Category Archives: drugs

Burn It Down Slow: On Canadian Cannabis Legalization

Today, millions of cannabis users light up in solidarity around the world. In Canada, it is an especially interesting day, given that last week the Liberal government proposed the Cannabis Act, to de-schedule and heavily regulate cannabis in Canada. While imperfect, the bill is yet another nail pulled from the coffin in which prudes and other social conservatives had tried to bury cannabis alive.

I am 110% for cannabis legalization (that is 10% more support than I have for legalizing all psychoactive substances). I know the proposed legislation isn’t ideal, but for me, it is a sigh of relief. I am surely not alone, whether in Canada or around the world.

I Have a Name

Marijuana, as with many monikers for cannabis—weed, pot, dope, reefer, chronic, devil’s grass—and euphemisms for intoxication—stoned, baked, fried, twisted, blitzed—all carry negative implications. These names betray the demonization which the plant, and the people who have been custodians to this plant, have garnered ever since the U.S. government was threatened by highly-productive-but-high Mexican labourers in the 1930’s, and then industrialized a military to pass on their gospel.

It is a good choice to frame the newly proposed legislation as The Cannabis Act. There are so many beautiful names for the plant, and maybe something that preceded the Scythian‘s word cannabis, which Dr. Linnaeus adopted to taxonomically classify the species. To date, Canada has been particular about using marijuana. But of course, calling it marijuana would have ousted the government’s uneasy hand on the whole matter.

For 15 years, I have used cannabis recreationally, spiritually, and medicinally. Apparently, I continue the relationship people have kept with the plant for millennia. Terrence McKenna would even go so far to propose the Stoned Ape Theory, which postulated that psychedelics substances (primarily psilocybin mushrooms) were the catalysts for evolution from apes to Homo erectus.

Sometime between getting lifted for the first time in the Cradle of Civilization and now, humanity has come a long way. That relationship with the plant has become strained in many parts of the world. Within the last century (or so), a global effort has been spent criminalizing an autonomous plant, and punishing those people who get involved with the plant.

More than that, prohibition also criminalizes a state of consciousness. In the realist world view, being high is the North Korea of the mind.

(Ironically enough, North Korea has a very liberal approach to cannabis. There is absolutely nothing otherwise enviable about North Korea).

North Korea comes to Canadaupon Parliamentary and Senate approvalon or before Canada Day, 2018. The complete bill can be viewed here, but CBC has a good summary, which didn’t vary much from the leaks earlier this week.

It isn’t legalization in its idealist sense, but it is workable…although equally vague and questionable. But regulatory changes happen slowlyunless they happen bloodily, in which case, enough people have to be willing to pay that price. I don’t think that would be a sustained hurrah from cannabisseurs (cannabissoirs? cannabians??).

If I have this many questions as a 110%er, I can understand how those against this idea are ready to chant it down

and I was going to get into (700 words of) thoughtful and nuanced questions on each piece of the bill. The Cannabis Act is not ideal. It shows a profound misunderstanding of the plant, its uses, and its users. But I get to burn in my backyard without risking my job, my family, or my freedom. That is a concession I will take with caveats.

“All I want to do is get high by the beach…” – Lana Del Rey

True, there are many parts of the proposed bill that are ridiculous. The proposed driving rules are harsh and seem emotional rather than factual. There should always be caution when operating a vehicle impairedbut assholes aren’t typically pulled over for the sole reason of being assholes (a.k.a. assholiphilia), although they are likewisely impaired. (Note: If you start making up words, you probably shouldn’t drive regardless of what’s in your saliva.)

When The Cannabis Act was released, purists raised their hard heads. Larsen, the Emery’s, and other respectable voices in the Canadian cannabis community, seemed appalled by a step in the right direction. It wasn’t ‘legalization-y’ enough. Larsen laid out some decent arguments, but it became apparent that Marc Emery was just as happy to get back to watching the Maple Leafs play hockey before he (possibly) goes to prison again.

It took me a while to remember that for any ’cause’, there will have been the activists who offered themselves up as martyrs and who want a stake in the freedom fries. That’s legiteven Che got to sign the Cuban currency.

Either way, there is no light switch that any legislation can enact that will win the hearts & minds of the general populaceand the whole world, who will be watching with intent as their own reformists become encouraged by Canada’s lead. It seems naive to hope that a flick of some bureaucratic pens will suddenly erase decades of psychological warfare. It will take sustained, destigmatized experience to exhibit cannabis users’ general responsibility. Popular opinion will eventually come to commonly understand the fear & loathing was exaggerated.

A Lame, But Revealing, Ending

All these herbalists and not a one remembers how A Clockwork Orange ends. Sure, an external force was able to soften Alex’s behaviour, but once they returned Alex to his regular state, it took a good dose of banality and a chance meeting with an evolved friend for Alex to realize he could—and would—change. The moral I am trying to draw? Self-transformation is the most powerful transformation. Let’s not make the same mistake every doe-eyed teenager makes—no forced, external revolution will ever change the world.

Cannabis has to prove itself in public view. People have to understand that for every loser (who arguably would be a loser regardless), there is a doctor, a lawyer, and a candlestick maker who smoke up, up, and away. That will not happen while the plant remains illegal.

The underground has not done cannabis justicethose who understand it and advocate it overstand, but it is still difficult to convince your family at Thanksgiving dinner that your daily joint doesn’t make you a scandalous fiend.

Anything besides prohibition gets the conversation started. Issues and benefits have the opportunity to become illuminated. So far, the government’s “educational” approach has included web advertisements that direct you to Health Canada’s cannabis page, or Reefer Madness 2: Selective Science Madness. Some of the acute risks of cannabis include stroke and heart attack. No mention of pre-existing condition or other substances that were consumed, because, of course, as Dr. Kellie Leitch knows and will fight for: marihuana is a dangherous drhug.

