Simms calls for mature debate on pot issue

Andrea Gunn
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Liberal MP admits to using marijuana, comes out in favour of legalization

Scott Simms

One might say the national debate over the past number of weeks has gone up in smoke – the marijuana issue has resurfaced again, and this time, with a vengeance. The Canadian Association of Police Chiefs issued a release last month in favour of ticketing for possession of small amounts of pot – a stance echoed by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary's Police Chief Bob Johnston.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau also made headlines last month when he admitted he has not only used marijuana but has used it while he was a sitting member of parliament. Since then, a number of other politicians have opened up about their take on the pot debate, and even their own use. The Harper Government has come out saying they are seriously looking at the recommendation made by the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs while simultaneously condemning Trudeau for promoting drug use to children by admitting he has smoked the stuff.

When posed the question, Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor Liberal MP Scott Simms didn't hesitate in admitting he has smoked marijuana.

“Yes, I've done it, and guess what? I inhaled too,” Simms said (making reference to the Bill Clinton admission that he had smoked but “never inhaled.”)

When asked if he had smoked as a sitting member of parliament, however, Simms said he had no comment.

“I've never performed my job high or drunk, as for outside of my job, that's for me,” Simms said. “I didn't get into office personally to talk about my Friday nights with friends and what exactly I do.”

This wouldn't have been the first time Simms has been open about breaking the law, in February of 2011 he was part of a protest against snowmobile laws that involved illegally riding across Terra Nova National Park, a prohibited area.

Simms said though he has issues with current pot laws, he has no plans to light up a joint on Parliament Hill in protest. He did say, however, he thinks it's time for mature debate about the country's pot laws. Like his colleague Trudeau, Simms said he's in favour of legalization and regulation, not decriminalization of pot.

“It's not about putting marijuana on every street corner and that everybody can sign up to sell it, that's actually what's happening right now. When it's unregulated, people can sell it to anybody,” Simms said.

Simms said he doesn't buy the argument that legalization will make the drug more accessible, and said he thinks putting up strict regulations around the sale of marijuana much the same as the tobacco and alcohol industries would be the way to go.

“The majority of Canadians want decriminalization or legalization, one or the other, now the police are saying they want a ticketable offense. There are, I think, nine states that are formalizing the legalization of marijuana in the United States,” Simms said. “Marijuana is everywhere, and we need have a mature conversation about this to make sure that we keep it out of the hands of kids...and to keep it (out of the hands) of criminals.”

Simms said he takes issue with the Government's response to Trudeau's admission to toking, and said it detracts from the quality of the debate.

“When Stephen Harper says Justin Trudeau is promoting kids to smoke pot it makes me very angry,” said Simms. “Last year (Harper) had a photo op where he was in a tavern drinking a beer, and he admitted he likes his occasional beer, is that promoting beer to kids? I think that's a far fetched thing to say, why is he saying this about marijuana? This is an example of where the Conservatives don't want to engage in a mature conversation.”

Unlike other issues Simms' constituents might discuss with him, he said people are much more reluctant to talk about marijuana legalization.

“It's easy for people to voice their concern against marijuana use like the legalization or the regulation of marijuana but its not so easy when you're in favour of that because it is illegal,” he said. “But if someone calls my office to voice their opinion, they can call me anonymously and I will never tell anyone where I got the call from...I would love to hear people's opinions.”

agunn@advertisernl.ca

Organizations: Canadian Association of Police Chiefs, Harper Government, Conservatives

Geographic location: Terra Nova National Park, United States

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Jim
    September 10, 2013 - 05:23

