Things sure change — or at least they circle back to where they began.
Of course, I am
refering to the Cannabis Act, which allows for the legal use of
marijuana, subject to various conditions and regulations. I suggest
reading the act before celebrating any newfound freedoms since it
requires focus. Speaking of which, the act now allows the federal
government to focus its legislative powers against an even more
addictive, notorious and dangerous drug: sugar.
will cannabis legalization affect Canadian Society? Recent statistics
suggest that five million Canadians use cannabis at least once a month.
We could expect perhaps a 20-per-cent increase after legalization. This
column intends to examine this question over a four-part series, more or
less depending upon how the home grow-op works out.
by maintaining focus, we intend to cover the history, the legislation,
the potential impacts and some guessing on what the future might hold.
how did most of us become so conservative (old fogie)? Cannabis can be
found in various forms throughout various millennia. Cannabis use dates
back to at least the third millennium BCE, when the plant was valued for
its use for fibre, food, medicine and its psychoactive properties in
recreation and religion. Hemp fibres could be found in 10,000-year-old
Chinese pottery. For the record, industrial hemp contains far less of
the psychoactive drug THC. So, like some members of the Senate, cannabis
has been around for a while.
Canada, drug regulation started back in 1908. Here, William Lyon
Mackenzie King, then deputy minister of labour, produced a report that
culminated in the Opium Act. King partook in spiritualism and mediums to
stay in contact with the deceased, showing that drugs were not required
for mind-expanding exercises.
Shortly after this, a moral panic began. Emily Murphy contributed to this panic through her writing The Black Candle.
Some of her writings under the pen name Janey Canuck made their way
into Maclean’s. Including some dubious stereotypes and questionable
anecdotes, Murphy pushed for the cannabis ban. Under the chapter
“Marahuana—A New Menace” she points out there are three ways out from
the regency of this addiction:
“1st—Insanity, 2nd—Death, 3rd—Abandonment. This is assuredly a direful trinity . . . ”
leaves us on the triceratops’ three-pointed horned dilemma. We would
only point out that this appears to be have been written before Canada
imported the letter ‘J’ from other members of the Commonwealth and the
title bears a striking IP infringement by a later contender . . . George
Lucas’ The Phantom Menace.
We assume no cause of action exists since at least 20 years had passed
since its release. Mind you, some still harbour the thought of a legal
process to eliminate Jar Jar Binks.
such as Catherine Carstairs question Murphy’s “contribution” toward the
war on drugs. More than likely the prohibition came from when the
director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics returned from the discussion
for control of the drug at the League of Nations. This should not be
confused with the DC Comics Justice League. Although those superheroes
would have a tough time, since the drug-use problem is so diffuse. It’s
finally made the big leagues by being included on the restricted list
with the 1923 Narcotic Drug Act. As with all legislation, one would
think this solved the problem, but cannabis use continued to grow along
with the number of prosecutions.
No discussion of an ethical dilemma would be complete without acknowledging the variously named film that went by Doped Youth, Tell Your Children! and most famously known as Reefer Madness.
Produced by a church group in 1936 as a morality fable, the film was
purchased by Dwain Esper, an American producer and director who added
some additional salacious scenes and showed it on the exploitation
Admittedly, I did
not even realize that this was a thing until I looked it up. But in any
event, critics ranked it as the worst movie ever made.
movie dramatizes how marijuana use leads to madness, murder and mayhem.
The movie resurfaced as a satire for cannabis policy reform. The new
colourized version now shows the colour of the exhaled smoke reflecting
the emotion of the person: green, purple, etc. It’s pretty awesome.
the ’60s, the drug culture surged owing to the hippie-psychedelic ethos
of the time. This conclusion sprung from the Senate Special Committee
on Illegal Drugs in 2002.
what the senate probably looked liked at the time, sprung probably does
not capture the situation. You should insert whatever verb comes to
mind when a rusty machine attempts to move forward on something. Crank
The medical case for cannabis made its way in the Ontario Court of Appeal in R. v. Parker. The Supreme Court in R. v. Malmo-Levine and R. v. Caine
in 2003 confirmed that the federal government had the authority to
criminalize cannabis. This was unanimous, which is equivalent to the
court saying, “Of course, the feds can legislate this. What have you
The decriminalization initiative crept forward with
the Le Dain report in 1972, suggesting the removal of criminal
penalties. In 2003, then-Prime Minister Jean Chrétien did attempt to
decriminalize possession by legislating that 15 grams and less would
only result in a fine. However, this doobie attempt eventually went out.
Dubious. I meant dubious.
On a bit of a somber note, we need to mention Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Written in 1931, Huxley describes a dystopian future based on
technology and drugs, particularly Soma: “The perfect drug. . . .
Euphoric, narcotic, pleasantly hallucinant. . . . All the advantages of
Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects. . . . Take a holiday
from reality whenever you like, and come back without so much as a
headache or a mythology. . . . Stability was practically assured.” That
is great writing. I wish I paid more attention in high school. Sorry,
In any event, Huxley
was not so much writing about cannabis as about humankind’s ability to
be distracted from looking out for tyranny. So, perhaps in between
partaking, we should keep watching U.S. President Donald Trump and keep a
firmer bloodshot eye on Ontario Premier Doug Ford. Notwithstanding.