Dig if you will this picture: 5 cops in Halifax trying (note I say trying) to grow a little Cannabis Sativa. Yes, that’s right; ganja, pot, dagga, marijuana, weed, ma, Mary Jane. By whatever name you know it, they’re trying to grow it (again, trying).
They started with 40 plants and successfully nurtured 9 to adulthood. Apparently the typical farts and squeaks of your average squad room bore a weed to death so the boys in blue have requisitioned a radio for their little scheme hoping muzak and 20 minute news and weather updates will give the surviving 9 plants the will to live. Officer Friendly and crew are looking to gain unique access to the inner workings of that all-elusive criminal mind through this horticultural experiment – what kind of a human would grow this and how? Zen and the art of narcotics confiscation – without the Zen of course.
Why Halifax? Well, hold onto your bong, but the-little-weed-that-could has become Nova Scotia’s biggest cash crop. And the powers-that-be suspect this is true in a few other provinces that make up this vast dominion. With 50,000 growers in B.C. alone, Canada has become a major exporter of pot. And it is good pot, or so the cops say (you ask them how they know). Yesterday’s Jamaican Gold, Mexican Red, and sticks from Thailand have been replaced with today’s B.C. Kush and Ontario Hydro. Can we talk nuclear? With Delta 9 terrahydro cannibol (THC) levels at 18% vs. the 5% of yesteryear’s homegrown, this mostly hydroponically-grown pot represents a burgeoning growth industry estimated at 7 or 8 billion shiny loonies a year.
It costs $3/pound to produce and fetches $3,000/pound once harvested. Better return than any “do ya want fries with that” job and you don’t have to wear the funny hat. And you don’t have to pay taxes. Once that pound crosses the border southward it doubles in price. That explains why most B.C. pot is exported to Washington, Oregon and California (where proposition 215 was recently passed making it legal to supply or possess marijuana for medicinal purposes). Ontario’s cash crop makes its way to New York and other eastern states. Quality Canadian product produced by local, independent growers mellowing-out Americans. Is that your chest swelling with pride or are you just happy to see me?
A brief history of pot: originating in Central Asia, this hardy weed thrives in any climate and spreads like thistle. It is known most commonly by the Mexican colloquialism: marijuana (alternately spelled with an “h” instead of a “j”). An annual, it follows vegetative and prevegetative stages which are easily manipulated by controlling its light source. Did someone say hydroponics? Talk about revolutionizing an industry! Grown indoors with no soil, in nutrient rich water under high intensity light, a hydroponic plot will yield 3 to 4 harvests a year vs. 1 from its dirt-based, outdoorsy cousin. Dirt-based product has more shake (leaves and stems) as the non-hydro plant must expend lots of energy building an intricate root system to sustain itself, thus distracting it from flower and bud production. Reminder to city dwellers; dirt takes up a lot of room.
High tech, efficient hydroponic equipment is easily available and transforms basements, attics and even closets into excellent grow sites. Some enterprising growers have rented storefronts or apartments and converted them into lucrative hydroponic plots. Imaginative home designs include moveable walls behind which hydroponic plants secretly bask. Word to the wise: abnormally high hydro bills attract the kind of attention you don’t want. So does fire. Badly vented crops can and do erupt in flames (hot + dry = poof). One more thing, today’s nosy neighbor is tomorrow’s witness for the prosecution.
Everything you every wanted to know about Canada’s pot laws, but were too afraid of doing hard time to ask: as anyone over 30 knows, possession of pot is still a criminal offence in Canada. Know what they say about dropping the soap in the shower? Don’t bend over. Remember Ronald and Nancy Reagan? Too bad he doesn’t. Ronald Reagan is so riddled with Altzheimers he doesn’t remember which end to pee out of yet this man is responsible for the dramatic and fatal redrafting of drug policy and policing known as the War on Drugs. This aggressive (failed) attack on marijuana smokers, (historical note: the War on Drugs was specifically meant to target marijuana), has given rise to overcrowded decaying U.S. prisons filled with drug offenders who do long, mandatory minimum sentences while violent offenders are allowed reduced sentences even after multiple arrests and imprisonment. Average jail term for U.S. violent offender, 44 months; for nonviolent drug offence, 50 months (even for a first-timer).
Meanwhile, north of the 49th, most drug enforcement agencies across Canada, including the Canadian Police Association, Canadian Bar Association, The House of Commons and the Senate Legal Commission (as well as the 1977 LeDain Commission), recommend that simple possession (under 30 grams of hashish or pot) be reduced to a ticketable offence with no criminal record for the accused (that’s you). Bill C-7 passed by the House of Commons in October 1995, but still before Senate, would do just that. Bill C-8 has opened the way for medical research into marijuana and Canadian farmers can now grow hemp legally for the first time since 1938. A recent court case in London, Ontario saw elderly, conservative judge McCart, a respected member of the establishment, where he said he was convinced by the evidence that marijuana consumption poses fewer health risks to the individual and society than tobacco or alcohol and that it is not a gateway drug leading harder drug use. A recent Angus Reid poll found that 85% of Canadians supported decriminalization of marijuana and hash. So what are we waiting for?
- A politician willing to take up the cause (including confrontations with the synthetic fibre producing petrochemical lobbyists and booze peddlers).
- Another politician smart enough to work out taxation and control.
- Both of them falling in with the right spin-doctors. Spin-doctors, like shit-houses, take anything that drops their way but willing and smart politicians are an endangered lot.
Like those laid-back Vancouver cops say, the only way to change the law is to flaunt it. So do as Yo Yo says, “take a hit, hold your breath, pass the joint to the left, take a hit and hold your breath.”