Posted on August 8, 2016 by Judith Stamps – Sixteen days to go until Health Canada announces its new plan for medical cannabis, and hopes are sinking. Mine are, anyway. Dispensary raids continue in Ontario, sending menacing vibes to Canada’s cannabis growers, the ones not sanctioned as LPs; to Canadian patients who choose dispensaries as the source of their medicines; and of course, to the dispensaries themselves. Cannabis culture is under threat.
My sense of foreboding is based on two guesses. One, that the raids in Ontario are about money; and that there are well-funded lobbies fixing for a legal fight with non-LP cannabis growers and medicine makers.
Second, the Trudeau government has no fondness for cannabis culture and will set out to weaken it however it can. Am I off base? I hope so.
The Health Minister’s Decision
If the Health Minister comes out to say: LPs, carry on; MMAR growers, carry on; municipalities, you may license dispensaries if you wish; and patients, you may grow your meds or buy them at the shop of your choice. And thank you for the service you have all provided to Canadian patients. I shall recant, humble myself, and eat my copy of the latest Cannabis Digest. If that’s not too corny a pun.
Of legal battles soon to come, I will say little. I leave that topic with confidence to the experts in the field. For nearly twenty years, they’ve brought us this close to marijuana legalization. This blog is about preserving cannabis culture.
Let’s begin by offering two definitions of culture, supplied by a dictionary search. The first one is: “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement, regarded collectively.”
And two: “the knowledge, art, morals, laws, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by people as members of society.”
Cannabis Culture Defined
By either definition, there is such a thing as cannabis culture. It is diverse and internally conflicted, as are all cultures. But it is real and worth preserving. Its contemporary expression can be seen in dispensaries, first established in the 1990s; in the concurrent invention and continuous refinement of medicines, and methods of intake; with the accompanying advances in growing techniques and cannabis strains; in the mountains of research literature on all of the above; and in the network of related associations.
These elements are infused, too, with the cannabis culture of the 1960s and 70s. They were responsible for the beginnings of a legalization movement in this country. As such, many of the values established in this period remain essential to cannabis culture today.
- The commitment to individual liberty
- Welcoming of diverse races, cultures and sexual orientations
- Rejection of war and other types of violence
- Moving away from consumerism as a way of life
- A corresponding DIY mentality
- An embrace of spiritual beliefs, in particular, of new age religions.
Today, those values include a commitment to environmental health, and the rebirth of romanticism, the love of nature that dis-establishes humans as the centre of the universe and ascribes consciousness to all living forms.
Why Canadian’s have ignored cannabis culture
Many Canadians, indeed, most Canadians, do not know that the published works on cannabis history and cultivation would fill a modest bookstore. Additionally, they’d be surprised that the authors are intelligent, hard-working, and have over seventy years formed the basis of much of the knowledge we have today.
Thanks to the collectors of patients’ stories, we have our disposal of the concept of ‘illegal healing.’ To this concept, we must now add others: illegal education, illegal awareness, illegal talent, and illegal information. That’s because Canadians have had little incentive to be thus informed for the following reasons:
- The cannabis plant’s negative legal status
- It remains illegal for bookstores to carry literature seen as promoting cannabis.
- The willful ignorance of journalists and police.
- Ill-mannered, but legally informed, media-driven rhetoric that focuses on criminality.
This rhetoric creates a clash between mainstream-Canada and ‘harmful’ Canada and divides us. But we don’t have to stay divided.