Just a thought… The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world. [Carl Sagan]
So, tomorrow’s a big day – good or bad, depending on your take – in Canadian history. Actually, in world history: we’re only the second nation on Earth (besides Uruguay) to fully legalize cannabis for recreational purposes. In case you’ve been under a rock (or are already an overly enthusiastic user) you probably know that as of tomorrow…well, I’ll let this post, courtesy CBC, fill you in.
Adults in Canada will be legally allowed to:
- purchase fresh or dried cannabis, cannabis oil, plants and seeds for cultivation from either a provincially or territorially regulated retailer, or where this option is not available directly from a federally licensed producer;
- possess up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis or its equivalent in public;
- share up to 30 grams (or its equivalent) of legal cannabis and legal cannabis products with other adults;
- cultivate up to four plants at home (four plants total per household); and
- prepare varying types of cannabis products (e.g., edibles) at home for personal use provided that no dangerous organic solvents are used in the process.
Source: The Government of Canada
There is a lot of talk about the roll out (pardon the pun) of this change to our laws; I’m trying to imagine the days following the eradication of Prohibition when, after years of smuggling or imbibing in speakeasies and secret clubs, alcohol was legal for public consumption again. This change will not be without major speed bumps – those are inevitable – but let me share a few thoughts today.
I don’t hate this. If it helps people who are in pain (and yes, this is non-medical marijuana, so it might well be more about “feeling no pain” than actual pain control), so much the better. How many people do you know who deal with their pain through prescriptions or trips to the liquor store? Plenty, I’m betting. And more that you may not know about.
I have a friend who has chronic back troubles exacerbated by a car accident last year, and is also dealing with insomnia that accompanies menopause. She partakes; it’s legal here in BC. I had the chance to go with her to a dispensary last week, as she’s concerned about what tomorrow’s changes are going to bring and how it’s going to alter supplies, distribution and so on.
First off, this dispensary (some of which look like Apple stores – all white and shiny) felt to me to be a little sketchy, in the basement of a small corner apartment building at a busy intersection. Although it was brightly lit and a sign on the door stated that there was no cash inside, I felt a bit uneasy, having never knowingly entered a place that sold weed before. I asked my friend if she was sure we should go in and I got laughed at.
Inside the small store, a couple of employees stood behind the counter. There were event posters on the wall, a small ATM in the corner and there was no discernible odour. Except for the merchandise (and a lack of guitars hanging on the wall), it could have been a pawn shop.
So I took the opportunity to risk looking really “square” (does anyone say that anymore?) and ask some questions – for you and for me. I asked them what’s going to be different. The nice (admittedly mellow) young man behind the counter swept his arm across their display case and said, “All of this.” When I asked what he meant, his co-worker said that it’s like how cigarettes went underground (behind display boards in stores); this is so that no one – the concern is children – will see little tumbleweeds or devices with which to smoke or light them.
There were no cannabis gummies to be seen; they’re illegal on the island, the fellow said. But there were little bottles of tinctures, fat and firm pre-rolled joints and lots of other things I couldn’t begin to identify and was feeling way too “parental” to ask about. My friend bought cannibis oil in capsules (some fifty of them for less than a large bottle of Crown Royal) and we were on our way.
Why am I not against this? Because I think it would be hypocritical to allow alcohol to be served nearly everywhere and totally without stigma, but to be against a drug that is not, in most opinions, the dreaded “gateway” that opponents have warned against for decades. Of course, life is better with sobriety, using meditation, prayer, yoga or any other means by which you deal with all of the challenges it throws your way.
Many users eschew booze for its cost, physical toll, negative mood-altering capabilities, calories and other detrimental effects. But that’s not how some people choose to navigate it, and having control over the substances that they are imbibing may be a more positive step than being subject to whatever manufacturing whims a dispensary’s supplier may indulge in.
I am wholeheartedly and unequivocally against anyone driving impaired – whether by drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel, or having smoked a joint, taken a capsule or gummed a gummy. Taking control of a vehicle whilst under the influence of anything (including distraction) should mean licence suspension or termination. Period. Laws should be as clear and as firm with cannibis consumers as they are with blood alcohol levels.
Then there’s where you partake: from what I read in online reviews about dispensaries, many employees are happy samplers of the inventory. Some customers complain about having to pass through those acrid clouds on their way past or into a store. Can you just imagine if the cashier at the liquor store had a mickey of Jack Daniels going under the counter? I mean, it’s probably happened, but these are just some more of the lines that should be drawn as we move into the future.
Oh and finally, here’s what I really don’t like: that sickly sweet smoke. As something that has been basically verboten all of my life, my head still pops up like in a game of Whack-a-Mole when I smell it. “Someone’s breaking the law!” my inner Deputy Davis voice screams. Of course, they’re not now. But that doesn’t meant that the smell isn’t (to me) nauseating when I have to pass through a cloud of it. I hope that users comes to realize that, as turned off as they would be passing through a crowd of tobacco smokers, they’re doing the same to others around them.
The times they are a-changin’ and who knows what tomorrow will bring? For many, there will be nothing noticeable; for others, it will be a time of adjustment. While still more are angry about Canada moving in this direction, I think we just need to stop and look at our society’s relationship with alcohol before we get too tied up in the morality of it all. I’m content to see where this goes. Laws have been changed and then altered and amended before. Nothing here is carved in stone(rs).