Pubdate: Thu, 20 Jul 2017
Source: Advertiser (CN NF)
Copyright: 2017 Advertiser
Author: Andy Barker
Page: 5


In my boyhood days it was not uncommon to see, in an American Western
movie, a US Cavalry officer look concerned at the sight of smoke
signals on the trail ahead.

Smoke signals often meant a battle was about to happen with the usual
loser being - the Indians, of course!

However, in July 2018, smoke signals of a totally different kind will
be rising all across Canada with the legalization of marijuana. All
Canadians, including status and non-status Indians, will be able to
sit on their back bridges and light up a joint and blow their own
smoke signals to their hearts' delight. For some, legalization means
nirvana; for others, it's an uneasiness. Who will be the losers on
this new trail we are about to take?

Legalization is still a work in progress with a lot of i's to be
dotted and t's to be crossed. Marijuana, pot, weed, is akin to alcohol
in that it affects your reasoning and motor skills, thus, should we
not expect similar restrictions including: who grows it; who sells it;
legal age for purchase and use; what will be the THC levels;
restricted hours of legal selling; where you can use it; restrictions
while operating vehicles; and how much will it be taxed.

It's the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana that gives the user a 
high and marijuana ain't what it used to be with the THC levels much 
higher than a couple decades ago (Marijuana stronger than ever; Forbes: 
March 23, 2015). The THC in weed gets you stoned whereas weed with a 
higher CBD (cannabinol) is one used by those seeking pain relief; thus, 
medicinal marijuana.

Canada will not be the first nation of legal pot heads. Uruguay has
that jump by a couple of years, and it is running into problems
(Legalizing weed: how Uruguay tripped up; MacLean's: March 17, 2017)
including not being fully prepared to handle the legalization.

One would hope that the federal government will not recklessly stick
to the proposed date if all the recommendations for legal use are not
in place. Meanwhile, those individuals and companies seeking windfall
profits heading their way just want to get on with it; no what matter
the pitfalls may be for society.

If marijuana was the only drug issue on the table it would be a bit of
a relief. However, many persons have moved beyond weed to cocaine,
heroin, and a whole concoction of opioids (pain killers) medically
prescribed, but either addictive or abused with fentanyl, the latest
opioid to attract our attention.

Sadly, nowadays loads of people have an abundance of material things,
but lack the inner core, the spirit, of being high on life and living.

The quick march to the legalization of marijuana is concerning as we 
have done such a poor job with alcohol consumption. Alcohol does 
tremendous damage all around the world with binge drinking and 
addiction. Ireland is about to launch a new strategy on alcohol and drug 
use (Irish Times: July 17, 2017 - Leo Varadkar calls for Ireland to 
tackle its alcohol problem).

I grew up in the era of restricted alcohol use and there were plenty
of problems even then. However, in my early teen years and throughout
high school, alcohol use and abuse, was a non-issue for teens.

Almost 50 years ago I lived through the beginnings of the
liberalization of alcohol use: lowering the legal age from 21 to 19;
bars on campuses; bars pretty well at every event; advertising galore;
and extended hours at bars and pubs. Thus, is it any wonder now for
more than two decades that alcohol (and now drugs) use has become a
pitiful reality for all too many teens? When a recent high school
graduate tells you she can't remember her prom because she was so
drunk you get an idea how deep the gutter has become.

As weed is in our sights, it would be a good time to put the genie
back in the bottle with booze (and apply the criteria to weed) by
having health risks warnings on all products; banning all advertising,
displays, sponsorships, promotions, freebies, happy hours, and any
other methods that encourage more consumption.

Are putting the brakes on booze and establishing controls on weed
impractical? No so, if you take into consideration the clamp down on
impaired driving with larger fines, longer driving suspensions, and
even jail time. As well, zero tolerance for alcohol while driving
could very well become a reality as it is in the Czech Republic (the
zero there also applies to drugs). And surely the 180 degree U-turn on
tobacco from being cool to being a social pariah is a health and
economic blessing for us all. That turnaround was spurred on with the
US Surgeon General Report on Smoking and Health in 1964.

In those American Western movies it was not uncommon to see Indians
being given alcohol - fire water - and being ridiculed while drunk.
The damage done to American Indian communities (and all others) by
alcohol and drugs is no laughing matter.

Both of these beasts that plague First Nations communities are now
banned at powwows and other gatherings that are alcohol and drug free.
Might society as a whole be better off promoting more alcohol and drug
free events rather than going for the quick profits?

I have moved down the road of enjoying not only regular beer, but beer
that is completely alcohol free; particularly, the better brewed
brands produced in Germany.

As for weed, I am sticking to yanking out the ones that pop up in my
garden as they make it ever more difficult for my valued plants to be
their best; thrive and grow.

That gardening care politicians ought to keep front and center in the
process of legalization of marijuana; to ignore weed getting out of
control is to ignore it at our peril.
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MAP posted-by: Matt