Category Archives: Cannabis

Plight of the Dispensaries – January 23, 2018

nature02If cannabis legalization gets any more costly, we may need to revert back to the black market model. At least then, patients needn’t struggle to get their medication. The current victims of the legalization effort are the dispensaries, and with them the patients.

They filled a gap left when the government permitted medical marijuana in 2001, but left the patient without access to their medication. Fifteen years later, Neil Allard successfully sued the government for unduly restricting the access to medical cannabis. Continue reading Plight of the Dispensaries – January 23, 2018

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Cele-protesting Pseudo-Legalization – 420 @ Sunset Park

May 2, 2017

IMG_0338Like all marathons, my day started too early. Brynn and I drove out of Kelowna at around six AM. We picked up a misinformed temporary passenger before dropping him back off. Hope of a smooth ride was lost as we hit the Connector to find three inches of snow growing on the road. Traffic slowed to a single lane crawl at a magnificent 30 kilometres per hour.

Continue reading Cele-protesting Pseudo-Legalization – 420 @ Sunset Park

The Story of Weed – March 29, 2016

WeedArt_v2

We all know the story of Weed, AKA cannabis, marijuana, pot, the assassin of youth. In truth, that assassin is adulthood and definitely not to be confused as maturity. Her story is woven with lies, deception and conspiracy. Weed, unbeknownst to most, is the victim.

Weed was once everyone’s friend, less a threat than healer. She thrived in religions and cultures for centuries until the ‘New World’ rebranded it as a vice, used by undesirables to create antisocial psychopaths. This was the rhetoric of capitalists who saw Weed as a competitor to creating their own antisocial psychopaths.

Weed was sacred, like the Jesus wafers and grape juice Blood-Of-Christ. The Hindus called her bhang, using the concoction to commune with the god Shiva and free oneself from sin[1]. Buddhists claim that Buddha lived on one cannabis seed a day, and they use Weed to deepen their meditation and raise awareness[2]. Rowan Robinson, in The Great Book of Hemp, mentions her use with Islam, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, African traditions, Chinese Taoism, Japanese traditions and even Christianity. This competition of beliefs, of religions fighting for the title of most beneficent, was won by the secularists. They outlawed the sacred for their ‘sacred-er’.

The narrow-minded racist tendency of colonialists plotted to push Weed into the underground economy. To emphasize her ties to Mexico, cannabis was rebranded to sound more Mexican by combining ‘Maria’, mother of Jesus, with ‘huana’, Spanish for ‘property’ or ‘stuff’. In 1846, it became ‘Mary’s Stuff’, or marijuana[3]. Steve D’Angelo documents the cultural shift in The Cannabis Manifesto, documenting how Weed was brought into the States with refugees from the 1910 Mexican Revolution. Weed was used as an analgesic and for her anti-inflammatory properties[4].

Mind you, the medical industry wasn’t blind to Weed’s usefulness. She was already listed in the U.S. pharmacopeia back in 1842[5]. However, through the 1920s Weed nervously eyed alcohol being beaten into submission by the temperance movement. Law enforcement had a heyday busting distilleries and breweries, flushing the underground profits down the drain in the name of Prohibition.

Weed was introduced to contemporary society thanks to Mexican migration, and in the 1920s and 30s was promoted to Muse by the African-American jazz musicians. She was affectionately known as ‘Muggles’ and Mezz, after Milton Mezzrow who started selling cannabis cigarettes to make ends meet during the Great Depression[6]. This musehood propelled her to celebrity status, joining the era`s ranks of alcohol and barbiturates.

Politicians soon recognized their hypocrisy and alcohol was re-legalized. It helped boost economies, and became the architect of civil strife, to the point of celebrating it as a human right. Not really, but try telling that to the drinkers.

Well, come the 1930s, and a bunch of alcohol agents were standing around bars, beer in hand and scratching their heads wondering what to do next. Harry Anslinger had the answer, becoming director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Giving alcohol a pat on the back and no-hard-feelings handshake, he took a step over and gave Weed a withering stare.

