It's been a while since we've revisited this column, but we just couldn't ignore the gift that Conservative senators gave to us this week with their little trip to Washington, D.C.: Not one "roach" of the week, but three.
Conservative-appointed senators Denise Batters, Claude Carignan, and Pierre-Hughes Boisvenu traveled to Washington on Tuesday, where they met with U.S. Attorney General/Keebler Elf lookalike Jeff Sessions to discuss their concerns about the way cannabis legalization could affect border security and cross-border trade, the black market, and the potential risks associated with cannabis use and possession. Reports from numerous outlets say their meeting ran for approximately 45 minutes.
All three are members of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which is reviewing the bill following its adoption at a second reading in the senate on March 22. (Batters, Carignan and Boisvenu were among the 29 Conservative-appointed senators that voted against the bill, which passed with support from 44 independent senators.)
In an April 4 memo, the three senators describe the motivation behind their visit: "Dissatisfied with the lack of response from Canadian authorities on this subject and given the ambiguous testimony of Trudeau cabinet ministers appearing before several Senate committees, Senators Carignan, Boisvenu and Batters decided to travel to Washington to get a clear picture of the American perspective on this Canadian issue."
There, they met with Sessions as well as officials from U.S. President Trump's administration, senior officials with the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection's Office of Field Operations, as well as the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which refers to legislation in Colorado and Washington as "experiments" in legalization and claims its mandate is to "prevent another big tobacco".
"When we ask questions of the Canadian government, we receive unclear and vague responses which do not satisfy us," wrote Carignan in the memo. "Our role as legislators is to measure all the impacts of bill C-45, and that is what we are doing today by meeting with senior officials of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”
Senators haven't revealed much about what they learned while in Washington, but it's expected that they will bring forward recommendations for C-45 at the next meeting.
Sessions has been a vocal opponent of cannabis legalization for his entire political career, and famously uttered the words, "Good people don't smoke marijuana" in April 2016. In January, Sessions rescinded Obama-era policies that protect states with legal marijuana from federal prosecution.