Today is significant in Canadian counter-culture lore because recreational marijuana becomes legal today. Cannabis is now mainstream. In fact, one of the six authorized stores in my city is only a few blocks from where I live. I’m wondering whether or not to visit, but I think I’ll wait until the fuss over this opening day dies down.
Back in the day, we used to combine dried marijuana leaves with tobacco and roll them up in Rizla cigarette papers to make a joint. That was waaaay back, when I was in the UK in my late teens and early twenties, and a lot has changed since then. What my friends and I used to call a joint has been called all sorts of things including a spliff, a reefer, blunt, doobie etc., and the list of names for cannabis is even longer, and they are all said with a smile.
Something else that has changed is the strength of the weed. The THC content, the ingredient that makes you high, is much greater now than it was back in the 1960s and ‘70s. It has been somehow transmogrified through selective breeding and turned into something not normally encountered in the wild. It’s a kind of an English Bulldog of the plant world, but hopefully it has less trouble breathing.
Another difference from the days of my youth is that there are now a gazillion different products derived from the weed. There are edibles beyond the muffin, including even gummy bears, which gives the whole enterprise a nice innocent ambiance. There is also CBD oil (Cannabidiol) which has a variety of medicinal uses. I am particularly interested in this because it can help cure insomnia, which has been a burden to me for a number of years. If and when I go into my local weed shop, that’s the first thing I’m going to ask about.
Our local police have been gearing up for this day by figuring out how to test drivers for impairment, and they have concluded that the standard Field Sobriety Test will work just fine. My guess is that one whiff of the driver’s car or clothing will be their first clue.
There are also issues around smoking in public, and in my city they are making rules about where that will be permissible. I have noticed, though, even before it became legal, that there are spaces where the smell of weed lingers. I can already hear the howls of disapproval that will be voiced by non-smokers; that smell is going to matter probably more than any health issues.
Some people are concerned that there will be dangers with impaired workers on the job, and others are worried that lots of recreational marijuana users will be stopped at the border. Both of these things are likely, I suppose, but it won’t take long for the authorities to figure those things out.
It’s interesting that there was not a sudden increase in alcohol consumption immediately after Prohibition ended, and it will probably be the same with marijuana, but no one knows for sure. There will continue to be a black market for a while because the legal stuff will be more expensive; taxes and overhead costs will see to that. But, at the same time, my guess is that the fact of its legality will inspire new users who would likely not buy it illegally. Just a wild guess here, but maybe people like me who remember enjoying it once or twice in their youth. There’s a good chance there will be a lot of grey hair in those pot shops.
When I head out today to run my errands I’ll be on the lookout for elderly people at traffic stops trying to walk straight lines without smiling. You young kids better stay off the roads!