By the time the age of marijuana prohibition kicked in, the public was well aware of Weed’s danger thanks to Reefer Madness. Smearing Weed’s good name, rumors spread about her playing into the hands of children and students. Most Americans understanding about Weed was rife with ‘racism, unwarranted consumption, lack of investigation, and an absence of science.[7]’ Some things never change.

In 1925-26, studies were done exonerating Weed, citing no evidence of habit forming compared to alcohol, opium, and cocaine. With moderate use, they found no injurious effect, no physical injury, and no moral injury[8].  Logically, Congress voted in a national ban on Weed in 1937[9]. Welcome to the age of ideology trumping scientific fact.

Reefer Madness won over and Weed was ruled an outlaw. There was collateral damage. Weed’s cousin, Industrial Hemp, or IH for short, was bundled into the sentence and he too was outlawed. This betrayal was even harder on IH, having been there at the nation’s beginning when the great explorers were hijacking the Americas.

Without IH, the sails and ropes wouldn’t have had the strength to search the seven seas. In 17th Century America, IH was a mandatory crop earning jail time if you weren`t growing it. In the 18th Century, he was used to pay taxes[10]. There are claims that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington grew it on their plantations[11]. IH had deep roots with America’s history, and was kicked to the curb with the boot called 1937’s Marijuana Tax Act.

The conspiracy is laid bare knowing that the law was passed by FDR and his buddies through a voice tally that was never recorded. Weed was removed from the US Pharmacopeia in 1941[12]. At the time, she was listed for more than 100 different ailments[13].

An odd hiccup in the restriction came during World War Two, testifying to IH`s utility and necessity. In 1942, the government-led `Hemp for Victory` called for support of the war effort, quoting the film: “American hemp will go on duty again – hemp for mooring ships, hemp for tow lines, hemp for tackle and gear, hemp for countless naval uses both on ship and shore![14]” Apparently, the Japanese had cut off their supply of imported hemp, of which each American ship required 34,000 feet. When the war ended, so did the hiccup.

Through to the Sixties, Weed retained her public enemy status as the assassin of youth. As an illegal substance, acquiring Weed for study was near-impossible. The silencing of the scientific community gave the Reefer Madness unopposed power to propagate its lies.

The battle escalated after Anslinger resigned from the Bureau in 1962 and moved into a bigger pond. He was appointed as a US delegate to the United Nations[15]. With his US superpower status, the anti-Weed venom spread globally.

That same year, Kennedy and the ad hoc panel on drug abuse found that most of the facts on Weed were exaggerated and based on very limited evidence[16]. With studies mounting in support of Weed’s efficacy, it naturally escalated into full-out war. Weed’s newest foe was bigger and badder than ever. At least the lies were.

As the Sixties blasted apart the Fifties, Weed was seen hanging with the dropouts. She was a celebrity to the hippie movement and became a political symbol of liberty and civil disobedience. This crowd had a plethora of nicknames for her, such as blunt, bud, chronic, doobie, dope, ganja, grass, herb, Johnson, Mary Jane, pot, reefer, schwag, spliff, and weed.

Nixon was (mis)leading the US charge, declaring the War on Drugs. Using a lot of deflection techniques and political jujitsu to hide his misdeeds, this war masked his hatred of the blacks, hippies, and anti-Vietnam protesters. Thus, the practice of demonizing the user began.

A quote from his counsel, John Ehrlichman, says it all: “Look, we understand we couldn’t make it illegal to be young or poor, or black in the US, but we could criminalize their common pleasure[17].”

The government`s shield of massive lies was called the 1970 Controlled Substances Act which established drug ‘schedules’. Schedule I listed drugs with high potential for abuse, had no medical use, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. This list included heroin, LSD, mescaline, magic mushrooms, and various amphetamines. Taking a few more steps down the logic progression, the Schedule II drugs had some accepted medical use. This group included cocaine, opium, oxycodone, morphine, and amphetamines.

Not many considered it fair to lump Weed in with these nasty cell mates. She may have been seen hanging out with some of these in the Sixties lovefest, but her guilt-by-association was easily disproven by numerous studies, all ignored by the larger public. Regardless, the drug war was ramped up with its targets based on this schedule.