    I do not disagree with Mr Simms that this issue deserves debate, however, I would like him to discuss his thoughts on his leader as well. Mr Trudeau has inserted the pot issue into a Liberal platform that is rather vague about any other specifics. Mr Trudeau has no details on his party's plans for the economy, foreign policy etc that he is willing to pass on to the electorate. His only solid position on anything seems to be his will to legalize marijuana. Maybe if he gets his way the rest of us will slip into some smoke filled oblivion and not care that he seems to be void on any specifics. I also object to the audacity of his pronouncement that he smoked marijuana with friends as a sitting Member of Parliament. In his mind this is just a statement that provides transparency to the public. I am curious that this was not announced the day after the event occurred. I am not aware that this transparency was out in the open as he ran for the liberal leadership. It seems that transparency is useful when it deflects the absence of any substance on how he would run the country. It has fed the media with a new issue that didn't even seem to be on the list of concerns of the electorate prior to the "brave confession". I suppose that if the Liberal leader can get the people to be more concerned with pot then they need not worry about the economy, health care or taxation. Can Mr Simms or Mr Trudeau explain to me, now that the Liberal Leader has made his admission to smoking dope as a sitting MP, if it is okay for me to break laws that I think are silly. Mr Trudeau made a choice to break the law instead of trying to change it. He (and Mr Simms) seem to gloss over the fact that he knowingly broke the law. Of course in their minds this may be a silly law and should be changed. Does this give the rest of us the right to break laws that we don't agree with? The leader of the Liberals has given me the impression that this is alright and that because he doesn't agree with the law then there doesn't need to be any consequences for breaking it. Since it took so long for Mr Trudeau to make his public confession to free his soul in such a transparent manner can I expect more insight into his likes and dislikes in the future? We now know that he is not a believer in Canada's dope laws and so he doesn't feel that there is any problem with not adhering to them. Maybe the Leader isn't particularly satisfied with campaign financing laws. We are certainly aware that previous Liberal Leaders weren't adverse to taking paper bags stuffed with money and breaking the law. Does Mr Trudeau believe that these laws are antiquated? He has come forth and given us a glimpse of his character by flaunting the marijuana laws. Can it be that we will see more confessions down the road? He has set a precedent. If he doesn't like a law then it is okay to ignore it just as long as you are transparent about it when it is convenient. I really wonder if this is "leadership".

  • Jim
    September 10, 2013 - 05:22

    I do not disagree with Mr Simms that this issue deserves debate, however, I would like him to discuss his thoughts on his leader as well. Mr Trudeau has inserted the pot issue into a Liberal platform that is rather vague about any other specifics. Mr Trudeau has no details on his party's plans for the economy, foreign policy etc that he is willing to pass on to the electorate. His only solid position on anything seems to be his will to legalize marijuana. Maybe if he gets his way the rest of us will slip into some smoke filled oblivion and not care that he seems to be void on any specifics. I also object to the audacity of his pronouncement that he smoked marijuana with friends as a sitting Member of Parliament. In his mind this is just a statement that provides transparency to the public. I am curious that this was not announced the day after the event occurred. I am not aware that this transparency was out in the open as he ran for the liberal leadership. It seems that transparency is useful when it deflects the absence of any substance on how he would run the country. It has fed the media with a new issue that didn't even seem to be on the list of concerns of the electorate prior to the "brave confession". I suppose that if the Liberal leader can get the people to be more concerned with pot then they need not worry about the economy, health care or taxation. Can Mr Simms or Mr Trudeau explain to me, now that the Liberal Leader has made his admission to smoking dope as a sitting MP, if it is okay for me to break laws that I think are silly. Mr Trudeau made a choice to break the law instead of trying to change it. He (and Mr Simms) seem to gloss over the fact that he knowingly broke the law. Of course in their minds this may be a silly law and should be changed. Does this give the rest of us the right to break laws that we don't agree with? The leader of the Liberals has given me the impression that this is alright and that because he doesn't agree with the law then there doesn't need to be any consequences for breaking it. Since it took so long for Mr Trudeau to make his public confession to free his soul in such a transparent manner can I expect more insight into his likes and dislikes in the future? We now know that he is not a believer in Canada's dope laws and so he doesn't feel that there is any problem with not adhering to them. Maybe the Leader isn't particularly satisfied with campaign financing laws. We are certainly aware that previous Liberal Leaders weren't adverse to taking paper bags stuffed with money and breaking the law. Does Mr Trudeau believe that these laws are antiquated? He has come forth and given us a glimpse of his character by flaunting the marijuana laws. Can it be that we will see more confessions down the road? He has set a precedent. If he doesn't like a law then it is okay to ignore it just as long as you are transparent about it when it is convenient. I really wonder if this is "leadership".

