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Hallelujah. The much-maligned marijuana, banned in Canada in 1923, has finally won a hard-fought battle for legitimacy. It’s definitely ‘high’ time.
Herein, we confess our opinions and usage (mostly one of us) and swap tales less often told of Mary Jane, through the female lens.
Karalee: “Mom, do you wanna vape this weekend,” my son asked recently, (and you know I’m not talking nicotine). How I got from ‘don’t smoke dope kids’ to ‘Ok, honey… maybe next weekend,’ I’m not entirely sure. Of course, being I’m Jamaican-Canadian and grew up watching my otherwise business-like dad nurture ganja plants, maybe it was inevitable...
The first time I smoked was at 17. All I remember was eating a sub and asking friends between bites, “Am I a robot?” Dope was no biggie in the ’70s, and good kids were as likely to partake as anyone. The school smoking area was rife with the familiar skunk odour by 10 a.m. most days, and many snuck out for a quick puff between class. (Rumour had it, so did the film arts teacher.) By my late 20s, I’d swapped out doobies for diapers, and forgot weed until my sons were teenagers. Hypocrisy immediately kicked in, me pooh-poohing dope, as if I’d never touched the stuff.
Truly, of the countless fibs employed in raising my sons (Santa, Easter Bunny, life is fair…), the evils of dope smoking lie was hypocritical to the max. Through the years, I’d seen more addiction, destruction, death and violence related to alcohol than weed. Eventually, conscience won over. I came clean to my sons, opening the door for them to come clean with me. Lots of good came from that, including honest, open discussions plus solving the mystery of the Christmas ornament bong (found in basement) that all three sons swore they’d never seen before. Turns out, the middle son made it.
Jill: Personally, I’ve never been much of a smoker, so I don’t have a funny “coming clean” story. Growing up, though, I had a hippie aunt and uncle who were known for their weed adventures which was mainly kept on the down low. My older cousins shared funny stories though I never knew whether to take them seriously or not. Thirteen-year-old me thought it was the most scandalous thing ever; grownups smoking weed?! Isn’t that for teenage boys who drive Pontiac Sunfires and spend weekends sitting in parking lots? Looking back, I can’t help but laugh.
Since legalization, I’ve become even more fascinated by the various types of weed and their respective benefits. For someone who knows next to nothing, its been fun learning about it, without worrying that I should hide. It’s nice that the stigma and stereotypes attached to smoking cannabis have shifted for the next generations of Canadians.
One of the things that caught my attention is the people from all walks of life lining up outside the NSLC to pick up their legal weed. It’s not that I was under the impression that only people who fit the stoner stereotype smoked, but it seems everyone and their mother has been hiding their favourite pastime for years. I love it. It’s priceless to see professors, lawyers, chefs, artists and students hanging out in line, mingling over their newfound common interest.
It also stood out to me that each time you mention smoking, Karalee, it’s with friends, and now even with your son. Though many smoke in solitude, I always thought of it as a social act. Watching the phenomenon of smoking being out in the open seems to be amplifying its social side.
Karalee: The solo male stoner trope, I think, was a misnomer popularized by Hollywood movies that stuck (like hash oil to rolling papers). And sure, there will always be the guy who relishes partaking solo, but it’s 2018. Time to extinguish the smoke-alone male cliché and light up the modern stereotype: Moms.Start with me, a ragingly average, law-abiding 57-year old woman, and add in girlfriends up to age 73, moms, aunts, grandmas, married and single, mostly gainfully employed (except me) and from all walks of regular life. Absolutely, we prefer cannabis in the company of others and, typically, with food. This last winter the high-light of one dinner party were some very special ginger weed cookies as the first course. (Best. Dinner. Ever.) And at Christmas, a friend gifted me cannabis-infused taffies, and I, in turn, stuffed a few extras in my sons’ Christmas stockings. And Yup, my pot hiatus ended before legalization because I never did drink the Kool-Aid that it was a gateway drug or led to crime, and the facts back me up.
Innumerable studies have been conducted on the Gateway Drug Theory, claiming pot leads to addiction and hard drugs. According to a recent Psychology Today article, the research is weak, extenuating factors complex and a causal relationship questionable (95 per cent of heavy marijuana users do NOT progress to hard drugs). Crime-wise, in 2016 Statistics Canada reported that 76 per cent of all cannabis-related charges were for possession, yet crimes associated with altered states had minimal, if any, correlation to marijuana usage. Consider impaired driving charges, for example. Four per cent of the total that year were attributable to drug use, though not necessarily marijuana. The other 96 per cent? Alcohol. Imagine if everyone who had a drink in hand was charged for possession. Might have saved some lives.
Jill: You’re probably right about that, but I don’t know what I would do if my glass of Chardonnay could land me a possession charge. I might not make it through the week. The issue of cannabis-related crime caught my attention too, and I’m thankful to hear that a bill should be passed by the end of the year to pardon past simple possession charges.
I’d say there has only really been one disappointment in the legalization process for me, which is wasteful packaging. I’m not sure if it’s Canada-wide, but I can speak to the NSLC, at least. One gram is often contained in a plastic container, within a box stuffed with more filler, within a bag. I’m anxious to see how or if future packaging will shift green… pardon the pun. I have to admit, though, I really dig the David’s-Tea-meets-Apple-Store layout of NSLC’s Cannabis section.
Overall, this whole legalization experience has been totally cool for someone on the outskirts looking in.
Karalee: The NSLC also offers up a retro experience on my end, reminiscent of the days when buying alcohol was a clandestine, hidden-from-view experience (with a contradictory ‘one for the road’ reality). I remember going to the liquor store with my dad and watching him use a ballpoint pen to fill out a white paper slip. He’d pass that to a disapproving man (always a man) standing behind a high, long counter who would then disappear behind a door to fill the order, brown paper bag, et al.
You know, Jill, every culture in the world includes either use and acceptance of hallucinogenic substances or plays an endless whack-a-mole game attempting to eradicate them. With weed legalized, perhaps our government will redirect the time, resources and money dedicated to penalizing weed users in a more useful direction, such as the real crisis with opioids, both legal, such as Oxycontin, and not.
Jill: We absolutely share that hope, Karalee. Meanwhile, one thing is for sure, this whole legalization thing is likely going to keep our “friendly happy Canadian” stereotype safe for years to come.