Cannabis stigma goes up in smoke

By Lawrence Bailey

What a crime ridden society full of drug addled criminals devoid of morality and good sense we live in. Honestly. Over half the people in Canada are cold, hard criminals. Joint toting, reefer smoking hoodlums the lot of them.


People, more importantly politicians, are finally starting to come to their senses about marijuana use and it seems that decriminalization will only be a matter of time. But don’t think it will happen without comment, complaint or ignorant fear mongering.

"It’s a gateway drug!" scream the unintentionally ironic and horribly uninformed masses over a couple of fingers of Scotch and a cigar. "It will lead to a listless, unmotivated, coked up generation! It will take root, addicting them while they’re young and never letting go! It will be humanity’s downfall!"

Riiight. Just like it ruined the Netherlands, a country where universal decriminalization and limited legalization resulted in a booming tourism industry and a relatively low percentage of people under the age of 30 with addiction problems. We wouldn’t want that, now, would we?

Simply put, curiosity leads an individual to try harder drugs, not a couple of joints. That’s why I’ve tried coke, dropped acid and fostered a lifelong love affair with mushrooms. It wasn’t a case of smoking up and all of a sudden getting an uncontrollable and fiendish urge to run to my nearest street corner and pump my veins full of heroin. It was because I was young, exploring all the world had to offer. That logic is likely born of the same minds who believe the JFK "Magic Bullet" theory.

Not only is marijuana not the dangerous, destructive force some may have you believe, it is far less threatening than many of our favorite socially acceptable vices. Last time I checked, weed wasn’t high in cholesterol, saturated fats or carcinogenic acrylamides like that Big Mac Meal you had for lunch yesterday. I also haven’t heard anyone, anywhere state that a joint or two or even five a day will lead to cancerous masses developing in your lungs as rapidly as a pack or two of cigarettes. And when was the last time a stoned driver left a family fatherless or you witness a bar fight between two blunted patrons? Didn’t think so.

So why are cigarettes, alcohol and cancerous foodstuffs commonplace, entirely legal and socially tolerated? Simple: they pave our roads, fund our social programs and line the coffers of all three levels of government with the residual wealth they create.

And cannabis is still outlawed why? As far as decriminalization goes, the governmental apparatus would suddenly have a shwack of resources to redeploy. Instead of chasing down a 14-year-old skateboarder who was smoking a five chunk out of a $20 pipe, narcotic officers could crack down on the suppliers, people likely to not only be selling weed, but acid, coke and God knows what else. The result would be a culture of self-sufficiency and a decrease, albeit slight, in the Canadian criminal element. With fewer people selling, more people would start growing for personal use. Consequently, there wouldn’t be as many drug-related bad debts, disagreements, conflicts or killings.

Were marijuana legalized, it would irk regular consumers like myself to buy the beleaguered plant in a 7-11. However, the accompanying wealth generated for the country as a whole would be glorious. Marijuana growth and distribution is already the fastest growing industry in British Columbia and is estimated as being the third largest behind logging and fisheries. The Kootenay Valley was seemingly created for that sole purpose. So how can the government and the private sector ignore such a golden opportunity in our supposedly capitalist society? It’s ridiculous, really.

We have a golden opportunity in this country to capitalize on our geographic situation and strengthen our state, we must simply acknowledge that fact and act upon it.

As far as critics are concerned, unless they also support prohibition, a tobacco ban and stringent regulations on the quality of food for sale I’d thank them to keep their gums from flapping and leave me in peace to blaze my daily blunt and lead a successful, healthy, productive life.

Lawrence Bailey can be reached at

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