  • Jim
    September 10, 2013 - 05:21

    I do not disagree with Mr Simms that this issue deserves debate, however, I would like him to discuss his thoughts on his leader as well. Mr Trudeau has inserted the pot issue into a Liberal platform that is rather vague about any other specifics. Mr Trudeau has no details on his party's plans for the economy, foreign policy etc that he is willing to pass on to the electorate. His only solid position on anything seems to be his will to legalize marijuana. Maybe if he gets his way the rest of us will slip into some smoke filled oblivion and not care that he seems to be void on any specifics. I also object to the audacity of his pronouncement that he smoked marijuana with friends as a sitting Member of Parliament. In his mind this is just a statement that provides transparency to the public. I am curious that this was not announced the day after the event occurred. I am not aware that this transparency was out in the open as he ran for the liberal leadership. It seems that transparency is useful when it deflects the absence of any substance on how he would run the country. It has fed the media with a new issue that didn't even seem to be on the list of concerns of the electorate prior to the "brave confession". I suppose that if the Liberal leader can get the people to be more concerned with pot then they need not worry about the economy, health care or taxation. Can Mr Simms or Mr Trudeau explain to me, now that the Liberal Leader has made his admission to smoking dope as a sitting MP, if it is okay for me to break laws that I think are silly. Mr Trudeau made a choice to break the law instead of trying to change it. He (and Mr Simms) seem to gloss over the fact that he knowingly broke the law. Of course in their minds this may be a silly law and should be changed. Does this give the rest of us the right to break laws that we don't agree with? The leader of the Liberals has given me the impression that this is alright and that because he doesn't agree with the law then there doesn't need to be any consequences for breaking it. Since it took so long for Mr Trudeau to make his public confession to free his soul in such a transparent manner can I expect more insight into his likes and dislikes in the future? We now know that he is not a believer in Canada's dope laws and so he doesn't feel that there is any problem with not adhering to them. Maybe the Leader isn't particularly satisfied with campaign financing laws. We are certainly aware that previous Liberal Leaders weren't adverse to taking paper bags stuffed with money and breaking the law. Does Mr Trudeau believe that these laws are antiquated? He has come forth and given us a glimpse of his character by flaunting the marijuana laws. Can it be that we will see more confessions down the road? He has set a precedent. If he doesn't like a law then it is okay to ignore it just as long as you are transparent about it when it is convenient. I really wonder if this is "leadership".

  • ttan
    September 09, 2013 - 15:30

    I agree with most on here and the politicians who have fessed up on marijuana usage are just showing that not only do everyday successful Canadians smoke marijuana, but very successful canadians and people in the media as well. The injustice which has been carried out on law abiding citizens by way of possession charges for small amounts is ridiculous. People like harper make me very uneasy as they have never smoked it (due to asthma) and harper knows that marijuana can be consumed (without smoking), but him being prime minister, I am sure he already knows that.

  • ttan
    September 09, 2013 - 15:28

    I agree with most on here and the politicians who have fessed up on marijuana usage are just showing that not only do everyday successful Canadians smoke marijuana, but very successful canadians and people in the media as well. The injustice which has been carried out on law abiding citizens by way of possession charges for small amounts is ridiculous. People like harper make me very uneasy as they have never smoked it (due to asthma) and harper knows that marijuana can be consumed (without smoking), but him being prime minister, I am sure he already knows that.

  • ttan
    September 09, 2013 - 15:26

    I agree with most on here and the politicians who have fessed up on marijuana usage are just showing that not only do everyday successful Canadians smoke marijuana, but very successful canadians and people in the media as well. The injustice which has been carried out on law abiding citizens by way of possession charges for small amounts is ridiculous. People like harper make me very uneasy as they have never smoked it (due to asthma) and harper knows that marijuana can be consumed (without smoking), but him being prime minister, I am sure he already knows that.

  • ttan
    September 09, 2013 - 15:24

    I agree with most on here and the politicians who have fessed up on marijuana usage are just showing that not only do everyday successful Canadians smoke marijuana, but very successful canadians and people in the media as well. The injustice which has been carried out on law abiding citizens by way of possession charges for small amounts is ridiculous. People like harper make me very uneasy as they have never smoked it (due to asthma) and harper knows that marijuana can be consumed (without smoking), but him being prime minister, I am sure he already knows that.

