The year-end interview: MP McLeod not yet set to go green
It may be legal in Washington and Colorado, and B.C.’s mayors and councillors may be calling for it above the border, but marijuana isn’t likely to get the same treatment from the Conservative government in 2013.
Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod said there’s no plan to loosen restrictions around pot — and doesn’t think much of the idea herself.
“I personally have looked at some of the research that’s more recent and have some concerns in terms of the health impacts that are becoming more and more known,” she told KTW during an end-of-the-year interview.
In particular, McLeod said, she’s concerned about the impact marijuana may have on mental health, given a number of recent studies that have strengthened the link between marijuana use and schizophrenia.
“I think there’s a lot of unknowns and, really to legalize a substance that has significant potential for harm isn’t where we’re planning to go right now.”
Instead, McLeod said, the federal government will focus on changes to its medical-marijuana system, announced recently by Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq.
The proposed system will set up a network of commercial pot growers to supply those with marijuana prescriptions. Under the current system, patients can choose to get a licence to grow their own at home, or have a friend grow for them — a setup that hasn’t found favour with local governments that must field complaints from angry neighbours.
Health Canada expects the new set of pot regulations will almost double the cost of medical pot — to almost $9 a gram from $5 a gram.
The government is accepting public comments on the changes until Feb. 28, 2013.
McLeod, too, has been doing some public consultation lately.
In her last mailout to the riding, she included a questionnaire asking for constituents’ thoughts on pipelines.
So far, she said, the results are somewhat surprising.
“Often, when I send these messages out, people that are concerned are very apt to make their opinions heard — but, in this case, it was close to 70 per cent saying we support pipelines,” she said.
The survey was sent to every home in the riding and has generated about 1,000 responses so far, McLeod said.
The questions didn’t discuss specific pipeline projects, but asked for a general opinion of them with space for comments.
“I’m the first to admit these are not scientifically designed surveys, but what they do provide is a snapshot,” she said.
Generally, positive responses included some sort of caveat — responsible environmental management being a big one.
That’s in line with McLeod’s own stated view on proposed projects like Enbridge’s Northern Gateway line and Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain expansion.
“I believe we need to have an environmentally sound assessment process and we need to let those processes happen with the National Energy Board,” she said. “If it meets sound environmental requirements, then I think we need to find access.”
McLeod said oil access is a critical issue for the country’s future prosperity.
“Whether a pipeline goes east, west, south or north, if it meets strong environmental standards, I support them.”