On the legalization of cannabis

On the legalization of cannabis

Twenty years ago or so, the Cranbrook Townsman regularly received the latest issues of “Cannabis Culture,” a magazine dedicated to marijuana and the subculture that encompasses it, the efforts to legalize it, tips on growing it, profiles and news squibs, and suchlike. Most predominantly, it was a seed catalogue — seeds for cannabis plants with the grooviest of names: Hindu Kush, Granddaddy Purple, Laughing Buddha, Double Dream, Space Queen, Permafrost …

It was kind of like the Western Producer through the looking glass.

I don’t know why the Townsman got regular copies of “Cannabis Culture.” It’s not like we had a subscription. The Townsman also got copies of “Editor-Publisher,” “Country Life,” and other periodicals. All these publications, now exist only online, or are not even any longer extant.

“Cannabis Culture” was started by Marc Emery — the so-called Prince of Pot, and Canada’s most determined Cannabis rights and marijuana legalization advocate. He even spent time in a U.S. jail. That’s how much of an advocate he was.

The editor of “Cannabis Culture” at that time was Dana Larsen. Among his many activities, he founded the Marijuana Party of Canada and the BC Marijuana Party. He is currently a member of the BC NDP.

In 2012, Larsen launched the Sensible BC campaign to decriminalize cannabis possession in BC through a referendum. The campaign didn’t get enough votes to go to referendum. I interviewed Larsen during a stop on his campaign here in town. One of the campaign team gave me a pin-back button, with a big marijuana leaf and the words “Legalize It” emblazoned on it. I put this button into a drawer at home and forgot about it.

Today, however, I am sporting this button for the first time, as an acknowledgement that, whatever one thinks of it, today is an historic day.

I mention those two activists in particular, out of so many thousands over the years, because 20 years ago the legalization of cannabis seemed as unlikely a possibility as the unification of East and West Germany seemed in 1980. But that time has in fact come, remarkably, today.

For 95 years, Cannabis for recreational use has been illegal in Canada. As of today, that is history. Like so many other historic launches, it has come stumbling into reality chaotically, with many unanswered questions and uncertainties. I also note that despite its new status as a legal, recreational comestible, we will be unable to buy pot for purely recreational use in Cranbrook for the foreseeable future.

I find it difficult to opine on the use of recreational cannabis without referring to any previous association I myself have had with it. Let me just say, that though I’m not in any hurry to resume a cannabis smoking lifestyle, I’m secretly hoping that everyone else does.

That being said, I also believe that everyone who wants to smoke cannabis recreationally is already smoking it, and those numbers are not going to rise significantly, but like our knowledge about alcohol and tobacco use, we will become more aware of the risks and dangers of immoderate usage, and most of us will govern our lifestyles accordingly.

Earlier this year I was able to personally observe the effectiveness of cannabis for medical purposes in certain situations — as a pain-reliever and sleep aid in a palliative care setting in this case. I have also come to see how wide-spread is its bona fide medical use among the community. The legalization of cannabis for recreational use is a logical next step, and makes a way towards a greater understanding of drug use for both recreational and medical purposes.