Wednesday, 4 September 2013

More ranting about politicians and pot-smoking

A headline in this morning’s Vancouver Sun reads, “Will pot-smoking admissions keep Justin Trudeau out of US?”

My first thought, of course, was, “I read the news today, oh boy, about a lucky man who made the grade.”

(Remind me that I want to say something else about the Beatles before I finish ranting.)

My second thought was, why should US officials have all the fun?  If border guards are going to start routinely asking people if they have smoked pot, then good luck to Barack Obama, an admitted pothead, the next time he tries to come to Canada.

Or Bill Clinton for that matter.

Or, in all likelihood, though we may never know for sure, George Bush.

And then I kept having these wonderfully helpful thoughts. Like, if US border guards at Blaine asked that question all the time, I bet Bellis Fair mall in Bellingham would start to look pretty empty.

And Neil Young would probably still live in Winnipeg.

In fact, the whole project of cross-border cultural exchange would start to get pretty complicated.  Is there a single music group on either side of the border that would be able to travel internationally?
Okay, and while I’m at it, apparently Prime Minister Harper says the federal government is very seriously looking at the chiefs of police proposal to ticket for possession. 

Great.  The last time the Prime Minister took legislation into the House of Commons on this subject, he made it the law of the country that the possession of six marijuana plants was an indictable offence with a 14 year prison sentence.  Less than a year later, he’s talking about ticketing for possession.  I suppose some people would say that’s progress.  I say it’s just confusion.

And it’s not just policy confusion.  It’s a much deeper ambivalence.  A large and growing number of Canadians have realized that the criminalization of marijuana is not just a policy failure, it’s completely wrong-headed.  Others are still wrestling with the war inside their head that can’t quite eliminate the perniciously false myths of reefer madness. 
The best exemplar of our as yet not quite fully complete national carthasis on this issue is the Prime Minister himself.  He cannot resist giving his political opponent self-righteous morality lectures about the use of marijuana.  And he is also, and obviously, perfectly happy to jump on a stage to sing that he gets “high with a little help from my friends”, thereby further popularizing a song written and popularized by those most-famous potheads, the Beatles.  If that isn't a deep-seated ambivalence, then I don't know what is. 

I used to think that the media obsession with asking our politicians whether they have ever smoked pot was a trivial distraction from the real issues of the day. I’ve changed my mind. Every time the question is asked, it becomes more and more apparent that the use of marijuana is not an exotic slice of our populace: it is simply us. The mayor of Toronto. The premier of Ontario. National party leaders. Mainstream Canada, in other words.

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