The New Democratic Party is trying to clear the air on leader Tom Mulcair's position on pot after the Young Liberals, hoping to score with younger Canadians on a day celebrated in marijuana culture, questioned his commitment to decriminalization.
Mulcair had created confusion about his party's position on March 18 when he said decriminalization would be "a mistake" because of the health risks associated with marijuana currently on the market.
But NDP spokesman George Soule said Friday that Mulcair was actually talking about legalization and said the NDP leader doesn't believe anyone should go to jail for possessing a small amount of marijuana.
Mulcair has also suggested having the issue reviewed by a royal commission.
The Young Liberals said earlier Friday they said would be distributing handouts and putting up posters quoting Mulcair's earlier comment on decriminalization.
"This is a new NDP, and we are going to tell people about it," said Samuel Lavoie, president of the Young Liberals of Canada, in a statement issued on April 20, a day widely known in marijuana culture as "4/20," when thousands gather for "smoke-ins" in cities across North America.
"A lot of young Canadians liked Mr. Layton, who was for the decriminalization of marijuana, but we are going to introduce them to Mr. Mulcair now and my guess is they are not going to be happy with his policies," said Lavoie.
Liberals voted to legalize marijuana
During last year's election campaign, Layton had shied away from an outright policy on decriminalization, instead suggesting that the time had come for a full debate, what he referred to as "an adult conversation" on the subject.
At its convention earlier this year, the Liberal Party passed a resolution in favour of legalizing marijuana.
The resolution, pushed for by the Young Liberals, is not binding on the party leadership, but Lavoie had said he would like to see it as part of the party's platform in 2015.
Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae would not say at the time if he favoured legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana, saying he was "comfortable" with the spirit of the resolution but that the party would have to look at the practical implications of turning it into official party policy.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a surprising admission earlier this week at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia when he told reporters that existing strategies to combat the drug trade are "not working."
Harper has not embraced legalization, however, saying April 16 in Santiago, Chile that "very, very few leaders think that anything should be done other than fighting this particular scourge on our populations."
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