Stephen Harper's stance on marijuana is well known, but the legal status of pot isn't exactly a subject the prime minister makes a point of talking about.
In 2010, however, Harper gave a very detailed explanation of why he's against liberalizing Canada's marijuana laws. The clip was revived on Reddit this week and quickly rocketed to the top of the page.
Harper gave the interview as part of a YouTube series called Talk Canada, which saw the PM answer questions sent in by web users (you can see the full 40 minute interview here). The most popular subject for questions? Marijuana.
Some of the highlights from the interview make it clear why the video is trending again. You can read some of the most interesting quotations below.
"I've been very fortunate to live a drug-free life, and I don’t meet many people who've led a drug-free life who regret it."
"Even if these things were legalized, I can predict with a lot of confidence that these would never be respectable businesses run by respectable people. Because the very nature of the dependency they create, the damage they create, the social upheaval and catastrophe they create, particularly in third world countries."
"I know some people say if you just legalized it you’d get the money and all would be well. But I think that rests on the assumption that somehow drugs are bad because they’re illegal ... The reason drugs are illegal is because they are bad.
"When people are buying from the drug trade, they are not buying from their neighbour. They are buying from international cartels that are involved in unimaginable violence and intimidation and social disaster and catastrophe all across the world."
"I must admit myself sometimes I’m frustrated by how little impact governments have been able to have on the drug trade internationally. But we should not fool ourselves into thinking that if we somehow stopped trying to deal with it, it would suddenly turn into a nice, wholesome industry. It will never be that."
Recent polls continue to show that, despite Harper's opposition, most Canadians favour decriminalization or legalization of marijuana.
And even while the drug remains illegal, it's clear young Canadians are experimenting with pot in record numbers. A recent survey from UNICEF found more Canadian young people between 11 and 15 years of age smoke pot than anywhere else in the western world.
The Liberals and their new leader Justin Trudeau support legalizing pot and the NDP is flirting with the idea. At least one major Canadian magazine is already speculating about which company will dominate the marijuana market if legalization does happen.
Do you think it's time for Canada's drug laws to change? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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