Jimmy Carter called for national decriminalization of Weed, saying the punishment shouldn’t be more harmful than the cause[18]. That idea was shot down; instead they sprayed Mexican Weed with paraquat. Carter authorized N, N, dimethyl-4, 4, -bipyridinium dichloride as a weapon, which kills green plant tissue on contact, toxic to animals and humans. Parkinson’s disease was a common development from those who ingested this weed, of which a third of the samples were contaminated with[19]. Oops.

As the hippie movement got hip-checked away by disco’s jungle fever, bringing with it even more drugs. Weed’s ill repute placed her in the hands of gangsters and bikers; she had few friends outside of the fringe society. Cheech and Chong parodied the war, flipping the bird at authorities while pushing her into the spotlight of the Eighties. Along came Nancy Reagan, just saying no, making it her calling to continue spreading misinformation on Weed.

By this time, Weed was ‘well known’ to be a gateway to harder drugs like crack and heroin. Ronald Reagan introduced the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act, along with mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Law enforcement had a heyday busting grow-ops and hydroponic shops, flushing underground profits down the drain in the name of prohibition.

However, there was change in the air when Weed was recognized as a legitimate treatment for AIDS. Shortly after, gangster rappers built up empires on songs about Weed. Dazed and confused, she stumbled into the Nineties relatively unscathed despite a global war launched against her.

In the cinema, a bunch of dudes were embracing her company, Jay and Silent Bob passed it on to Harold and Kumar, while she provided the basis for Seth Rogan’s career. Weed has had a long and winding career, and lately that path has led to medical awareness. Even bigger steps were taken as states de-escalated this drug war by decriminalizing, or outright legalizing, her. Doing so has turned state economies around.

As we woke up and stretched our way into the new millennium, minds were changing as eyes were opened. With the loosening laws, schools and scientists had access to legally study this plant. Science chipped away the portrait of Weed as ‘public scourge’ as lies were exhumed. The truth of Weed’s efficacy was brought to light and the exposed lies left a public in shock and disbelief.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy gathered in 2011 to say that the War on Drugs had failed and that a new approach was needed[20].

These revelations point towards a revolution in health care and medicine. The cover-up of IH’s ability to produce paper, textiles, and concrete was deposed. His true threat is to replace lumber and petroleum, a strike at the wellbeing of numerous industries on which our economy currently depends. IH has the potential to seriously stir shit up.

In the end, most of the Twentieth Century`s depiction of Weed has been ideology with no reliance on science. As networks of communication open up, the internet reveals truths and facts that were obscured by disputable laws. The tide turns as more people realize the efficacy of Weed, joining the ranks to change her legal status and empower her to change the way we inhabit the world.

[1] Robinson, Rowan, The Great Book of Hemp (Rochester VA: Park Street Press, 1996), 83

[2] Robinson, Rowan, The Great Book of Hemp, 86

[3] DeAngelo, Steve, The Cannabis Manifesto (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2015), 20

[4] DeAngelo, Steve, The Cannabis Manifesto, 21

[5] Lee, Martin A., Smoke Signals (Toronto: Scribner, 2012), 24

[6] Lee, Martin A., Smoke Signals, 44

[7] Lee, Martin A., Smoke Signals, 27

[8] Lee, Martin A., Smoke Signals, 25

[9] Lee, Martin A., Smoke Signals, 28

[10] http://www.hemp.com/history-of-hemp

[11] http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2912/did-george-washington-and-thomas-jefferson-grow-marijuana

[12] Lee, Martin A., Smoke Signals, 54

[13] Lee, Martin A., Smoke Signals, 56

[14] Robinson, Rowan, The Great Book of Hemp, 160

[15] Lee, Martin A., Smoke Signals, 33

[16] DeAngelo, Steve, The Cannabis Manifesto, 34

[17] DeAngelo, Steve, The Cannabis Manifesto, 35

[18] DeAngelo, Steve, The Cannabis Manifesto, 36

[19] DeAngelo, Steve, The Cannabis Manifesto, 88

[20] Mallea, Paula, The War on Drugs: A failed experiment (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2014), 32

 

Unjust Capitalism, legalizing cannabis – February 24, 2017

One must ask the law makers and backers, “Whose side are you on?” Each time a cop busts a compassion club, they hand power back to the underground economy. I don’t believe this is the effect they were aiming for. What does kicking in the door of compassion say about our laws and their views on medical care?

