “condone” criticism, because you use these additional revenues to attack certain problems. Use the tax revenue to further educate on the dangers of drugs, that avenue addresses society validating drug use through legalization. We accept that marijuana is here to stay, you can either continue with the futility approach or accept reality and use the industry to allow for greater focus on other drugs, rehab programs, education, etc. I see a fleshed out new tax revenue allocation proposal as a compelling pivot to completely reset our overall approach.
Philosophically, there is also a “liberty” argument to be made, this issue transfers responsibility to the individual, a notion which clearly has appeal within certain subsets. I think Liberals will be surprised who gets “turned on” by the legalization argument, rather than a sideline distraction, it is a motivating factor that shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. I predict a candidate for Liberal leadership(assuming we actually have a race, not a coronation)waves this legalization flag and in so doing shakes up the race on the “supporter” front. Legalization proponents from all corners would have little hesitation becoming supporters, I guarantee a few motivated individuals could sign up impressive numbers under this signature banner.
Rather than some trivial proposal that fails to address the real concerns of Canadians, I see this marijuana legalization idea as ONE starting off point that can bring true differentiation, as well as add fresh perspectives to an already well defined political entity. Yes, Liberals must craft a credible economic argument, ditto for health care, pensions, taxation, the deficit, etc, etc. Acknowledging this obvious fact doesn’t mean the legalization question is a distraction or be abandoned, in fact it can be a demographic compliment that weaves within a greater, coherent direction. I see potentially fascinating days ahead…