Cannabis will soon be legal. A few thoughts on that.

First of all – ita��s actually goddam happening!!! Trudeau has broken many election promises. Hea��s a business-friendly centrist and not a true progressive. But this promise is on track to actually happen! In spite of the misinformation spread since the Reagan years, and the blow-hard posturing of the asinine and unwinnable decades-long War on Drugs, and the accepted belief that ita��ll never happen in Canada since ita��d piss off our biggest trading partner, etc etc. We seem to have absorbed this major shift in policy quite neatly, but leta��s keep this in mind: this is an extraordinary development.

And ita��s legalization. Not decriminalization. Not the benign tolerance thata��s been in place for middle-class white people in Vancouver for the last twenty years (marijuana smoke is a much more familiar smell in Vancouver than tobacco). This is full legalization. Almost every nation signed the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961 that prevented legalization. Then Holland decriminalized it. Portugal decriminalized it. Uruguay took the plunge and legalized it in 2014. Now wea��re legalizing it too. The doors of sanity just might be squeaking open.

Secondly – ita��s faaaaaaaaar from perfect. Ita��ll be heavily regulated. Heavily taxed. No edibles. Some of the business people behind the scenes built careers arresting growers and dealers and now stand to make a tidy profit, in an astounding display of hypocrisy. Many will boycott official outlets for this reason. Others will continue to support their local black market dealer out of loyalty, and for the edibles. But a portion of us will be buying from legal vendors. The novelty alone will be a draw, at least initially. And that hefty tax money will go into public coffers for schools, health-care, roads, environmental protection, welfare, and a bunch of government shit we dona��t like too. But still – revenue from cannabis will be part of the conversation. Weed dollars will be included in pie charts. Social and political conservatives will be presented with studies showing no increases in crime (there are more likely to be decreases) or teenage consumption (ditto). Some of them will accept these statistics and modify their views – especially those getting rich on the stuff. Fewer children will be told the same vicious untruths I absorbed in the 80s.

Thirdly, and most importantly, this should, over time, eradicate the taint of naughtiness thata��s been a part of cannabis for the lifetime of anyone reading this. Its consumption needna��t be an act of defiance. Ita��s always been possible to ingest it with personal, spiritual or creative intention. Now that intentional use wona��t automatically include an aftertaste of rebellion.

This will help us look at consciousness alteration in new ways. Intoxicants and psychotropics are most commonly used for escape. We take something so that we dona��t have to feel a certain way or think about certain things. It doesna��t have to be like that. Vancouver author Stephen Gray explores uses of cannabis for spiritual and creative practice in his book Cannabis and Spirituality: An Explorera��s Guide to an Ancient Plant Spirit Ally.

A society with a sane understanding of cannabis will be that much more open to considering the beneficial possibilities of other substances. Tom Shrodera��s book Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy and the Power to Heal explores the therapeutic use of LSD and MDMA – both of which were used in clinical settings for decades before recreational use became common. MAPS Canada recently concluded a study using MDMA-based therapy for people with PTSD. The Psychedelic Explorera��s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic and Sacred Journeys by James Fadiman, PhD describes LSD being used by scientists and artists, in clinical settings, for problem-solving purposes, with excellent results. The last ten years have seen an explosion of ayahuasca ceremonies and retreats, all of which have healing as their goal, not escape (ayahuasca is the last substance someone should take if they want to avoid their suppressed pain). Some practitioners use psilocybin mushrooms, iboga or peyote for healing. These substances arena��t effective or appropriate for all people or conditions, but they should be investigated with sanity and evidence, rather than propaganda-fuelled prejudice.

So leta��s welcome the even more common clouds of marijuana smoke. Leta��s write to our representatives to lobby for pardons for those incarcerated for growing and selling cannabis. Leta��s get them to improve the legal distribution system. Leta��s make sure ita��s known that our dollars are helping pay our countrya��s bills. Leta��s ingest with intention. Leta��s keep in mind that even though cannabis isna��t chemically addictive, it can still be used for compulsive avoidance, and thata��s a sshort-termsolution to what ails us. Wea��ll feel better if we get to the root of our suffering and treat it, and then smoke up or eat in a state of peace and equinimity, respecting the plant, using it for refreshment and growth. It can help us make valuable contributions to our society. Leta��s make that happen.

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