Reflections on cannabis legalization

Marijuana leaves (Shutterstock)

I was listening to a cannabis entrepreneur on the radio talking about his company’s THC-infused non-alcoholic products and their degree of intoxication the other day, when it suddenly hit me what a paradigm shift (I hate that term, but it fits here) Canadian society has experienced in regard to marijuana harvesting, sales and distribution, and consumption.

Almost overnight, the cannabis sector has become a legal multi-million dollar industry set to kick into operation throughout the land on Wednesday, October 17. Some provinces will have retail outlets – private or government-run – open for business, while others will sell cannabis online.

What’s more overwhelming is how many former “straights” like former Toronto and London police chief and former federal Cabinet minister, Julian Fantino, who have taken entrepreneurial leadership roles in the sector. This is the same guy who once compared legalizing weed to legalizing murder. WTF? I guess money trumps everything.

Fantino, a longtime opponent of marijuana legalization, told the Toronto Sun in 2004 that legalization would not cut down on crime, adding: “I guess we can legalize murder too and then we won’t have a murder case. We can’t go that way.”

As someone who came of age in the 1960s when pot was very much a demonized illegal substance –  see movies like The Devil’s Weed and Reefer Madness – and usually only consumed by so-called fringe groups like hippies, artists and musicians (famous and otherwise), this change in attitudes in not only welcome but mind-boggling and a reminder of how old I am.

The movie Reefer Madness, released in the 1930s, continued to influence attitudes to cannabis well into the 1950s and 1960s.

Indeed, I remember two infamous London narcs – Dave Tennant, who is now a big wheel in real estate development, and Brian Garroway – chasing teenagers around town and busting them for nickel and dime bags. Those were the days!

To be quite honest, I never thought I would live to see the day when it would be legalized.

Be here we are.

Let the great social experiment begin!

[To see how far attitudes have changed, check out this Link for the full length movie Reefer Madness released in 1936

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