  • won't vote liberal
    September 07, 2013 - 20:56

    gutless mp

  • moose hunter in central
    September 07, 2013 - 20:47

    ok scotty boy, never mind mind pot? when are you going to explain why you voted for that useless gun registry? during the last election you promised to vote against it, but when iggy said hold party lines and vote in favour, you did just that. you took your party over those who gave you your seat. you got your last vote from me scotty boy, so quit the politics, and get lost.

  • Johnboy
    September 06, 2013 - 17:44

    A great role model for our youth.Is it worth it just to brown up to your buddy justine?

  • John
    September 06, 2013 - 11:26

    The benefits of marijuana are plenty. The only reason it's illegal is the Hearst family had acquired millions of acres of forestland in the early 1930's and intended to turn it into paper for publishing and Pierre Dupont held patent rights to the sulfuric-adic, wood-pulp process. Also, in 1937 Dupont patented nylon rope made from synthetic chemicals. First step, get rid of the competiton. Hemp paper and hemp rope. In 1937, Popular Science magazine called hemp "The New Billion-Dollar Crop". A machine that simplified the hemp papermaking process had just been invented, but the potential was never realized because of greed. Marijuana has a time and place for recreational use. Just because something is legal doesn't mean everyone is going to be at it or at it all the time. I'm sure there's ways to test to see if someone is under the influence, just like alcohol. People can grow this with little effort and that's the way it should be. I think the biggest obstacle in this fight is getting it past one of the major puppeteers, the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Jill
    September 05, 2013 - 22:07

    I agree with Scott. This whole marijuana "story" is superficial to the real problems in society, one of them being prescription drug misuse and abuse. And it starts with the medical system itself and over indulgence in prescribing narcotics, to name just one type of substance. So Harper, let's penalize against marijuana usage but allow too many people to drive our streets, work, operate heavy machinery, etc while taking copius amounts of morphine. Because that "high" must be okay because it is legal. And this just barely illustrates a fraction of the prescription problem.

  • pothead
    September 05, 2013 - 10:32

    this fellow is out to lunch when it comes to pot. what does the united states have to do with Canada? your mp states he wants to keep pot out of the hands of kids and criminals. it couldn't be done 50 years ago, and it can't be done today. so stop playing politics on this issue.

    • doug
      September 06, 2013 - 17:42

      Ok pothead, have you ever heard of marc emery?, the prince of pot?, ring any bells?. "stop playing politics on this issue" what an odd statement to make when politicians are talking about it, admitting they smoked it and trudeau is including it in his platform. I think you should take another hit there hothead...lol

  • martin
    September 05, 2013 - 08:41

    Well, it's about time, don't you find it odd that since two states in the USA legalized marijuana the debate has taken off here,I guess when the dog shakes the tail wags, Canada being the tail.

  • Ng
    September 05, 2013 - 07:51

    I am completely and utterly disgusted. Marijuanna is currently illegal. So you obviously know a seller , how dare you know this information and not report it, being in your position. Just to support your own illegal habit, yeah you are sending quite the attitude to the people you represent, shame on you

  • angus snook
    September 05, 2013 - 07:46

    I'm a regular pot smoker and think it should be legalized...ya never see two guys fighting over a blunt but if they drinking you'll see a lot of fighting....big difference in pot and alchol but a lot of people are just to ignorant about the difference...maybe we all should protest and let the government hear our voices...we are the people who make our government...maybe its time we the people take this matter furrther....

  • Linda
    September 05, 2013 - 06:13

    Simms, if you and Trudeau, did any kind of dope, Then he should be in court, facing charges, no and or but's about it.

  • moose hunter in central
    September 04, 2013 - 21:29

    andrea: this mp is just playing politics with this pot issue to deflect answering why he went against the wishes of the voters and voted in favour of that useless gun registry which is now history thanks to the conservatives. when it was time for the vote, his leader at the time, IGGY said hold party lines and vote for (see parliment of Canada website) or face consequences. when iggy said jump, this mp said how high !