Pubdate: Fri, 11 Aug 2017
Source: Prince George Citizen (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Prince George Citizen
Author: Neil Godbout
Page: 6


Part two of two

Marijuana is like Pink Floyd.

The English group remains hugely popular. A cover band played Prince
George earlier this year, sold out the Playhouse and earned a standing
ovation at the end. Former Floyd man Roger Waters is currently touring
the biggest arena venues in North America, mixing in a few new songs
with the Floyd classics.

Not bad for a band that except for two songs - Another Brick In The
Wall and Money - had little commercial radio presence in their heyday.
Unlike Fleetwood Mac, Elton John and the Eagles, who poured out
radio-friendly four-minute classics at will during the 1970s, the
Floyd released dense concept albums with songs more than 10 minutes
long, odd time signatures and lengthy instrumental passages.

Marijuana has been more popular with more people for even longer than
Pink Floyd, despite the fact that the drug is looked down upon in most
social circles. Like the Floyd, marijuana has stayed cool because it's
different, it's rebellious and people just like the way it makes them

Comfortably numb, indeed.

Pink Floyd was never been a critical darling. Rolling Stone and most
of the rock press during the 1970s were far more enamored with punk,
post-punk and musical outliers like David Bowie and Bob Dylan than
four Brits putting out records about mental illness and "quiet

Marijuana has been the same way, enjoyed only by a certain class of
people for a short period of time in their misspent youth. When people
confess that they "experimented" with drugs in their younger years,
they usually mean they went to a few parties, inhaled when the reefer
was passed to them and got stoned.

Most quit but stuck with booze, which is more socially acceptable and
somehow more adult. Of course, there is a pecking order in alcohol
consumption, as well. Drinking scotch and wine is seen as more mature
than drinking beers and coolers. Smoking the weekend cigar is fine,
smoking cigarettes much less so and smoking a joint seems something
stupid, immature people do.

The stoner image in society is simultaneously revered and mocked,
playing both the class clown and the gentle source of wisdom and
insight, the lazy, useless "dude" who is also admired for rejecting
the fruitless chase for money, power and popularity.

Marijuana also has a class problem. Pot has always been seen as cheap
and lower class. The social and selfless act of puff and pass is an
essential part of pot culture but the idea of taking a swig out of a
bottle of whisky or wine and then passing it to the next person is
done in back alleys, not in the homes of so-called respectable people.
Among the more affluent looking for something both stiffer and more
dangerous than booze but also more classy than pot, cocaine has been
the drug of choice for decades now.

In both the United States and Canada, there is also a racial (and
racist) connection to pot. Marijuana was portrayed as just another
tool for black kids to entice the good white boys and girls off the
proper path. The image of Bob Marley and other Jamaican reggae artists
and the stoner Cheech and Chong movies (later updated with Harold and
Kumar) were popular with white audiences partly because they confirmed
racial stereotypes.

Cultural history, particularly in North America, shows a clear link
between the social acceptability of products and behaviours and their
movement into the white mainstream. Rock and roll music was
unacceptable until Elvis Presley made it so. Bourbon was white trash
hootch made by rednecks in Kentucky until it became popular in the
wealthier urban centres as a uniquely American whisky. Mormonism is
the religious equivalent of bourbon, a rural American adaptation to
Christianity frowned upon for more than a century before finally
moving in the white mainstream and social respectability.

Marijuana seems on the cusp of widespread acceptance, particularly if
its medicinal use continues to grow and research confirms its relative
safety and benefits for adults suffering from a host of physical and
psychological ailments.

The public changes of heart by people in power, like the one Justin
Trudeau underwent, are also helping. Just five years ago, he was still
speaking of pot's ill effects and his opposition to legalization. As
Susan Delacourt explained in an excellent column last weekend in the
Toronto Star, Trudeau didn't start to change his mind until an
emotional meeting in November 2012 with two women from the National
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Kelly Coulter and
Andrea Matrosovs stressed that legalization, not decriminalization,
was needed to take away the proceeds of pot away from organized crime.
Trudeau realized he could have it both ways politically, by being
liberal on marijuana while still tough on gangs, crime and restricting
access to kids. He finally went public with his change in July 2013,
during a visit to (where else?) B.C.

The Harper Conservatives went crazy, of course, but for a quiet but
significant number of Canadians, that modern, common-sense approach to
marijuana seemed far more reasonable than old-school finger wagging.

As the moralizing against marijuana finally runs out of air, it seems
pot's time is upon us at long last.

Take a deep breath and then exhale, everyone. The world won't end
because pot is legal and a store on Third Avenue in Prince George is
selling it.

Meanwhile, it's time to refocus conservative outrage and liberal hand
wringing on the devastating opioid crisis (even Donald Trump agrees
it's a YUGE problem), which is killing thousands, filling hospital
emergency wards, consuming valuable time and resources of police and
first responders, ruining families, destroying the social fabric of
communities and making criminals rich.
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MAP posted-by: Matt