by Brynn Jones
Oct 17, 2018, a day many never thought would happen, as Canada lifts Cannabis prohibition to protect us from ourselves; but what does it all mean? First we must look at what brought the mass hysteria that we’ve called the war on drugs.
In 1907, a set of laws was introduced to address excessive opium use on the west coast by the then predominately Asian population who had brought the cultural practice from home. The majority of Asian immigrant workers traveled across the pacific in search of work and a better life, often only to be exploited and used as a substandard, semi-slave labour force. With little to no integration into western society the mainly Chinese workers adapted to life as best they could often consuming culturally based teas, medicines, drugs and other products familiar to them from thousands of years of usage. Recreational substances such as opium, cannabis, kratom, green tea and many others were revered for spiritual uplifting and community connection, as well as for recreation, medicine, and communal ritual, bringing the community together through a common shared experience. As with any product or medicine it can be abused and is often over marketed to vulnerable people.
The culture of opium spread to the wealthier and at the time ‘higher-class’ population of European descent. The fear of foreign influence upon their families and society was perceived as a threat. Laws and penalties were quickly adopted to punish and restrict these practices, and a classification of drug user/criminal was born.
Cannabis was added to the Confidential Restricted List in 1923 under the Narcotics Drug Act Amendment Bill, after a vague reference to a “new drug” during a late night session of the House of Commons on April 23, 1923. CANNABIS SATIVA/Marijuana was selected as the next target in the eyes of politicians and police. And as with many publicly perceived evils, depending on popular opinion and politicians willing to capitalize and seize control over that same public through fear, funding was found to fight it. For many decades propaganda claimed cannabis as a Mexican wickedness, Marijuana its new name, created and adopted by Canadian and American governments to fuel ‘reefer madness’ hysteria amongst their citizens. Again the perceived risk of foreign culture and vices threatened the predominantly European based population, or at least that was the story being sold.
In the 1980’s under president Ronald Reagan, the official War on Drugs was launched and cannabis was listed amongst the top three of dangerous substances. Prohibition of cultivation, sale, use and possession soon led to ever increasing penalties and prison sentencing. At the same time cannabis became the worlds most widely used
“drug”. This fueled a two-sided war between criminal factions seeking to exploit the plant and the governments who sought to eradicate it. The people, the ones they set out to supposedly protect, were the biggest casualty, as everyday many were punished for what is now seen as a ridiculous and often victimless ‘crime’.
Now it’s 2018, and it seems like we have always had a War on Drugs. Reefer madness is part of our culture with almost 100 years of anti drug wars and mis-education, with the effect of many media sources as well as an ever-growing movement of freedom fighters no longer trusting the too familiar propaganda, scare tactics and war mongering. Legalization, regulation, taxation. This is the ‘new’ rhetoric of ‘our’ leaders on the subject. They will allow access, regulate the quality and strength, tax and control the industry. Why? To save us from ourselves. It seems we cannot be trusted to handle such a dangerous and profitable product, or so we are told. Cannabis, no longer the Devil’s Lettuce but now a commodity that looks like it will bring BILLIONS to the few who have been granted permits, and possibly much more to the governments authorizing the small freedom of enjoying one of Nature’s gifts.
So we wait to see what we will be permitted to buy, what our government will deem ‘safe’, what production practices will meet the demand for industry whereas profit and personal safety are concerned. We have already seen hypocritical violations by the very companies supposedly set up to ‘keep us safe’, such as pesticides and fertilizers that we as true cannabis loving people would NEVER put on a plant.
Alas, this is legalization. In some ways it’s a success of the counter-culture, one of the few times the people have had a voice and where peaceful dissent has had a positive effect. Democracy works, kind of. Canada will open either government stores or private retail outlets that must purchase from the Cannabis Control Board of their respective province. The average Canadian will now (Oct. 17) be permitted to purchase and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower (buds) or an equivalent amount of processed product. It will be permissible to gift up to 30 grams as long as there is no exchange of taxable funds or services.
The independent and craft cannabis industry having done a fairly good job of production by themselves has been forsaken. The pioneers and activists who struggled and suffered under the old regime have been left outside with the other outcasts. Now we there will be a two-sided cannabis culture. The war on drugs will continue, become a war of taxation of drugs: an imperfect solution to a seemingly simple problem, and all about control.
Consumers are being put in the position to choose between a regulated and possibly inferior government approved system and a non-regulated, non-taxed, free system of trade and commerce. In the day and age of cryptocurrencies used to avoid excessive oversight it is my opinion that the people are not yet done speaking out.
Will we see the system fall into chaos by over taxation and a reduction in general quality of products that will inflate an already massive black market lacking standards and safety? One side declares success as the tax dollars roll in, the other gets even more harsh and unfair treatment. Only you the people will decide where to stand, freedom of choice, democratic process and free speech are our tools.
CEO Mariceuticals Inc
World Director Cannabis for Sick Children Org
& Founder of the BrincoGroup of Companies