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Posted: December 7, 2019

Legalized marijuana is a two-way street

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Op-Ed Commentary

Legalization of marijuana in Canada has so far been a financial fiasco. And it’s been a fiasco in other ways too. I guess we can “thank” Justin Trudeau for that. As prime minister, he kept at least one promise during his first term. What will he legalize next? Opioids?

It wouldn’t surprise me.

This point was soundly driven home to me the other day when I was doing my regular morning regime, walking up and down the old wooden staircase on 17th Avenue just south of the Rec Plex.

Several young students were gathered on the middle landing of the covered structure out of sight of the traffic above and below. They were blocking the way so I slowed down and waited for them to move over which they did. At that point I noticed a strange (maybe not so strange) odour in the air and a girl about 15 huddled over a glass object. Not sure what it was, I looked closer and then I could clearly see what it was. It was a small bong about a foot high and there was blue smoke coming out of it into the youngster’s face.

I asked her if she was on the way to school and she said she didn’t go to school though her companions clearly looked to be school aged. I didn’t say anything else other than to ask her what she was going to do with her life.

“Open a bar,” she said with all the insouciance of youth. Then stuffing her bong in her backpack, she was off with her companions heading in the direction of one of our local schools and I resumed my stair walk in a more thoughtful mood.

When I got home, I thought should I ignore this because I’d seen similar behaviour on the staircase before. I asked myself, should I call the police, the city or should I just ignore it like I’d done in the past. Then I thought, the girl was with students who were clearly on their way to school. Her behaviour wasn’t exactly educational and indeed could be considered contrary to getting a good education so maybe I should call the school. Perhaps school officials could discourage this kind of behaviour and its detrimental effects on all involved.

So, I called the school but I didn’t get far. First, I got a recorded message. I tried again and eventually I was put through to a supply teacher in an active classroom. She told me she couldn’t do anything about the situation on the stairs but would leave a message with the principal to call me and I replied that would be fine.

The principal never called. Nor did anyone else from the school.

What the hell, I thought. If they don’t care, why should I? It wasn’t my kid. So, I didn’t call back. However, as the days went by the experience gnawed at me. Is this why we legalized marijuana? So that kids could get high on the way to school?

Or watch one of their school-aged friends get high? Do the schools not care about their charges until they appear on school property? I recalled a cold day last winter when I was walking by Mount Baker downtown and there were so many kids vaping on the sidewalk across from the school it literally looked like a mushroom cloud. You practically had to be standing within a foot or two of the students to see their faces. Vaping is blamed for the deaths of more than 40 students in the US. Perhaps, it’s affecting the health of students on this side of the border too.

What I’ve written is not meant to be an attack on teachers. Politicians maybe. Society for sure. But not teachers, who have a very tough job inside the doors. They can’t be expected to control what goes on outside school doors. Surely that’s where parents come in as well as the police and society as a whole. Have we all failed our children?

And what does the marijuana law require of the pot shops that are now opening in town? The windows must be covered so that the public can’t see all that green marijuana product for sale on the shelves inside. Perhaps, we should call them hypocrisy shops?

– Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who admits he tried marijuana too, but quit the habit because he found better things to do.

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