WATCH: Justice Minister Peter MacKay believes the RCMP Commissioner has the right to voice his opinion, but he personally disagrees.
OTTAWA – Justice Minister Peter MacKay says he disagrees with the country’s top cop on his assessment that marijuana isn’t “as big a deal as it used to be.”
‘He’s a police officer. He has views but I personally disagree,” MacKay said Wednesday.
In an interview with Global News, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said cultivating marijuana “is not important anymore” and that he’s more concerned with eradicating impaired driving involving both alcohol and drugs.
“I don’t think marijuana usage is as big a deal as it used to be,” Paulson said.
“It’s still vulnerable to exploitation to organized crime, but you know, less and less as it becomes more and more commercially available.”
But MacKay said “it’s a big deal for a lot of people” and suggested that if police are given the option to ticket cannabis users “it actually means more enforcement.”
“I think if you talk to Canadians whose lives have been affected in some cases very negatively by marijuana, they would disagree,” MacKay said.
“We know that there are young people in particular who are very negatively affected by marijuana use, we know that it can have a very severe impact on early childhood development. We know it certainly isn’t a motivator, it doesn’t make people want to get up and go out and lead productive lives.”
Conservative MP David Wilks, who was an RCMP officer for 20 years, also weighed in on Twitter, saying Paulson’s comments are “wrong.”
MacKay said the government is looking at the option put forward by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police to ticket people for possessing small amounts of marijuana, but it doesn’t mean they couldn’t be charged.
“By the way more options doesn’t mean more leniency. It actually means more enforcement,” he said.
When asked when a ticketing regime might be put in place, MacKay said: “We have a lot of justice bills in the House (of Commons) right now, there are more coming. That’s one that we’re looking at. So, we’ll keep you posted.”
MacKay added that medical use is in a different category.
Paulson also said in the interview “the people that use drugs are not the people we got to be bothering” and that some of the “best people” he met working as an RCMP investigator in Vancouver were heroin addicts.
Paulson declined to comment on MacKay’s remarks Wednesday, only to say he agrees that ticketing would result in more enforcement.
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