Roxanne Tellier: Don’t Bogart That Joint, My Friend

Roxanne DBAWISEvery generation believes they are the first to discover sex and drugs. (Rock ‘n Roll got added in the fifties.) Certainly the sixties were ‘high times’ – it was pretty rare for most of us not to have at least tried a puff or two. I’ve never been much of a pot smoker; just never got the same buzz as others did. But I’ve never really thought that weed or hash was a big deal, especially for adults. One man’s scotch is another man’s joint, to me.

national-pot-smoking-dayCannabis was criminalized in various countries, including the U.S., as early as 1906. Canada didn’t even wait for any reports of Canadian drug use before criminalizing cannabis in the Opium and Drug Act of 1923. But the stuff has been around forever. As early as the third millennium B.C., records show the herb has been used medicinally, as part of religious or spiritual rites, or just for a good time.

daliweedArtistes of all stripes have enjoyed various drugs in search of inspiration. Heck, researchers even dug up some old pipes containing traces of pot from Shakespeare’s stately garden in Stratford-upon-Avon. Literature, music, and art have all been created under the influence.

Those who study the history of cannabis link the criminalization and contempt for it’s users to big business of the 30’s. As the story goes, “In the United States in 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act was passed, and prohibited the production of hemp in addition to cannabis. The reasons that hemp was also included in this law are disputed—several scholars have claimed that the Act was passed in order to destroy the US hemp industry, with the primary involvement of businessmen Andrew Mellon, Randolph Hearst, and the Du Pont family. With the invention of the decorticator, hemp became a very cheap substitute for the paper pulp that was used in the newspaper industry and Hearst consequently believed that his extensive timber holdings were at threat. Mellon, Secretary of the (U.S.) Treasury, and the wealthiest man in America at that time, had invested heavily in DuPont’s new synthetic fiber, nylon, and believed that the replacement of the traditional resource, hemp, was integral to the new product’s success.” (Wikipedia)

Richard-FlohilIn the sixties, Canada took another look at the widespread use of pot smoking. Here’s a wonderful video from 1969, where CBC’s Barbara Frum interviewed guests, including writer/PR guru Richard Flohil, about the pros and cons of pot. Notice that all three guests – including a doctor – are smoking cigarettes. The takeaway seemed to be that, just as Trudeau had opted to keep the government out of the nation’s bedrooms and sex lives, it was time to also “keep them out of our lungs”

Flash forward to August 2013, and another Trudeau enters the fray. Justin Trudeau admitted to not only having smoked pot in the past, but to having sparked a joint at a private dinner party, since becoming an MP. A controversial move, certainly, for the man whom many believe will become Prime Minister in the not so distant future.

But was Trudeau simply trying to drum up a controversy in hopes of grabbing a hipper, younger demographic? His late brother, Michel Trudeau, who died in an avalanche in 1998, was facing a charge of marijuana possession at the time of his death. And Justin Trudeau’s thoughts on the uses and abuses of marijuana have certainly been well documented.

Justin-TrudeauAs a rookie MP, he voted in favour of tougher marijuana possession penalties in 2009, and in a 2010 Macleans interview, he said that decriminalization is a step in the wrong direction. As late as January 2012, he interviewed that he understood that pot was not as dangerous as other legal products like alcohol and tobacco, but expressed concern that marijuana “disconnects” the user from the world.

In November of 2012, however, he told a group of Charlottetown high school students that he is a huge supporter of marijuana decriminalization. In July 2013, Trudeau told a crowd in BC that he is not in favour of decriminalization, but rather for legalization, so that the product can be taxed and regulated. What a difference a year makes! (Justin-Trudeau)

So, what’s next for smokers and tokers? Well, don’t expect the Canadian government to loosen things up any time soon – and likely not until the U.S. relaxes their own regulations. The biggest issue has always been the potential effect on trade between our two countries. The last thing the States wants is to have to deal with happy, relaxed Canadians busting the border!

Here’s some breaking news from Global TV:

“So what does (a tightening of U.S. border patrol on marijuana use) mean for Canadians politicians including Toronto Mayor Rob Ford,  Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne,  Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter and others (like Justin Trudeau)  — who spoke (very) openly about having smoked dope at one time or another?

Toronto-based immigration lawyer Henry Chang said it is possible to be banned from entering the U.S. for simply admitting to an offence. “Which is probably what happened in [this] case,” he said.

He said it happens “frequently enough that I can say it’s not an isolated situation.”

Chang said it’s entirely possible Trudeau and the other politicians who spoke publicly about pot use could run into issues crossing the border.”

legalizeitHoo boy! Good luck hitting the Black Friday sales this year, you hippies!

Whatever happens, legalizing pot will never eliminate a black market. Taxing cigarettes to the hilt only stimulated an underground economy. The public wants, but it can always afford, it’s vices.

Yet I’m sure there are bureaucrats drooling over the possibility of taxing pot. Think of the stimulus to the country if marijuana crops were suddenly seeded across Canada, and taxed like alcohol and tobacco. And jobs! Surely even some old hippies would come out of retirement to work in the fields!

My only worry would be that big business would put more and more horrible things in commercial weed, like they do to cigarettes, to not only keep us addicted, but kill us with preservatives and poisons. That’s how big tobacco makes the big money. Still – one step at a time …

And now, some musical history for your reading and smoking pleasure.

Cab Calloway “Reefer Man” (1932)

Fats Waller “The Reefer Song” (1943)

Ray Charles: Let’s Go Get Stoned

Bob Dylan: Tainy Day Women No. 12 & 35

Fraternity of Man: “Don’t Bogart That Joint (1968)

The Steve Miller Band: The Joker (1973)

Peter Tosh: Legalize It (1976)

Jesse Winchester: Twigs and Seeds (1977)

The Mighty Diamonds: Pass the Kutchie

Rita Marley: One Draw

C+C Music Factory: Take a Toke

AfroMan: Because I Got High

Kid Cudi: Marijuana

Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dog, and Bruno Mars: Young Wild and Free

= RT =

Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

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DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. After years of doing things she didn’t want to do, she’s found herself working with a bunch of crazy people who are as batshit crazy and devoted to music as she is, and so she can be found every Monday at Cherry Cola’s, completely unable to think of anything funny to say, as the co-host of Bob Segarini’s The Bobcast. Come and mock her. She’s good with that. And she laughs. A lot. But not at you.

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