Cannabis Day

I love Indian Summer.  Balmy, sunny days, harvest festivals, pumpkin pie, a palette of red, gold and brown leaves lazily floating in the air, cool evenings and maybe a fire in the hearth and candles for dinner. The walk along the pebble beach to my weekly tète-a-tète with Campbell, Camp to all and sundry, is the most pleasant this time of year.

“Camp, do you know what day it was yesterday?”

“Wednesday. Oh you mean national Mary Jane day is what you’re referring to isn’t it. You know my take on all of that don’t you?”

“Yes, you did run it by me before but please let’s have it again. I know you’re not totally in favour with the whole process.”

“We would have been better off to decriminalize marijuana instead of legalizing it. Just take the crime out of growing, toking and eating it, throw the jails open and give every one with a criminal record for pot an amnesty and then treat it like all the other famous drugs which are legal now.”

“What famous drugs?” I asked.

“How about sugar, the world’s biggest drug which brought about slavery, rum running and made untold riches for the plantation owners, importers and refineries. Or coffee, which is making fortunes today for the likes of Starbuck’s and has everybody walking around with a non-disposable cup of the black liquid. Did I mention alcohol? Please don’t make me count the ways the drink makes the world go round, right to this table here at ‘Gramma’s Pub’ on the lovely Gibsons’ harbour.”

“Yeah, you’re right Camp and we all know prohibition doesn’t work but it’s quite an achievement for the federal government to legalize pot. I’m not sure if there are any other countries that have done that. I know there are about 26 states in the US and I think Portugal has legalized all drugs about ten years ago but it is quite a radical policy for a federal government of an industrialized nation, don’t you think.”

“Yes, I agree but all they want is control, like for alcohol, and get a bonanza in tax dollars. I’m afraid that giving out licenses will result in a few big corporate players to monopolize the market and leave small operators who have cultivated and produced some fine products over the years, out on the street and possibly on the wrong side of the law. This would take a huge chunk of commerce and money out of small communities like Gibsons and Nelson.”

“Yeah, the usual. Good for corporate share holders, bad for small time operators. Let’s wait and see what happens. It’s been promised by Trudeau’s dad, Pierre,  45 years ago. The world will be watching.”

“I’ve read that the first problem will be one of supply,” Camp said, “meaning that no government sanctioned pot is available as of yet and nobody is in charge of the store, meaning, no pricing, no standardization, no packaging, no labelling, no distribution and no grading. Maybe they’ll have somebody like that Parker guy who grades wines for weed?”


“You mean something like:  This ‘Kubla Khan Purple Dagga’bud is 93 points and on special this week.”

“That’s not going to happen any time soon,” Camp laughed.

I still think it’s a day worth celebrating. In fact I’ll buy the next round.”

“I can live with that,” Camp said, quickly downing the rest of his pint.

“You two seem to be in a good mood today,” Rosie said as she brought us a fresh round.

“We’re celebrating legalization day,” I said, “don’t you think that’s worth a toast and a pint?”

“Next you two will want me to bring around a couple of reefers and a cup of ginseng tea instead of beers.”

“No fear of that Rosie,” Camp said, we’ll stick with the golden liquid but I know that Muriel will grow a couple of plants in the garden, just because she can.”

“I think they should make the 17th October a national holiday, it’s a historic event,” I said.

“And what would you call it?” Rosie chuckled, “Cannabis Day?”

“It has a certain ring to it,” Camp said.

“I’ll drink to that,” I said. “Here is to Cannabis Day!”


Senior Stoners

“Did you read Trudeau’s announcement that Marijuana will be legal by October 17th,” He needs one good news story and I think Canadians in general will be pleased,” I said after I joined Camp who was already seated at our usual table at the pub.

“Yeah, except all the small growers, the experienced specialists who have been refining the art of the perfect Ganja, will be gobbled up by the big corporations or be left to remain underground,” Camp said. “Not good for all the small towns where these Grow-ops have contributed to their local economy for the past 30 years.”

“There will be problems with quality, standards, taxation and distribution,” I said. “and people who rely on medical marijuana will be taxed just like recreational users. Not fair, they say, since it should be treated like any other medicine.”

“Yeah, it will also be interesting to see what our bullish neighbour to the south thinks of this and should we even care?”

Vicky brought us two cold ones and I couldn’t help myself and asked her opinion about this issue.

“I don’t indulge, but it should be up to the people to decide what they consume, not the government. Most people are smart enough to decide what’s good for themselves, without the government getting in the way,” she said while giving the table next to us a perfunctory wipe.

“Exactly,” said Camp. “It smacks of legislating morality.”

“Guess which is the fastest growing population segment that indulges these days.”

“Teenagers?” I ventured.

“Seniors!” Camp said triumphantly, smacking the table with the palm of his hand for emphasis. “It’s senior stoners which are the biggest new Cannabis users according to a New Yorkerarticle. A US government survey found that cannabis use for those 65 years old and up increased by 250%. It’s simple demographics. Seniors today are the boomers, the first generation to seriously embrace Marijuana and now that they’re retired they’re taking up old habits. Remember those lids of Mexican weed or the Thai sticks?

“Yes, I remember,” I said. “You could tell a toker by the holes in their T-shirts from the exploding seeds.”

“Those were the days,” Camp waxed nostalgically.

We both concentrated on our beers for a couple of beats.

“I guess between the old stoners and those looking for health benefits you can add those who follow the law and are now free to get high and then there are those who never stopped,” I said.