Continue reading Unjust Capitalism, legalizing cannabis – February 24, 2017

The Story of Weed – March 29, 2016

WeedArt_v2We all know the story of Weed, AKA cannabis, marijuana, pot, the assassin of youth. In truth, that assassin is adulthood and definitely not to be confused as maturity. Her story is woven with lies, deception and conspiracy. Weed, unbeknownst to most, is the victim. Continue reading The Story of Weed – March 29, 2016

You Can’t Grow Petroleum – October 1, 2013

552333_10150608774590614_601675613_9303140_1422643087_nSo Premier Clark is on the oil-baron bandwagon, touting liquefied natural gas (LNG) as Western Canada’s great hope to fuel our economy. Let’s run it by China and see if they’re interested. If we’re lucky, they might even sell some back to us. The idea of selling and shipping our natural resources just reeks of ‘intelligence’.

What are we missing here? That we could be creating more jobs on this side of the ocean by retaining ownership of our natural resources? If we piped this processed product into our own gross domestic product, we’d see a booming profit margin compared to what we sell overseas. Under the defence of conservation, if we held on to these resources then, as demand increases and supplies dwindle, the value of what remains will have a much higher value if we keep it in the ground for just a wee bit longer.

In terms of utility, how we use these resources can no longer continue with business-as-usual. Our siphoning of nature’s hydrocarbons has peaked and what remains requires some pretty intensive (and polluting) extraction methods. Perhaps we should step away until some cleaner methods are developed. Anyway, we’ll need to retain some fuel to maintain our sense of Canadian well-being. We can sell it all now, but it’s foolish to think that we won’t need it later on. (This seems to be beyond the scope, and lifetime, of those currently in power.)

What happens when our petroleum runs out? No fuel, transportation, or trade. We can’t make the plastics necessary for our day-to-day products. Our paints, lubricants and coatings will no longer be a water-tight guarantee. For obvious reasons we must start to seriously conserve what is left. If Canada doesn’t kick-start its manufacturing capabilities, all we’ll have left for trade will be the virgin resources. These will drain away to other countries that have more factories than we do.

So, for Clark to peddle LNG as our great opportunity, her tunnel vision may simply be another nail in the coffin of our long-term well-being. Beyond the pipeline and gas possibilities, what other cards are there to put on the table? Where do agriculture and forestry fit in? I see a whole lot of eggs in one basket and very few barriers to prevent a province-wide (and country-wide, but that’s another story) crash.

Perhaps we should looking into petroleum’s greatest threat: Hemp. In the 1930s, Du Pont lobbied heavily to outlaw hemp and cannabis. At the time, the Ford Motor Company was devising ways to create every product made from petroleum, but from hemp instead. As it turns out, everything petroleum could do, hemp plant carbohydrates could do cheaper. This game-changer had to be kept off the playing field.

This plant is a miraculous gift, and it is currently villainized by lobbyist propaganda and disproven gateway theories. Cannabis’s medical abilities are beyond incredible, the plant’s fiber can be used for textiles, rope, paper, concrete and bio-hydrocarbons. The economic possibilities are immense. As well, two harvests of hemp will replenish a field overrun by thistles and weeds. We can recover more farming land. The information is out there, look it up. It’s the 21st Century, folks. It’s time grow up, do away with bad habits, and work towards a prosperous and greener future.

Published October 10, 2013, Kelowna Daily Courier

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Recriminalizing the Underground – January 2, 2006

Attention Canadians! It’s time to face the puzzling issue of decriminalizing marijuana.  Our current laws are a burden on the justice system, jails and society, leaving us to pay yet another bill for the police, judges, lawyers, prisons and guards. In numerous ways, we’ve had smoke blown in our face.