I think at this point in our history, it is clear that the “War on Drugs” has failed. Starting from failure, it is hard to do wrong. Like the free-climber who falls to break eighty bones in their body, success cannot be measured by reaching a treacherous summit—success can be making it up one single stair. We’re on that first step. Let’s not let our egos handicap us. Let’s not crumple on the floor like we will never get to the mountaintop again.

I have a method to get to a mountaintop. It starts in an unfertilized flower bud and ends with smoky curlicues. That’s what’s important here. The devil may be in the legislation’s details, but as any cannabis user knows, the devil is currently around every goddamn corner, just waiting for enough evidence to pull you into its bowels. Between the two, I think we stand a better chance parsing through grey regulations than facing black-and-white zero-tolerance.

As Dr. Dre proselytizes: “We roll shit that burn slow as fucking molasses/probably won’t pass it, smoke until the last hit.” The value of a smooth, slow burn is known to any cannabissarian. It’s a sentiment that can be translated to anyone pursuing legalization. All the ugliness that has suppressed cannabis will burn away—responsible users will help burn it down—but it will burn down slowly…

…slower than a fat blunt of fresh Trainwreck buds.

Now light up the fatty, jump in my Caddy, pull your seat back—yup, I know you need that…” – Snoop Doggy Dogg

⇐ BOM BOM MAHADEV ⇒

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Slipstreaming into the Spin: Tune Out, Turn Off, Drop In

It is a shame of our modern Western society that films and television have made such an impression. As a social species, we have probably always been prone to imitation and influence from observing behavior that may or may not be genuine. It’s just that now, there has to be a base assumption that behavior is probably not genuine—that is: not natural, a put on, an act, a vanity for the sake of portraying one’s self as something they may or may not be.

There is one item in particular that I am perturbed by…and maybe not perturbed as much as intrigued. It is the impression—or illusion—that life is exciting. Here, the term excitement is used in the way most teenagers use it: that something is happening, that we are part of something bigger, that we are doing something important and consequential and unique. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, reality TV, and scripted film all portray this, and usually layer on the traditional literary story arc: introduction, climax, and denouement, all in a neat package that is shared with any number of strangers and acquaintances.

Basically, most people on the Internet and certainly on TV want to portray their lives (fictional or not) as something wholly unreal, something so fab and wild that it somehow justifies their existence on the Earth. I’ve mused before that modern youth are appealed by the ‘I share, therefore I am’ philosophy…but I realize now it is rooted in a much more dark desire for meaning—meaning afforded by being exciting.

Excitantis vivere vita, vita mea. Qui blandit vita communi, ergo sum.
(‘I live an exciting life, therefore I live. I share that exciting life, therefore I am.’)

There are two options based on personal experience that I encounter in response to the above: 1) Either I am an anomaly and live my life without daily (non-orgasmic) climaxes or with very little drama to substantiate ironic/sarcastic/serious vitriol; or, 2) Everyone is full of shit.

I don’t think that I should fool myself into thinking my experience is universal. That’s for comedians and politicians. But really, getting a bagel with a few poppy seeds in the sesame seeds isn’t worth a post to all your friends/followers, and the truth probably is that that freewheeling road trip you keep posting photos of took place 3 years ago and you haven’t left your city since then.

Apart from that—because some people do enjoy enriching experiences on a regular basis—have we become so desperate for meaning that we revert again to the weird (and made up) Latin phrase above to determine whether our experience is real and fulfilling?

Or is the question evolutionary: are we at such a point beyond simple sexual selection that we equate what we portray with our ecological fitness? Is Facebook a proxy for our pheromones?

Back to the former Q: I had a good, cosmic laugh at the absurdity of my cellphone while on a healthy dose of psilocybin this weekend (~13 g of Psilocybe ‘truffles’ in an acid-tea extraction—I was going to include a recipe, but there are so many good ones out there already). As colours shifted, and everything vibrated and swelled with its primordial energy, and stable things started to swirl and transform, and phosphenes ignited myriad scenes behind closed eyes, and I slipped into the music spinning on my turntable, spinning with it and becoming a part of it, just as every molecule vibrates and lends itself to the totality we know as the empirical universe—as all of this was happening, one of many thoughts made me realize just how absurd it would be to try to capture my very personal visions. And even if I could, what the fuck would it matter to you?

Timothy Leary gave his LSD-influenced mantra in a vastly different time than ours, even if it was only ~50 years ago. When he said, “Tune in, turn on, drop out” it was meant to rattle normal society. But now it has become normal society. We tune in to false lives of TV and the internet, we turn on electronic devices that rule our attention, and we drop out of the ‘real’ world that dominated our consciousness since cells responded to their environment.

So I offer a not-so-original twist on Leary’s cliché that, for me at least, makes a lot more sense in our current context: “Tune out, turn off, drop in.” Tune out the manufactured/posed lives people try to portray, turn off our electronics (or cultivate the will power to), and drop in (I’ll leave this to your own interpretation).

Quite frankly, I am tired of posting shit on Twitter and Instagram. I hate having to boil down my experience to a box of pixels or to 140 characters. Social media is a tireless game. And I am reconsidering how much energy I want to afford to it.

It was a game I was very reluctant to play. I only gave it a go in 2012, with bright intentions of stepping into a ‘community’ as a writer. But none of it has helped my writing, however much it has helped my exposure (which in itself is questionable).

But don’t get excited. There’s no climax here. No big dramatic pronouncement of Twittercide. Because life just doesn’t work like that for me. It just keeps mushrooming—into different forms, different modes—but it continues with no denouement, no perfect finish, no finality, no