“It’s not the teens but the geezers who will drive the green wave,” Camp said, “and the market will be driven by edibles, not smokers. Gummibears and popcorn, brownies, candy and vaporizers.”

“Amen,” Camp said and we finished our pints which didn’t last in this summer heat.

Vicky brought around a fresh round of cold ones and said. “While you two are concerned with recreation and high times, I’m more worried about the smoke covering much of the Okanagan. Over 120 wild fires are burning right now in B.C. and there is no rain in sight. I don’t even want to think about the horrible fires in Greece. My boyfriend just signed up with the fire fighters. He’s off to Kelowna today.”

We both looked a bit pathetic with our silly pot concerns in view of this real devastating threat to property and lives.

“I remember the awful Mountain Park fire in 2003,” I said.

“Or the Fort McMurray wild fire that destroyed 2400 homes and took 15 months to put out,” Camp added.

“Vicky you’re right of course, we’re very worried and fully support your boyfriends commitment,” I said rather lamely.

“You two don’t worry, I didn’t want to spoil your happy hour. Enjoy the breeze, the super weather and the free second pint.”

“And may the rain come soon,” I said, not believing I just said that.

Legalize It

I stopped by ‘Coast Books’, Camp’s non-profit-bookstore because this was the busy time of year for him and that would likely make him late for our usual Thursday beer conference. On my way I passed the local pot dispensary, quaintly called ‘The Healing Shanty’. It loomed empty. I thought those purple Sativa buds would make great stocking stuffers.

Campbell, Camp to all us locals, was just about to close up. “This was one of the better days. If all days would be like today I could actually make a living selling books,” he said.

A minute later we were comfortable seated in our usual corner, even though this time of year there was nothing much to see apart from a few twinkling lights across the dark expanse of water. While Vicky set two foamy mugs in front of us I had to ask what Camp thought about the legalization of pot.

“It’s a weed,” Camp said, “that is why it’s called weed or grass. Should we regulate Dandelion tea? I hear it has a calming effect.”

“Yeah, I get it but the topic is all over the news. Quebec just announced their policy, 15 government outlets, no home growing, zero driving tolerance.“

“Therein lies the problem,” Camp pointed out, “legislations and restrictions do not make for a good business model. Zero tolerance means that if you smoked on the weekend and you get stopped on Wednesday, the THC is still in your blood. Does that mean you can never drive again if you indulge once in a while? Also, the choices, quality and price need to be equal or better then the street merchandise. In other words, the Quebec model is rather flawed.”

“Alberta announced that all their outlets will be private and you can grow up to four plants at home. Saskatchewan and Manitoba are looking at similar models. Not sure what the Minister of pot in B.C. has in mind. All we know is that the feds really want to push this legalization as of July next year.”

“That’s all fine and well but where is the standardization, especially for medical marijuana, who or where is the quality control and who are the distributers? Is it the provincial liquor boards or Big Pharma; maybe Reynolds or Philipp Morris, the cigarette companies?”

“Lets hope not,” I said, “but there will be huge business opportunities and hundreds of jobs from cultivation to distribution. I believe BC will allow ‘craft growers’, sort of like ‘craft beer’ and bigger companies like Aurora Cannabis and Canopy Growth Corp. who by the way have taken over the old Hershey Chocolate factory, are cultivating over a million square feet of pot already. I read that this could be 25 billion dollar bonanza with world wide business opportunities.”

“And all the millions in taxes will go to the government, hopefully to support health care and social services,” Camp said with a hint of sarcasm.

“It will go the same route as gambling and Tabaco profits. First they were designated for sports and culture, now they just go into the big pot. No pun intended,” I said.

“I also read that high profile pot advocates like the prince of pot, Marc Emry and his wife Jodie, will not be eligible to get into the business because of their criminal records – for pot offences. Kind of upside-down-backwards,” I pointed out.

“Yes, and there should be an amnesty for all those kids who were busted for pot and now have a criminal record,” Camp said. “I personally like the Portuguese model. They legalized all drugs 14 years ago and decided to treat drugs as a public health issue and not a criminal one and now hardly anybody dies from an overdose.”

“Here in B.C. we have over 1,400 overdose deaths this year, but the legalisation law will only be about marijuana, nothing else.”

“It’s a bit like legalizing beer but not Rum or Vodka,” Camp said, taking a long swallow from his beer.

“What about the kids or juveniles?” I said. “I believe it’s not a good thing to be a pot consumer when you’re in your puberty. There is research that claims it stunts your motivation and ambition. I know from my own experience in my twenties, when I couldn’t even get up to change the record.”
Camp gave me a raised eyebrow look. “I never really indulged,” he said. “I tried but it gave me a headache. My mind is too overloaded as it is. Tell me, how did an old hippie like you meet a princess like Clare. You must have really pitched a flawless game to win her heart.”
I was a bit taken aback by Camp’s rush to judgement but then I have asked myself the same question. Clare once told me that she instantly liked me because: “You were an open book and spoke your mind,” and then added with a twinkle in her eye, “Now, I wish you would keep some of your opinions to yourself .”

“That’s perfect,” Camp laughed.

“You know there are so many ways to consume pot these day,” I said, trying to get us back on track. “From joints to chilums, hukas and vaporizers, candies and cakes to oil and inhalers.”

“Yes, pretty soon we’ll be able to order marijuana infused beers,” Camp said, “like a Sativa lager or and Indica pale ale.”

“Hey, there will be a niche market for the local breweries.”

“You two seem to have a good time,” Vicky said, standing beside us with her tray smartly on her hip. “Ready for another one?”

“Twist my rubber arm,” Camp grinned.