What do you think about cannabis being legalized in Canada?

I remember the original hippy era, so I have a lot of thoughts.

Was There Any Reason Not To Legalize?

I have a political belief that covers this any many other situations. That is, an adult should be allowed to do what they want to do. A given country should justify the reasons for saying, no, you can't. The appropriate tests are harm to others, practicality, supported by facts, and consistency.

I said, "to others", deliberately. Canada has a government-supported medical care system. So, people who develop diseases of "self-abuse" pose a lot of costs on the rest of us. However, the provincial governments of Canada don't refuse medical care to people who get sick from drinking too much alcohol, get into car crashes as a result, use very damaging hard drugs, let themselves become obese, or smoke tobacco.

None of the provinces and territories are proposing to let people smoke weed in close proximity to people who don't want to smell it. At best, in Ontario, you would walk by someone who was smoking up on the street. There does not seem to be any evidence that a few seconds of exposure to second-hand marijuana smoke can damage you.

I have heard some arguments about marijuana being a threat to late teenage and young adult brains. I go to clubs frequently, and see kids binge drink themselves into oblivion. I doubt this is good for the adolescent brain. No one is going to stop those kids from binge drinking. So, consistency kicks in. Try making the legal drinking age twenty-five and see how far you get.

And, no, I don't accept the argument that weed means, "extra damage", so should be restricted from the young folks anyhow. A basic Canadian freedom, is the freedom to damage your health. There are no grounds to prohibit any particular type of self-harm, unless the harm is immediate and highly evident. People have been smoking weed, from their youth, for a very long time. The evidence isn't there.

The Domination Subculture

I am not referring to consensual BDSM. The 1950's was the golden age of the proud social control freak. There they were, the school principals, the ministers of religion, the Deputy Ministers, the business leaders, the police chiefs, those who "administered" Canada's indigenous peoples, etc. Much of Canada's history, since then, has been a battle against those people. Some of them were making good money off of being dominant, so they fought back very hard.

I don't think Canada has yet seen equality as a totally accepted part of democratic life. Another Question in Quora today was about, what one might like to add to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I would love to see a "no control, no supervision" clause. That is, an explicit recognition that no person or group in Canadian society has the right to assume control over others. Effectively, I would say what I have said above, the Charter could do with a clear statement, that any restrictions on adult freedom must be subject to stringent tests of provable, severe damage to the individual, provable damage to others, and equity in the forbidding of behaviour. In other words, you cannot restrict my freedom of behaviour if you permit people to carry out equivalently damaging behaviours.

I think that much of the restrictions that have placed on the legal enjoyment of marijuana, violate what I propose above. Much of the marijuana debate is about the proud, illegitimate authority of the "controllers".

Look, It Feels Good!

The Liberal Party of Canada has chosen a grim and sombre stance about the legalization of recreational marijuana. They have been talking about reducing harm to Canada's young people and suppressing organized crime.

Oh, c'mon eh. Smoking up feels good. It's fun. It is a social type of enjoyment with other weedniks.

I'd almost say that the Charter should include an American (gasp!) concept, the pursuit of happiness. We could really do with an explicit acceptance that, subject to causing harm to others, and subject to adult consent if it is a mutual activity, fun is good and allowed. It is time to clear away the grey cloud of secularized Methodism, Presbyterianism and Ultramontaine, Jansenist, Roman Catholicism from Canada. We need to say, it is perfectly OK for a Canadian to have fun, and not justify it.

Legal recreational weed should not be a grimly tolerated reality. It should be a welcomed reality, even by those in power. In other words, the country club, private golf course, cocktail party with attendant lobbyists set, needs to concede that the rest of the Canadians have a right to enjoyment, totally free of any earnestness or any redeeming goal whatsoever. If they put that in the Charter, I would call it, the "Life Is Short", provision.

Confront The Boozeaucrats

How can any one object to legal weed, while so many Canadians are drinking, a hell of a lot?

There are a lot of alcoholics in Canada, and a lot of people who are alcohol dependent. I do not drink at all. I get tons of push back from various bar people who seem to be offended and threatened.