Every grow-op bust reported is a mere snowflake on the tip of an iceberg when viewed on the national scale. The anti-drug force would go broke taking down all the grow-ops. From the other side of the legal fence, a busted grow op is like removing the competition and opening more ground for expansion. It provides more market power for the survivor.

Americans have fought the War on Drugs since Ronald Reagan laid down the law back in the Eighties. As a result, between 1980 and 2002, more prisons were built and the number of prisoners tripled, the majority for drug violations[1]. Canada has over 600,000 citizens with criminal records for marijuana possession[2]. Think of how many prison cells that would fill.

When we label cannabis a narcotic, we equate it with heroin, cocaine and crack; this is like listing both Dickens and Penthouse under the same category of literature. Cannabis is not physically addictive nor is it known to incite riots, let alone a squabble. When smoking a joint causes less damage than downing a bottle of beer, how did marijuana become so reviled?

Marijuana has never killed anyone. All illegal drugs kill around 800 people a year[3]. Meanwhile, terminal diseases from the legally sanctioned substances, such as tobacco (killing 45,000 people a year) and alcohol (12,000), are acceptable. The health system kills over 106,000 people each year through adverse drug reactions[4]. Even aspirin causes over 10,000 hospital admission in Canada each year. Still, pot is the devil.

Cannabis actually provides medical benefits amongst its many other uses. In Reefer Madness, Eric Schlosser writes how “Dr. Lester Grinspoon, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, provides evidence that smoking cannabis can relieve the nausea associated with chemotherapy, prevent blindness induced by glaucoma, serve as an appetite stimulant for AIDS patients, act as an anti-epileptic, ward off asthma attacks and migraine headaches, alleviate chronic pain, and reduce the muscle spasticity that accompanies multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and paraplegia[5].” Not bad for a villain.

Hemp has health benefits when eaten as a seed, it creates fabric stronger than denim, provides fiber for paper and can be distilled into fuel. It grows quick, plentiful and easily(it is a weed), making it a very economically feasible crop. How many forests could be saved, using a commercial crop that costs less and is more sustainable than the monoculture fibres we depend on?

The economic offshoots from hemp production could replace our use of pulp lumber without rebuilding factories. Hemp fiber allows local production of textiles and clothing. And grow ops could be utilized to build the economy rather than drain it.

Cannabis is correlated with narcotics and weapons, the more lethal corrupters, because it is traded for those greater evils in an underground barter system. It is a pawn in the drug war, cultivating it here and shipping it to the States. The Canada-US border surveillance unnecessarily focuses on marijuana rather than the more lethal dangers. If this ‘currency’ were legally available, bought and tendered over the counter like cigarettes, the criminal world would be less able to afford to transfer narcotics into the country. It would be like trading aspirin for cocaine.

Legalizing marijuana benefits society two-fold: First, it would incapacitate the underground economy that depends on its sale. Second, the collected taxes from the legal crop could fund the battle against narcotics; better yet, add funding to mental health services and take the real victims out of the drug trade. By turning our back on this cash crop, we are wasting tax dollars on a war that builds up the enemy rather than near any end.

Societies who have legalized marijuana do not fall into disrepair, like doomsayers say.  These citizens grow up respecting its use, in a similar way that alcohol has been accepted since the Prohibition ended; not everybody drinks alcohol, but it’s available.

If we are concerned about our safety, focus on the people affected by the problem rather than the ones that are selling on the corner. The self-medication prevalent in street life is not a nuisance, but an indication of a damaged community. We can fix a community problem easier than a global one.

It is time to blow away the smoke and demand a justice system that enhances society and reduces crime.  Legalize marijuana so that authorities can start cracking down on substances that really are killing us: narcotics.


[1] Mate, Gabor, MD,In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction (Toronto, Knopf Canada, 2008) 275

[2]Mulgrew, Ian, Bud Inc.: Inside Canada’s Marijuana Industry (Random House, Canada) 190

[3] Mulgrew, Ian, Bud Inc.: Inside Canada’s Marijuana Industry (Random House, Canada) 191

[5] Schlosser, Erik, Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market (New York, Mariner, 2004) 16