There’s little doubt that cannabis and cannabinoids (not an alien race of green-skinned interstellar travellers, but the compounds that comprise the active ingredients in cannabis, like THC (which makes you loopy) and CBD (which does not)) will be big business in the coming years, although it’s uncertain whether legal weed will be the revenue-generating panacea it’s hyped to be. Watching governments and fear mongers wrestle over this whole thing has been like watching a couple of pugs try to find a hot dog under a blanket.
Cannabis, aka the devil’s lettuce, aka mary jane, aka marijuana, aka weed, aka reefer, aka green…will become legal in Canada on 17 October. This was one of the campaign platforms that supposedly propelled Justin Trudeau from “serious contender with truly great hair and sick yoga moves” to “Canada’s first not-lame Prime Minister since …uh. Since. Well Mulroney had that voice…John Turner? Maybe Arthur Meighen?” (No, I do not actually know this much about Canadian Prime Ministers. I just looked at some photos and picked out the ones who looked the least lame.)
Ever since that platform was unleashed upon an unsuspecting Canadian populace, we have, collectively, as an entire country, vacillated between two reactions: “DUUUUUDE! WEEEED!” and “WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!?”
It should be mentioned that Canada has *never* advocated selling cannabis to children, but for some reason, that’s what folks afraid of the colour green have taken to heart over this legislation.
Even the government’s surveys about legalisation were couched in pearl-clutching terror. Questions like “do you agree that cannabis should not be sold near schools?” inspired knee-jerk reactions. Who the heck would say “no” to that question? Black market dealers, that’s who. People who wear “hoodies”. These questions were designed to make even the stoutest-hearted among us to fear the reefer.
If you want to buy the jazz cabbage right now, your best bet is to head on over to your local high school (ha!) and look for the kids with the goofy grins. Regulation will, at least in theory, make it more difficult for local teens to be able to sell the blazin’ experience. It won’t be impossible for kids to get kush, just like it’s not impossible for kids to get cigarettes or booze.
Where were the questions we all desperately wanted answered? Questions like:
How far will snacks be located from pot shops?
Will it still be legal to wear tie-dye?
Does anyone know where the roach landed?
No, seriously, what?
Governments may as well have prefaced every one of those public consultation surveys with a mandatory viewing of “Reefer Madness”, which one hundred percent accurately* portrays cannabis users as violent, psychotic people who lock each other in closets and make scary faces. This isn’t to say there aren’t real fears surrounding cannabis use; like any substance that causes perception- or mind-altering effects, there is the chance of addiction and of overuse and/or abuse. There’s the very real and valid fear that people under the influence of cannabis will decide to pilot vehicles, putting themselves and everyone else around them at huge risk. But the terror quotient was more than a little overblown, and made it sound like the second bud hits the streets legally, kindergarten children will be going to the sandbox high as kites.
To be fair, some of the surveys that went around did ask whether revenues from cannabis sales should be used to fund anti-addiction programs and/or addictions treatment programs. There were questions about what to do with those who choose to drive under the influence and whether the punitive measures for doing so should be more or less severe than current driving while under the influence punishments.
Bringing a formerly controlled substance into fully legal status (unless it’s part of a candy bar, in which case, there are STUDIES that must be done) isn’t easy. There have to be studies. Studies of the studies. Analyses. Regulations. Rules about what you can and can’t name a waccy baccy shop and what you can and can’t sell for cheeba-adjacent materials. But the biggest obstacle to overcome is fear.
“I just don’t know what’s going to happen when that marijuana is legal,” is a common refrain on coffee row.
The answer is: probably not a lot other than couch surfing and giggling. Maybe some loud music. Ganja has been around for decades; it’s not like legalisation means the dope police are going to break down your door, shove a doobie in your mouth, hold your nose, and force you to inhale. There aren’t going to be roving gangs of red-eyed snickerers ambling through your neighbourhoods asking if you have any gum. The world, civilisation – as we know it – isn’t going to end. It might get a little goofier.
In fact, there will probably be a lot of people who head out to their local head shops the second they open on October 17, and they’ll buy their thirty grams (which is apparently equivalent to one seed) and they’ll spark up and there will be a lot of glassy-eyed stares for a few months. Then, once folks remember that 80% of getting high is deciding when to go to bed, it’ll settle down. It will be the same as it ever was, with some people taking a case of beer to a party and some people taking a joint. We’ll look back on these days of dithering as, as the Bard put it, “much ado about nothing”.
*This statistic is overblown by about 100%. The scariest thing most people do while using cannabis is to become unsure whether they still have feet.