Cannabis cheerleaders must be high on something

In early May, the Financial Post exhaled the following front page headline: “Data shows shift in cannabis culture”. According to StatsCan, the number of people buying cannabis illegally has declined by 13 percent in the past year. Now almost half of Canadian users purchase weed legally, up from 23 percent in 2018.  About 18 percent of Canadians over the age of 15 used cannabis in the three month leading up to the publication of this story.

One point about those stats: The first two examples are a little sketchy. Who knew the starting statistics with any accuracy? Before legalization, if you were involved in the marijuana black market, you’d have to have been, like, pretty baked to go spilling those beans to some government dude.

Second point: From the attention that cannabis has received you might conclude that, I dunno, 90 percent of the population is smoking up. Yet given how little has changed in St. Thomas since last October, 18 percent seems about right. Let’s stop giving it 100 percent attention. (More on excessive enthusiasm later).

Third point: Much as I support the legalization of marijuana, and I’m all for it, I’ve had about enough of media from CBC to the National Post to bloggers galore to ordinary people on Facebook treating cannabis like a miracle cure-all.

Why am I so cranked on this topic?

During my first weekly newspaper venture in the mid-1970s, we did all-night layout every Sunday night, drove the flats to the printers on Monday morning, brought back printed copies on Monday afternoon, and delivered them Tuesday. An unwise schedule, but we couldn’t break the pattern, in part because half of the partners in this venture would declare about 2 a.m. every Monday morning that they needed to smoke a joint if they were going to make it through the night. There’s an old joke that covers what happened next. How do you hide pot from a hippie? Put it in his work boots.

Much later in life, I arranged an interventionist-type moment with a friend. I told him I thought alcohol was taking over his life. Things unfolded predictably from there. His drinking endured, and our friendship eroded.

Fast-forward about five years. The night he passed out at the wheel, two fortunate things happened. He didn’t maim or kill himself or anybody else. And he got clean and sober. Later, he confessed I had been about one-third right. Cannabis had been a bigger driver than alcohol in his pursuit of obliteration.

Let’s all agree that reefer madness and criminalization didn’t work. Okay, okay, and Mary Jane is less destructive than the nectar of the gods. Cannabis should be legal. Now it is.

But enough of the cheerleading, Cheech. Bogart that song, Chong. You want to get stupid. I don’t care. But please, please, please, pretty please with a little hemp on top, stop pretending there are no consequences.