And, of course, the liquor distribution industry, the bars, the clubs, the restaurants that rely on alcohol sales to stay in profit, these are huge economic activities in Canada.

I would say to those who want marijuana to be tightly controlled with a social frown, or for marijuana use to be altogether illegal, how about if you support prohibition? Or, at least, would you like to go back to the liquor rules of my youthful Manitoba? Do you feel nostalgic about those old Manitoba Liquor Commission stores? You gave your address, wrote down on a slip of paper what alcoholic beverage you were insisting on abusing, and the clerk would bring it out to you. If they were really doing their provincial bureaucracy job, they would give you an intimidating, condemnatory scowl.

And, I remember the beer parlours of my youth. No women. You cannot take your beer from one table to another. (The bar staff have to do it, and how dare you! Do you think you are here to engage engage in friendly conversation and meet new people!)

And then, there were the separate rooms for "ladies and escorts". Those ladies were subject to scrutiny. The cops would drop by, just to make sure that there was no payment being exchanged for out of bar services.

It almost gets me nostalgic. But, here's the deal. Booze industry folks, if you don't want to go back, what is anybody's objection to having marijuana lounges and clubs? No, it wouldn't be a tobacco-cancer environment like those smoking bars of old. Who is going to hot box a reefer? You don't chain smoke them. If you tried, you would be out cold. A cloud of smoke that thick would have everybody under the table.

The Macho-Aggression Fighting Subtext

What is the presumption of getting drunk? It's OK to be aggressive. It's OK to be a slob. Fighting is manly. So is hassling women. If they are drunk too, well, it is open season.

There is a clear cultural comparison going on about a liquor high versus a weed one. A liquor high is an historic, manly appropriate, really Canadian one. By contrast, a weed high is a wimp one.

There is still a lot of social assertive work to be done. I hope the now legal weeders of Canada don't concede anything. They need to be saying, if anything, our weed high is better than yours, and a lot less risky to women. I don't think we are going to see a lot of marijuana-driven weed brawls on the sidewalks of our Canada.

Stop The Media Hysterics

I have commented on it with regard to the NAFTA-USMCA supposed crisis, which wasn't, despite over a year of various Canadian media commentators preaching gloom and doom. It's the same for weed. I almost wonder whether the Canadian news media have developed an urgent desire to emulate FOX.

I don't indulge in either booze or weed, but I know enough people who do. Booze people and weed people are looking for two very different types of high. There are lots and lots of booze loyalists in Canada. They have no interest in getting contemplative and mellow. They want that aggressive, bother women, wanna step outside, high. They are not a market for weed. The market for weed highs in Canada will never be anywhere near the market for booze highs. Most of Canada's adult population won't want weed.

And, the media have been expressing anxiety about different weed rules in different provinces. Surely it is very important for all to have the same rules?

Why? Did anybody ever suggest that all the provinces and territories sell liquor the same way? Each one has been doing their own booze thing for many decades. The Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed, you can't even buy your liquor in another province. The media have been generating a false issue.

And, what's wrong? Shouldn't the whole system have been up and running on October 17. Why? It's a new industry. These things take time. The provincial weed markets are supported by some very sophisticated AI. Data will get gathered. The provinces and the industry will adjust. We have started a transitional period. It will all get sorted out.

Let Us Admit That We Have A Canadian Culture War, That Is Far From Being Concluded

The proud controllers of Canada are doing their very best. OK, recreational weed is now legal, but you weeders are bad folks anyhow. You can't be relied on and need to be tightly controlled.

My thought is, we need to be saying that this part of Canada needs to end. The controllers are hypocrites. They won't defy themselves a stiff drink, but they will deny you a mellow weed.

We badly need to end the "grim Canada" mentality. There is too much stress in Canada, too many anxious people. Legal weed invites us to admit, Canada has a a problem with people who want to be happy. They are expected to have an excuse for how they get happy, some rationalization, some justification. That's nonsense. They don't need to excuse themselves. That type of thinking needs to end.

Martin Levine

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