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Brian Jones: 2018 is gonna be far-out, man

A man smokes a joint during the annual 4-20 cannabis culture celebration at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on April 20, 2017.
A man smokes a joint during the annual 4-20 cannabis culture celebration at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on April 20, 2017. - Canadian Press

Predictions and Top 10 lists are popular topics this time of year, but never mind the other nine — let’s talk dope and hypocrisy.

After half a century of pointless law enforcement and the demonstrably insane “war on drugs,” which Canada mindlessly followed the U.S.A. into, 2018 will prove to be a historic year — come July, if the federal Liberals follow through on their promise to legalize marijuana, the hippies and stoners will be proven right, and the politicians, police chiefs and conservative pundits will be proven wrong.

There has never been a justifiable reason why marijuana is illegal. Counter-culture weirdoes have been saying so for two generations, but, being counter-culture weirdoes, they always lost the argument. Guys in tie-dyed T-shirts don’t sound as authoritative as guys in suits or police uniforms.

Well, 2018 is victory year for the weirdoes.

The suits and uniforms were wrong all along. Their legacy is 50-plus years of an unnecessary prohibition that brought countless unjust arrests, charges, jail terms and criminal records. This legacy is the real “reefer madness.”

I was an undergraduate in the 1970s when I first heard the argument — posited by a smarter undergraduate — that the real reason marijuana is illegal is because the state couldn’t figure out a way to profit from it.

The supposedly evil and dangerous “weed” could be produced in ample quantities simply by dropping seeds into dirt. It took little time or effort, unlike, say, homemade wine or beer.

The easy production of pot would make it almost impossible for any government to control and profit from — thus its illegality.

If you find the smart undergraduate’s argument far-fetched, consider the news pages these days. As the date of state-sanctioned toking draws closer, provincial governments have announced various rules and laws regarding its production, distribution, sale, pricing, taxation, etc. Their common concern is, “How do we profit from this?” — “we” being, of course, the government.

Give a gold star to the smart undergraduate.

Some regulations are laughable, even without getting high.

Among the stupid laws is the Newfoundland government’s stipulation that a household will be allowed to grow a maximum of four marijuana plants.

Why can’t your family grow five marijuana plants? Or six? Because that would cut into the government’s profits.

The hypocrisy is thicker than the smoke at a Boy Scouts campout. There has been no accompanying announcement that, henceforth, home brewers will be limited to producing four bottles of beer, or do-it-yourself vintners limited to making only four bottles of wine. And yet, logical consistency in the law would require that exactly those limitations be introduced.

But then, marijuana laws have never been subject to the requirements of logic, not in the 1970s and not even in this great, heralded year of 2018. There is something about pot that makes politicians’ minds go fuzzy. All these years, they may as well have been stoned out of their heads, for all the rationality they’ve applied to the subject.

Personally, I’m thinking about growing five marijuana plants this summer. I hope enough people will do the same, so we can hire Ches Crosbie to file a class-action lawsuit on our behalf. It should be easily winnable after he becomes premier.

Another smart undergraduate once said the free market would do more to destroy the illegal drug trade than all the cops and vice squads have (not) done. In 2018, with legalization, organized crime would lose a major stream of revenue as marijuana became widely and cheaply produced.

Politicians — the new drug lords — put a quick end to that notion. Rather than simply declaring, “Go ahead. Grow it. Smoke it. Sell it,” provincial governments have been busily handing out monopolies to corporate pot producers. They tout competition and innovation, but then opt for more hypocrisy by outlawing a free market. It makes you wonder what they’re smoking.


Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at

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