A Little Piece of Me In Every Part I Take

Okay, the LCBO-model for provincial cannabis sales is probably the best  model we could have hoped for, from our antediluvian political thinking.

The problem is, even if they open up a handful of shops in town, they probably won’t carry all of the strains cannabis users (like myself) have become accustomed to. If this was truly the same as alcohol, I would say ‘whatevs’ and move on. But this stuff is also medicine, with profoundly deeper experiences than any alcoholic beverage can produce.

Cannabis isn’t like alcohol. It’s not physically addictive, for starters, and it can be inhaled or ingested in ways that render it non-carcinogenic, as well, which makes it significantly less dangerous than we have been led to believe over the last 90 years of prohibition. The science is finally being done openly and properly.

But more than just its reputation is changing. Our understanding of the plant class we know as cannabis is changing as well. I’m concerned about the medical properties we are uncovering, which prove conclusively that this is both physically and psychologically  essential to the wellbeing of many, if not most of us. I know that sounds hippy dippy. I can live with that. I think we need to reconsider everything we think we know about cannabis, and unpack our prejudices to see for ourselves what cannabis is really like.

The open secret is, every strain of cannabis is significantly different from the next. These are complex organisms, and the effects of each strain is profoundly different from each other. Some promote weight gain, others weight loss; some head highs to relieve stress and anxiety, and still others promote pain relief and the psychological relief that pain-free existence affords patients.

But there is another issue that needs to be examined thoroughly and without the usual prejudice: Legal Cannabis Dispensaries.

Now, the legal dispensary boom in Ontario has been recent and startling, particularly in smaller cities like Hamilton, where you can now find a reliable dispensary on nearly every street in the downtown core, and others on the mountain. This isn’t JUST opportunity knocking, here. There has to be a real demand and need for the substance, if all of these dispensaries have been able to start and stay in business this long, even with periodic busts for those that skim a little too close to the line. I personally prefer dispensaries that are professional and give great customer service, like our local Natural Green Healing (hello, ladies), and I want to see more, not less, progress in this area. If the dispensaries are shut down without prejudice, and the contents treated like contraband, everyone who relies on the medicinal properties of cannabis will be punished because the legal system chose to criminalize instead of regulating it from a public safety standpoint. This should have been done decades ago, and now we’re still doing this dance as if the government is having trouble getting permission to do this thing that will change and improve our society.

Lest anyone think I’m overstating my point, let me make this clear: Cannabis will change our society. All of it. Not everyone will become a user. But everyone will have to change their viewpoint on this one, and it will affect our health and criminal policies significantly, whether we approve of ‘soft drugs’ or not.

Back in the spring of 2017, the paper I work on (2-time Maggie Awards’ Best Independent News Outlet nominee, The Hamilton Anvil) printed a full issue on drug legalization. We tried to cover the issues as they were being addressed back in the winter and fall of last year, before the announcement that legalization was being rolled out. Our least problem was that full legalization for both medical and recreational cannabis consumption would be delayed to the summer of 2018. The real problem is, many people’s lives have already been changed for the better, starting with the ex-criminals who have come out of the shadows to give competent and reliable cannabis retail service. These people are going to pay for our unwillingness to push our government to be both smart and compassionate with these people that we have come to know and trust. What will happen to them once their profession is relegated to the scrap heap? Their jobs will be taken over by ‘fully-legal’ stores and online services, which will send many of them back to the underground, selling the exotic buds that the big stores won’t be allowed to carry.

Think about that. We are going to perpetuate a criminal element and ensure that pot busts are still a thing, just because we don’t want the headache of decriminalizing so many growers, distributors, and tenders. We’re getting to the first step. This is good for everyone, whether they are going to be a user or not. But we’re poised to screw this up and create years of injustice and needless upheaval.

AMNESTY
What we need is to take a step back as a society and ask ourselves the very real, very serious question, “Is Cannabis Going To Harm Me or My Loved Ones?” I remember seeing alarming films that tried their best to demonize and vilify cannabis, teaching us from childhood not just to be concerned, but to be outright afraid and suspicious of cannabis. This is making it extremely difficult to think clearly about how cannabis legalization needs to be implemented to work effectively.

We need to remember why we’re doing this. We need to accept the amount of damage done by making this substance the focus of the DEA and the RCMP and municipal police departments all across north America. We have turbo-charged large criminal syndicates and marginalized anyone in our borders for using the stuff, whether medicinally or recreationally.

I’ll admit I was extremely leery of the whole scene, and unknowingly suffered emotionally, psychologically and even physically from not having safe, legal access to the strains I am learning are most effective for helping me curb my difficulties with Bipolar Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, and Social Anxiety, as well as to ease my problems with an old back injury, fallen arches, and several points of joint arthritis. Even after becoming a legal medical cannabis user, I still find I haven’t completely lost my aversion to the criminal element I grew up around as a child.

I think I’ve babbled enough. If you have any questions or better information, leave them in the comments. And thank you for reading.

Lee ‘Stoner Spouse’ McIlmoyle,
Somewhere in Limbo.

Don't be shy. Tell me what you really think, now.

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