On Wednesday 29 November 2017, Ron Orr, a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for the United Conservative Party, commented in the assembly that legalizing cannabis could cause a “human tragedy” akin to China’s communist revolution. He is his party’s official culture and tourism spokesman.
Orr acknowledged that cannabis had medical benefits but disapproves of its recreational use. He cited the example of China, where opium use was originally for medical reasons, but the country became dependent on tax revenues from this “fashionable, refined pastime” and was left “broken down and debilitated.” Communist revolution ensued. Under the Cultural Revolution, Orr reminded us, people in their thousands were executed, and “I, for one, am not really willing to go down this road.”
Similarly, Orr claimed, recreational cannabis usage could lead “to other things that are much more dangerous and much more destructive.” Cannabis, he added, “doesn’t lead to the good life – it’s an escape.” He warned that the “human, social cost of this is going to be astronomical” and “nobody’s taken a moment to think about it.” So cannabis legalisation=communist revolution.
The real reason for the revolution
China’s communist revolution was more the product of imperialism by European powers, with the Opium Wars against Britain being particularly traumatic.
He was rightly derided
Greg Clark, the interim leader of the Alberta Party, opined that he found Orr’s remarks “odd” and believed they distracted from what ought to be a discussion of a serious issue. “The rhetoric in that assembly, it baffles me on many days,” he further pronounced. “But to equate cannabis with communism, or whatever the heck he did, it defies belief.”
Danielle Larivee, another Alberta Party MLA who is Minister of Children’s Services, derided Orr for being “inappropriate” and “really ridiculous” and “not contributing in any positive way to the conversation we’re having.”
Michael Connolly, an MLA of the Alberta New Democratic Party, questioned Orr’s “grasp on reality.” He lamented, “Some days …”
On Twitter, Orr was accused of being on the board of a church that ostracised a community member for confessing to being gay and repeatedly voting against marriage equality for gays.
Well, someone defended him
The leader of Orr’s party, Jason Nixon, defended him, stating that while different language would have been a better idea, which perhaps Orr would now do, “what he was talking about was the compassion side of that” and it was important to take Orr’s remarks in context. Orr himself described his point as being that there should be compassion for people who become addicts. Do you believe him?
Cannabis will become legal for recreational use in Canada on July 1 2018. Orr didn’t speak to reporters as he left the house the next day. If he really wanted to get worried about opium, he might be better off concentrating on opiates, the prescription painkillers based on opium which kill thousands of Canadians, not to mention tens of thousands of Usonians, each year. Cannabis has been shown to be a good alternative.