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Posted: September 16, 2017

“Everyone must get stoned”

Bob Dylan, Rainy Day Women #12 & 35

“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner

Well, sorry Bob. Even though you’re one of my personal heroes and I totally support you receiving the Nobel Prize, I can’t follow you on this one. But Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government certainly does.

He’s promised to legalize recreational pot by this time next year or earlier and I don’t follow him either even though he seems to be the world’s political darling now, especially to old ‘60s diehards like me and those of the Left/Lib persuasion.

But not to the Canadian RCMP; splendid in their red serge and puffy pants. Nor to the Canadian Medical Association or any other medical association I’m aware of. Nor to me.

Let me explain.

Lest anyone think I’m a naif on this, let me put you straight. In my entire lifetime, pot is the only damn thing I ever did smoke. I resisted the temptation in high school even though I made daily visits to Smoky Hollow in Castlegar with my high school buddies puffing away like steam engines to show how cool they were. I remember thinking ‘why would I want to put smoke in my lungs’ and like a true geek I didn’t.

But things changed at university, especially SFU, where even some of the profs were openly smoking dope and I first read Jack Kerouac, Aldous Huxley and other hallucinogenic writers of the era. A few years later, there I was sitting in Dam Square in Amsterdam puffing away on a big doobie like the rest of the stunned ‘60s hippies until I woke up in the youth hostel one morning and saw what looked like nicotine stains on my previously unsoiled fingers. I almost screamed and left Amsterdam on the next ferry.

I’ve never smoked pot or anything else since. Honestly!

But that was then and this is now and now, quite frankly, is beginning to frighten me with corporate Canada positively drooling over the prospect of selling recreational pot and making gazillions. There’s even talk on the street of a pot factory coming to Cranbrook that would make enough money to pay the Rec Plex debt. But hey, hold on a minute. Just what are we getting into?

The Canadian Medical Association submission on pot to the Federal Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation said this: “The CMA has longstanding concerns about the health risks associated with consuming marijuana, particularly in smoked form. Children and youth are particularly at risk for marijuana-related harms, given their brain is undergoing rapid, extensive development.”

So why are so many jumping up and down with glee at the prospect of legalizing a drug that harms children’s brains and no doubt harms adult brains too despite its residual medical benefits? I can tell you why. It’s the “G” word as in good ol’ fashioned GREED! As mom and dad toke up over dinner will it not make a strong impression on little Joey and Sally? Hell, when they turn 18, they’ll even be able to smoke dope during recess at school or college.

As Huxley said: “It’s a Brave New World.” But it’s not a world this ex-hippie is looking forward to. Marijuana has never been put through the long and rigorous testing procedure that all other legal drugs are legally forced to go through so why will we be making it commercially available next year like a new brand of breakfast cereal?

Yes, I absolutely agree that prohibition doesn’t work in controlling drugs. That was proven in the 1920s. But don’t you think we’re going a bit far on this one? An opioid epidemic is currently killing thousands of Canadians and maybe millions worldwide. Isn’t there a strong message in that about recreational drug use?

I agree marijuana should be legalized, but not in the loosey-goosey way we’re doing it without medical testing. And no matter what price the government sells it for, the underworld will sell it cheaper.

It’s time for a re-boot. This is no issue to leave in the hands of politicians.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and an ex-pot user.

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