Sustainable cannabis on Green Party’s mind

Published on September 17, 2021 by David Wylie

Imre Szeman, the Green Party candidate in Lake Country—Kelowna spoke to the oz.

Energy-hungry cannabis grow facilities are on the Green Party’s radar.

Imre Szeman, the Green candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country, tells the oz. the main concern with large-scale indoor cannabis operations is power.

“Can there be mandates around what those facilities use as energy?” he asks.

Other industries are being given incentives to reshape, he says, and new cannabis production sites on a large scale have a great opportunity to create solar power-driven facilities.

“The issue with any renewables is going to be Canadian winters,” says Szeman, who adds facilities in colder places like Edmonton are reliant on coal and natural gas.

Indoor facilities aren’t the only challenge to reducing greenhouse gases.

“The other big carbon elephant in the room is agriculture in Canada,” he says.

“The Green Party policy toward any kind of single, mono-crop big agriculture is that it has to start thinking about re-shaping itself for climate adaptation.”

University research chair and professor of communication Arts at the University of Waterloo, Szeman is also the Critic for Climate Change for the Green Party of Canada.

Packaging rules based in anxiety

Szeman stressed evidence-passed policymaking, which is not always the case these days.

For example, strict packaging rules that can impede more sustainable practices are based in the old prohibition mentality.

“I think there’s a carryover anxiety on the part of governments,” he says. “That impossible to remove plastic top is worse than the plastic rings around six packs.”

“Cannabis products continue to be treated as dangerous, and so in need of packaging that’s hard to use that’s supposed to be inaccessible to young people. Something one might be able to do with a cigarette package or a can of beer is not quite what you can do with a cannabis drink or a package.”

Expungement vs. pardons

On social justice, the Green Party platform calls for amnesty for those convicted of simple possession of cannabis. The Greens call for automatic pardons to anyone convicted in the past of simple possession of cannabis as well as ensuring that any records of such offences and circumstances are expunged from police records.

“I think expungement is better than pardoning,” he says.

“Having anything that imputes somebody’s capacities to do anything in their life as a result of a now legal action does not seem to be appropriate. So pardons may not be sufficient.”

Policy dictated by politicking

Szeman says parties that have historically help power—the Liberals and Conservative—are unable to put forward genuine policies.

“A lot of these decisions are so much driven by just politicking, by appealing to a majority, by tip-toeing around the issue, by being very conscious demographically of who the electorate is,” he says.

“Certainly any government would I hope be attentive to what industry tells them about international competition.”


Five-Part 2021 Election Series

 My vote goes to pot

Conservatives could be a friend to weed

Liberals can open doors to cannabis globally

• NDP wants to expunge cannabis records

• Sustainable cannabis on Green Party’s mind