It's now been over two weeks since April 20, aka “4/20”. I have a particular interest in cannabis in the area of healthcare and I considered a blog post about it on April 20. I wrote up a bunch of notes about myths and misconceptions, and counterculture vs. mainstream. I mentioned “decades of damage to undo” and “changing the conversation” and my distaste for it being an excuse for stoner kids to flip off authority. There are some amazing examples of civil disobedience in history, but there's “civil disobedience” and then there's that. (As in, “being that guy”.)
There's a distinction between “stoner kids” and responsible adult use. I believe that if marijuana is made legal than after an initial period of kids going ape-shit over the stuff, they'll calm down and use it responsibly – like many kids and alcohol.
I'm also still treading lightly on the topic. I'm fascinated by the influx of dispensaries – aka “pot shops”. They're still illegal here but even though there's no legal “grey area” I feel that some are more responsible than others, which in my mind puts them more in a grey (not legal) area. I believe that those who are irresponsible ruin it for the rest and can hinder progress by perpetuating stereotypes. If you're going to break rules you need to know how and why you're breaking them and do it in a way that's as respectful and least damaging as possible. (Historical analogy: Peaceful protest vs. looting.) I'd like to be an advocate, and a responsible one.
I could have written all that in my post. Instead, I wrote notes and then moved on to other things that required my attention.
A few days later I caught an article in Mary Jane magazine called, “The Plight to End Stoner Culture and Make Cannabis Mainstream“. I clicked. The article was about Tokyo Smoke, a local (Toronto) pot shop. I visited their website and their blog. I discovered that they wrote the blog post that I was thinking: Is 4/20 Good for the Cannabis Movement?
You could take that question as rhetorical, or you can talk about. I think it makes wonderful dinner conversation – but then, I know that I'm passionate about the topic because recently I've been monopolizing conversations, excitedly bursting out some of what I've learned in my studies. Tokyo Smoke says,
They [sic] day itself may be innocent enough but is it good for the global image of marijuana?
Which is exactly what's going through my mind. I can't quote the entire article to you but I will tell you that it asks some great questions. It points out the stereotypes that are perpetuated in the media due to the aforementioned stoner kids flipping off authority. And I get it, it makes good photos and sound bites. However, are we stuck with that bias? Can public opinion change if that's the image being portrayed? Another way of phrasing Tokyo Smoke's question: Is marijuana suffering from a PR problem? (Answer: Yes.) More questions: Can this problem be solved? Can we change public opinion?
I didn't go to the 4/20 event in Toronto. On the news, I saw that some dispensaries were there. I understand that. They want to change the conversation. However, where the customers that they want there? I don't know. I do know that I appreciate that I can't walk into the pot shop on my block and get pot because I don't yet have the documentation needed to prove that I have an ailment that it might cause. I appreciate that they have never smoked me up, not even in a neighbourly way. According to Health Canada,
In order to access marijuana for medical purposes, individuals must have the support of a healthcare practitioner and have him/her complete a medical document that explains the daily amount of marijuana required. With that medical document, individuals can register with one of the licensed producers identified on the Health Canada website.
It also says,
Licensed producers must package marijuana in a child-resistant manner that allows for the client to determine whether it has been opened prior to receipt. Licensed producers are required to include a label on the container of dried marijuana that identifies the client, the licensed producer's name and contact information, and information specific to the dried marijuana shipped.
I've seen such packaging from dispensaries. Dispensaries are illegal, yes, but providing pot to an individual without a medical marijuana license is irresponsible and ruins it for the progress. According to an article I read this week on a local magazine website, at one dispensary in the city, “customers can circumvent the process and pay $200 to purchase pot before they receive a prescription.” In my opinion, that's just wrong. You may as well get your weed from a dealer. It's cheaper and just as legal. Being responsible can only help progress and help people who benefit from marijuana. I'm for legal regulations. Be part of the solution, not a scofflaw.
So, that's my 4/20 post.