Lighten Up on Pot Growers, Canada's on a Roll

  Lighten Up on Pot Growers, Canada's on a Roll

Posted by CN Staff on January 17, 2004 at 22:52:30 PT
By Ben Rayner 
Source: Toronto Star  

An increasingly common greeting among Canadians abroad, I've observed in recent years, is the knowing wink and the universal sign language for "puff, puff." It's been a fairly common greeting for this Canadian abroad, in any case. And while I confess the occasional dim glaze in my eyes might betray an affinity for certain untoward habits, I'm not given to wearing Phish tie-dyes, flip-flops, a long beard or other signifiers of the "stoner" species when travelling outside the country — especially when travelling outside the country involves going anywhere near the United States.
A crewcut, a Bible and a Stars-'n'-Stripes lapel pin are best advised these days, unless you fancy a date with a rubber glove and a ticket to Guantanamo Bay.I am thus forced to conclude there's a grain of truth to this talk of Canada being one of the world's largest exporters of marijuana. Hard to quantify this sort of thing, of course, since there aren't a lot of records kept and police and customs officials tend to exaggerate "seizure" statistics for their own purposes. But I do know of a great deal of anecdotal international evidence to support the claim that Canada produces really good weed. And the size and scale of the two massive grow operations uncovered in Barrie last week suggest that the amount of pot being produced in southern Ontario far outstrips local demand.Still, let's be honest, it's better to be known for exporting weed than for exporting troops, high-tech military hardware and political xenophobia, isn't it? This is why I disagree with the observations of folks like CTV's Lloyd Robertson, who early last week proclaimed on the evening newscast that this was "the growth industry our country doesn't need" and a trend sending our national reputation "up in smoke." Same with the police spin on the matter, which asserts that marijuana usage and production in this country are at "epidemic" proportions and that the best solution is to ratchet up the legal penalties — and, as usual, to put more cops on the beat to deal with the scourge.I even disagree with the Liberal government's current, tentatively permissive stance on pot, which isn't that permissive, really.The marijuana-reform legislation left in Prime Minister Paul Martin's hands by Jean Chrétien might propose imposing a small fine only for possession of small amounts of pot, but it also falls right in line with hard-line police demands when it comes to growing and trafficking.Just let it go, folks. Have the guts to admit that the nearly century-long effort to persuade the average Canadian of marijuana's evils has been buried by its inherent inability to be particularly evil. It's somewhat counterproductive, certainly, probably best not used in tandem with a motor vehicle or heavy machinery, and not exactly great for your health (inhaling smoke of any kind rarely is). But neither is beer — the product that was previously made, legally and taxably and according to government standards, in the Molson Brewery site where the largest marijuana cache in Canadian history was unearthed last weekend.Our farmers are chronically disenchanted, several of our fisheries have no fish and the cattle industry is about to nosedive; here, we have a lucrative cash crop that'll grow in ditches.But if we don't have the legislative guts to acknowledge the relative harmlessness of legalized marijuana — "legal" tobacco is responsible for 71 per cent of the world's seven million annual "drug-related deaths," according to the Swiss Addiction Research Institute, while alcohol takes care of another 26 per cent — and to establish some kind of state-monitored apparatus for getting our huge pot crop to consumers, then let's at least agree to informally look the other way so a sizeable chunk of the population can go about its daily business of buying, selling and growing pot without fear of legal reprisal. It's obviously not discouraging anyone, anyway.True, the U.S. government is something of an obstacle. This is an administration so hung up on its wholly disastrous War on Drugs that it's willing to unleash a "pathogenic fungus fusarium oxysporum" — essentially one of those biological weapons the Americans were supposed to find in Iraq — on coca crops in Colombia, untested and with no thought for the local health or agricultural consequences, to arrest the flow of cocaine through its borders. The White House stopped making sense about drugs a long time ago.There's no better way to teach than by example, though. If the streets of a marijuana-friendly Canada aren't regularly strafed by gunfire and peopled with zombified heroin addicts lured through the weed "gateway" in five or 10 years, and instead are just a bit mellower, maaan, than they were before, the States and others of that mindset will have precious little ammunition for anti-pot policies. There's already a growing chorus of Americans who think their country might benefit from being a little more like its neighbour to the north."Those crazy Canadians. They're so gay! As they should be. Really, why wouldn't you be gay if you were Canadian? You've got good music television, socialized medicine, legal marijuana, homosexual marriage and a government that's not insane," remarked a Village Voice writer last August — somewhat erroneously, but with heart in the right place — in a piece on Toronto's "gay church folk orchestra" the Hidden Cameras. "Man, if I lived in Canada right now, I'd be so gay all the time, nothing would be able to bring me down. Except maybe SARS."What's wrong with being known as a progressive, peace-loving (if slightly dazed) nation that trusts its citizens' judgment enough to let them make their own decisions about what they will or will not put into their bodies? And while we're thinking progressively, why not put the 30,000 high-grade hydrophonic plants seized during last week's Barrie raids to good use? Rather than burying them or incinerating them, why not supply the thousands of Canadians who would benefit from medicinal marijuana, yet who have consistently been failed by the Liberals' own dodgy Manitoba growing operations and legal muddling of the matter. That is, if dumping the pile in Nathan Phillips Square and looking the other way for half an hour isn't an option. It's not an option, is it?Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)Author: Ben RaynerPublished: January 18, 2004Copyright: 2004 The Toronto Star Contact: lettertoed Website: Related Articles:A 'Growing Like Weeds', Indeed! Rid of Unwanted Weed Bust Worth $30-million, Police Say

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Comment #8 posted by DeVoHawk on January 18, 2004 at 16:16:19 PT
Venn Diagram
Jose: there has to be overlap of the two groups. Also the domain "drug-related deaths" is not very clear. Surely this can't include pharmaceutical drugs."There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics." -- Autobiography of Mark Twain 
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on January 18, 2004 at 08:37:01 PT
Thanks! It's posted now too! 
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on January 18, 2004 at 08:35:52 PT
Way to go! I have the article posted now! 
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Comment #5 posted by Kegan on January 18, 2004 at 06:30:35 PT
Ottawa, Children's Book, Compassion Club Sun, January 18, 2004 
A pipe dream for Ottawa
Kid's book part of effort to help start medicinal pot club
By NELLY ELAYOUBI, Ottawa Sun GROUP of Ottawa medicinal pot users is working to establish a Compassion
Club by the summer to help people with medical conditions access good, clean
cannabis. "We want the community to know that what we want to set up is not
some little hash club. It's something to help the community where Health
Canada has failed," said Russell Barth, a federal medical marijuana licence
holder, who is spearheading a group trying to establish the club. 
Barth smokes about a gram a day to treat the pain, spasticity, insomnia,
anxiety, and nausea caused by his fibromyalgia. 
Barth's crusade started after a friend took off with $300 of his money when
he was supposed to get Barth pot from a "street source" in September 2002. 
He never came back and Barth had no money and no medicine. 
A group running an informal club in Ottawa came to his aid and he's since
vowed to establish a proper club in the capital. 
"We don't want to have something on Rideau St. with psychedelic paintings
and a big pot leaf in the window ... we want to have a discreet little
office and we'd like to establish a secure, reliable source," he said. 
He and several medicinal pot users want to model the club after ones in
Victoria, Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto. It would operate as a "drop-in
centre" where people could buy "clean" and "organically grown" pot in a safe
Barth explains members would have to have proof from a doctor that they
require the weed for medicinal purposes. 
Last April, he and his roommate, Christine Lowe, a medical pot licence
holder who suffers from epilepsy, published a book, Mommy's Funny Medicine,
to teach kids about medical marijuana. 
They did this with the help of Ottawa marijuana activist Mike Foster, the
owner of the Crosstown Traffic store on Bank St. The book costs $10, with
half going to start the Compassion Club in Ottawa. 
Barth also wants the club to be recognized as a non-profit organization
which will be run by volunteers. 
While he hopes the club isn't shut down by cops, he isn't too optimistic. He
recognizes police have to abide by the law, and said he wants to see the
laws changed to decriminalize pot. 
Anyone who wants a copy of the book, or an application for the club, can go
to Crosstown Traffic, 593-C Bank St. Phone 234-1210 for details. 
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Comment #4 posted by jose melendez on January 18, 2004 at 06:11:43 PT
Of course, what I'm really asking is whether those two specific products actually cause 97 percent of the world's drug-related deaths, and not as grammatically mangled below.
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Comment #3 posted by jose melendez on January 18, 2004 at 06:08:04 PT
" "legal" tobacco is responsible for 71 per cent of the world's seven million annual "drug-related deaths," according to the Swiss Addiction Research Institute, while alcohol takes care of another 26 per cent "Is this true, that cigarettes and booze really take 97 percent of the world's drug-related deaths?
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Comment #2 posted by afterburner on January 18, 2004 at 06:03:27 PT:
And in Today's Star...
Grow your own? It's a bummer
Jan. 18, 2004. 08:11 AMPut together a few thousand dollars to rent a house in an unsuspecting subdivision, another $10,000 for lights and fans, order cannabis seeds from the Internet, hire some trustworthy friends, and there you have it: the skeleton of a small marijuana grow-op. David Bruser reports.  [Full Story]
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on January 17, 2004 at 22:53:07 PT

Lighten Up on Pot Growers, Canada's on a Roll
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