“Pass the dutchie to the left-hand side,” he told his colleagues on the Senate floor.
Photo courtesy of Senator Jim Munson
On Tuesday (June 19), Canada’s Senate passed its historic legislation to legalize recreational cannabis from coast-to-coast. On the Senate floor, the proceedings were tense, impassioned, and above all, excruciatingly Canadian.
Before the final vote was made on one of the most groundbreaking pieces of legislation to pass in decades—reversing nearly 100 years of prohibition and pulling a multi-billion dollar industry out of the shadows—one Senator couldn’t resist adding “a little-lighthearted levity” to the debate.
After Senator Leo Housakos issued a harrowing speech lamenting the “egregious and dangerous” impact of cannabis legalization on everything from brain development to trade deals, Senator Jim Munson stood up to issue a response…in the form of a poem.
“The senators came to debate, and debate they did,” began Munson in a public-school-teacher-reading-Dr. Seuss timbre. “What captured their curiosity was cannabis, and should it be legalized, instead of decriminalized. But what they realized is that this was no ordinary issue…” continued the Senator’s poem.
The best part of all came at the end after Munson rhymed about the Senate and House’s back-and-forth considerations of amendments to the Cannabis Act.
“Some were accepted; some were rejected,” continued Munson. “But in the words of a song that some may understand, it is time to pass the bill, pass the dutchie to the left-hand side. Senators, if you don’t understand the last line, I will explain outside. Thank you very much.”
After a chorus of laughter, Senator Yonah Martin, the deputy leader of the Opposition, resumed with the final speech of the night, adding “a few more comments to this very important debate.” But despite her concerns about workplace safety, minors’ exposure to cannabis, and Canada becoming a world exporter of cannabis, her fellow senators presumably already knew which way they wanted to vote. And less than an hour later, the majority of these Senators indeed voted to pass the bill so that Canadians would be able to legally “pass the dutchie to the left-hand side” for the first time in history.
Read the full poem by Sen. Munson here:
The senators came to debate,
and debate they did.
What captured their curiosity was cannabis
and should it be legalized
instead of decriminalized.
But what they realized
is that this was no ordinary issue,
and sides were drawn.
Every day brought a new dawn of ideas.
Some were for and some were against,
and every senator put up a great defence.
Dealing with the black market
as opposed to an open market;
dealing with public health and education,
taking a look at the habits of a new generation.
Questions were asked,
statements were made,
but in the Senate of Canada,
no one was afraid,
afraid to take a stand
because each senator knew they had a hand
in dealing with a bill
which would change the landscape of the land.
At the end of the day,
they amended the bill.
Some were accepted;
some were rejected.
But in the words of a song that some may understand,
it is time to pass the bill,
pass the dutchie to the left-hand side.
Senators, if you don’t understand the last line,
I will explain outside.
Thank you very much.