Rhino's Ramblings: Electric Lettuce & the Man

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Robert Thomas

Hailed by many in the younger crowd – both progressive and conservative thinking – and generally disliked by the older crowd cannabis, marijuana, grass, bud, wacky weed or whatever you call it is for all intensive purposes legal for personal recreational use in Canada.

The great demon is now legally amongst us.

Hailed as a miracle cure for every ailment now and forever cannabis, or rather small amounts of government approved stuff, is now legal to possess and use in Canada albeit with a multitude of new restrictions.

Restrictions which have upset many of the younger folk who are just now finally realizing legalization is not all what they assumed and dreamt it would be. The old stock market adage could well be applied - celebrate on rumour but grumble when they roll out the reality.

I spoke to and interacted on social media with multiple locally educated cannabis proponents who are now shocked to find out that when it comes down to it there isn’t many places you can actually smoke or grow it. Their dreams of using it wherever up in smoke.

For instance if you are in a rental property your landlord can say no to your smoking or growing it – medicinal or not. And the seeds or seedlings must come from a government approved source unavailable until the Spring.

You can’t go out onto the city sidewalk and smoke it there as that will cost you some bucks. You can’t smoke it in your car as you could get an impaired. You can’t smoke it in a city park, nor a provincially run campground or park, nor in a bar, nor in most local hotel rooms, nor in your favourite burger joint’s parking lot – even if it makes you order a ton of fries the answer is a resolute no. A seeming blow to using it as a tourism draw.

You can take it on a plane, but you cannot smoke it anywhere near an airport nor on the said plane. That’s an absolute no no. And here is hoping that domestic flight you are taking isn’t directed to a US airport on an emergency as more than likely you’re headed for a little time in a US clink or a lengthy or permanent exclusion from the United States.

If you have ever used it you may find yourself lying to enter the United States as US Customs and Border Security agents are asking if you have ever imbibed and that also includes medicinally. If you answer yes or they catch you lying they send you back home.

Some have taken solace in the fact that Mexico's Supreme Court just ruled constitutionally it's legal for adult Mexican citizens can use cannabis. The thing is it doesn't include foreigners because you aren't a Mexican citizen. So you aren't likely going to be smoking it very long in Guadalajara on vacation before you sit in a Mexican jail.

Now other foreign countries have gotten into the act and they are starting to enforce their drug laws on their citizens while they are abroad. As someone put it you could be a South Korean immigrant here and end up 10 years after imbibing go back home to visit and end up spending five good years in jail. The same goes for Japan and it’s citizens.

Singapore has stepped it up even a notch more by stating anyone with any detectable amount – both foreigner or citizen - in a drug test they will punish you according to their very strict drug laws. And if you're in the airport in Singapore there is no opting out if they ask you to take a pee test. What that means is for most people you could abstain for a month prior to your trip to Singapore and then have a traceable amount of, or even a false positive test, and you are in for far be it from me to say a public caning – if you’re lucky.

Muslim countries elsewhere with their blend of civil and religious law have yet to issue their rules but they are expected to be harsher and perhaps enforced on a whim.

Countries like Ukraine and Belarus are already calling Canadians stoners and older people keep asking their 35 plus something old children is that guy stoned or does it come naturally? All their kids reply is “don’t worry he’s from Odessa.”

There is a shaking of the head once they find out you are from humour city all the while they’re looking around to make sure the Odessa produced program 'Naked and Funny' hasn’t got some secret cameras hidden nearby. You think about telling them not to worry all the time not letting it out you know a couple of guys who work on that show.

You think about the ocean and how in the past the British sailors use to get bored on long voyages and the ropes aboard ship – made with hemp back then – ended up getting smoked. It must have been quite taxing on officers way back then to keep the men away from the rope. Sort of like it was to enforce simple possession charges at the end of cannabis prohibition.

But then again once prohibition ended out stepped the government's taxpeople (you have to be Liberal politically correct in all of this) like a lurking tiger shark in shallow waters just waiting to grab your wallet and part of your buttocks for good measure. Suddenly the prices are so high your former back market supplier/unlicensed pharmaceutical supplier/drug dealer can raise prices 50 percent and still be 30 percent cheaper than the government.

It might sound all so taxing. As I remind you an initial argument for legalization included a heavy growth in tax revenues with it.

We all know though cannabis is creating jobs as producers worry about the impact of the Carbon Tax and whether or not they can grow it economically here or move production to let’s say Mexico. If approved massively increasing the price of fruits and winter vegetables as the electric lettuce is worth much more than the regular low octane plain lettuce stuff your pet rabbit eats.

Then again there is the big ethical question about how much arable agricultural land are we prepared to swap out from food to cannabis production for the recreational market? In a seemingly ever increasing hungry world is it, along with tobacco, morally headed out the door?

When it comes to tobacco though it’s users can now breath a sigh of relief because they can still legally smoke it many places cannabis users cannot. Cigarette smokers are not or the social pariahs they once were although the Canadian Cancer Society has tobacco users and vapers in their crosshairs. At least they are leaving the cannabis users alone – for now.

Study after study seems to be pouring out against the recreational use of cannabis it’s only got to be time until it’s proven cancerous and then look out.

The latest study says adolescents who don’t do the demon weed learn and concentrate better. It’s nothing earth shattering we all learnt this in the movie Fast Times at Ridgemount High with Spucolli that is if you weren’t too busy thinking about Phoebe Cates.

But for medicinal users this is no laughing matter as their medicine is now subject to taxation and due to demand of the recreational market increasing in price. And legal edibles are a year away.

With the mad rush to make cannabis legal, or should I say the government weed legal, there is the inevitable supply shortages with most stores in the province not even open, or unable to get stock if they are.

To add insult to injury people who invested in cannabis company shares lost double digit values of their shares as many of the proponents decided to cash in.

So to sum it all up the dire predictions of a society running amuck because of legalized weed isn’t even close to reality so far. In fact with more criminal offences out there, fines and a coming crack down on impaired driving right now it’s the opposite. Will it change? Perhaps just don’t hold your breath too long between puffs.

Cannabis legalization was a great rush to put through and it’s proponents were just too busy celebrating and assuming too much to read the fine print. If they did in the last paragraph of the new laws and regulations there is likely this closing sentence “You really didn’t think you could beat the Man, did you?”