HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html BC Culture - Please Smoke Pot Before You Read This
Pubdate: Mon, 08 Jul 2002
Source: Peak, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Peak Publications Society
Author: Adrian Nieoczym, Associate Staff Writer


Vancouver pot smokers gathered on Canada Day for a patriotic smoke-in. They 
took over the lawn at the art gallery for a rally that was remarkably 
different from other demonstrations held here in recent months.

There was the standard political demand (ie. legalise marijuana), but there 
was no economic critique, no objections to capitalism, globalisation or 
social inequality. Rather than criticise the current economic system, pot 
entrepreneurs were simply demanding that they be acknowledged as fully 
fledged, due paying members of the free market.

Many in the crowd of approximately 400 made the Canadian flag a part of 
their costumes, celebrating identities as Canadians and as pot smokers. 
There was lots of fun - everybody was tokin', talkin' and chillin'. The 
crowd was diverse; teenagers with wild hair shared joints and a laugh with 
adults dressed in GAP attire.

A friendly vibe of tolerance and acceptance filled the air along with a 
sweet smell.

While the crowd probably represented a diversity of political opinions as 
well as dress, the message of the rally was clear: pot dealers, growers and 
users are Canadians too, and we want our passion - smoking weed - to be 
sanctioned by the state.

Gordon Campbell and Jean Chretien, listen up: we demand our lifestyle be 
legitimised as a legal consumer choice.

Speakers made a point of addressing the political and social ramifications 
of keeping pot illegal, but most of the emphasis was on having a good time 
and getting high, and there's nothing wrong with that. Bands played, people 
danced, and merchants hawked their wares.

Dealers wandered through the masses, openly showing off their selection of 
herbs, while artisans offered an incredible array of smoking paraphernalia. 
A woman with pink hair, dressed in a purple cowgirl outfit, carried a 
basket with a sign saying $5 a joint.

People willingly let themselves be videotaped holding mega-ounces of BC's 
finest for sale.

Unlike other art gallery events, the police were almost nowhere to be seen. 
The few uniformed officers that were there hung out across the street 
chatting among themselves, leaning against the wall. They looked like they 
might have been enjoying a little second hand smoke exposure.

If there were any undercovers in the crowd, they certainly were not here to 
shut down illicit commerce.

One of the side effects of the burgeoning pot culture has been the 
neutering of marijuana as a symbol of rebellion.

It's practically a prescription drug, for heaven's sake, and some 
politicians from across the left-right spectrum are starting to openly 
endorse decriminalisation - and in some cases, outright legalisation.

Estimates put the value of the marijuana industry to the B.C. economy at 
anywhere between $2 billion and $10 billion, making it one of B.C.'s top 
three industries. A significant amount of that money circulates in the 
'legitimate' economy through the purchase of hydroponics equipment, 
gardening supplies, hydro electricity, zip lock baggies and other legal 
consumables. Given the depressed nature of B.C.'s forestry and tourism, pot 
might very well be at the top of B.C.'s economic leaderboard. It is very 
possible that pot is propping up the B.C. economy, preventing it from 
taking on third world status.

The establishment is surely profiting from marijuana.

With pot advocates only demanding that they be admitted out of the 
counter-culture and into mainstream capitalism, marijuana is not a threat 
to our society's ruling structures. It seems pretty obvious that pot would 
already be legal in Canada (especially in B.C.), except that we have to 
live next door to those crazy Americans. It is clear that it is past time 
to end the hypocrisy. Anti-pot laws only serve as harassment tools, 
deployed at the whims of government and police, so the sooner pot is 
legalised, the better.

There is something really depressing, however, about the idea of having to 
go into the Pacific Centre for a dime bag. They don't let teenagers with 
wild hair hang out in front of the GAP store there.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart