Hicks on Biz: Pot has been popular for a while BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, APRIL 21, 2017
Marijuana is rushing out of the closet, what with the federal government’s plan to legalize marijuana use across Canada as of July 2018.
Which is somewhat ironic: Pot has been almost as common as booze, smoked by a sizeable minority of Canadians since getting high became popular 50 years ago.
The fact it’s been illegal just made users more secretive.
In British Columbia, pot might as well be legal now. Dozens upon dozens of “medical” marijuana dispensaries are in Vancouver, with no common definition of what medical means. If you have a headache, you can buy pot.
I’d argue Albertans still prefer alcohol over pot for recreational highs. Pot smokers here keep it quiet. Outside of certain crowds, joints aren’t passed around parties. Rarely do you smell pot, outside of Borden Park love-ins.
But many Vancouver friends treat the stuff as an aperitif before dinner. They are used to a THC level – the stuff that creates the high – that would have induced a coma back in the ’60s and ’70s.
Marijuana, being illegal, has not been quantified, measured and studied to death. Nobody really knows, but the main industry up and down the valleys of the British Columbia interior likely isn’t lumber but pot. The latest studies guess at $6 billion a year in illegal pot growing and sales across Canada. Surely most of that would happen in B.C.
And while no taxes are collected, marijuana growing and distribution money now circulates through the B.C. economy, creating employment, buying power and a monstrous distrust of the law.
Unlike B.C., there’s no grey legal area in Alberta permitting “medical” marijuana shops in the big cities. Last week, the City of Edmonton reminded residents that “marijuana or cannabis dispensaries are illegal and are not licensed or permitted.”
Legal or illegal, pot is controversial.
If you voted for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals or the New Democrats in the last federal election, you’re likely all for, or at least resigned to, the inevitability of marijuana legalization.
If you had voted for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, you’d likely prefer the laws be left the way they were. You might favour de-criminalization but keep pot illegal other than for strict medical use.
Many small-c conservatives and mostly older Canadians argue that, once legal, pot smoking will create many more indulgent, lazy, self-centred stoners – furthering weakening the Canadian work ethic.
In combination with alcohol abuse, they’ll argue, Trudeau’s legalization will further increase heartbreak in the families of pot/alcohol addicts and ultimately create more work for the police.
But small-l liberals and younger Canadians are not worried by such dire predictions. As long as the general population doesn’t smoke/drink before driving, legalizing marijuana will not, they say, end the world as we know it.
On the plus side, once legalized, researchers can truly get on with discovering the medicinal potential of marijuana. Leading researcher Raphael Mechoulam told National Geographic that marijuana is a “medical treasure trove, waiting to be discovered.”
Put aside moral arguments as to the societal good or lack thereof of legalizing pot in Canada.
It’s going to happen. Who’s going to make money out of it?
Well before legalization, marijuana-growing companies trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange, ostensibly licensed for the medical market. Alberta’s Aurora Cannabis Company is building a huge pot-growing facility in the International Airport’s industrial park. There’s economic diversification for you! And anybody can buy shares in Aurora.
Those horrified by the thought of another mood/mind-altering drug being available to all — of course teens will obtain pot, one way or another — argue the sky will fall.
It won’t, of course. Laws and regulations will come into play, particularly for controlled sales, safety in the workplace and driving under the influence.
The police will ask for bigger budgets for the extra work, addictions counsellors will be busier than ever.
Government will spend most of the new tax gain on regulatory enforcement. The black market for pot will continue.
Really, the reality for most of us will simply see more joints being smoked on the patio at your friends’ parties.
Just like B.C.!
Be careful though – the THC levels have soared since you last smoked pot!