Turns out, in typical fashion and a testament to the integrity of Gerald Ledain, commissioners Heinz Lehmann and Peter Stein voted for outright legalization. The lone female commissioner, Marie-Andree Bertrand, recommended gov’t control cannabis like it does alcohol.
In any case, to my 15-year-old brain, it was vindication. Furthermore, I expected, as did most of my friends, that legalization was imminent. The idea of respecting laws against cannabis given the learned panel’s findings seemed ludicrous and unlikely.
I first bought a nickel of brown Lebanese from the guys who hung around in front of the Heron Park store on Heron Road. Bill Mason ran it then and he tolerated up to 30 punks loitering in front of his corner store cum restaurant.
With newspaper money on top of lawn cutting cash, I was rolling in it for a kid of just twelve. And so, probably with Cathy Seward or one of the other gals from my neighbourhood (I don’t remember) I cut tiny pieces of hashish and droPped the chunk on a cigarette, inhaling whatever wafted towards my nose and mouth.
I’d had permission to smoke cigarettes since I was eleven. My two older brothers and I were ratted out by one of our friend’s mom from up the street. She made sure to march right down into my living room and confront us with my parent’s cooperation.
Most of the heat was on my eldest brother. He was the leader of the brotherly trio at the top half of our family of nine. I missed most of his cross-examination, as well as the accusations against next eldest brother, and the subsequent adult interlocution that came about from this information.
All I remember is coming into the living room to see what the fuss was about and there she was in her splendor, Mrs. Gravelle, making sure my parents knew I was in on the outlaw’ing. “Chris was supposedly smoking too,” she said to my folks while eyeing me with one brow cocked. For a woman of good looks, this made her particularly ugly and my impression of her remains so to this day.
Of course, by age twelve, in a family like mine, I knew it was best to deny everything to the end no matter the consequences. I’m not sure how it was the wicked woman from up the street finally left, but by the time I met up with my two brothers downstairs, we were in full crisis mitigation.
I think one said they found some in his underwear drawer, but the main stash—the carton—was still up high in a tree over past Brookfield Gardens, the next neighbourhood beside us, and a ten-minute walk.
So, it was to my surprise a verdict was handed down later. The court (my father) had reserved judgment. Knowing my father better now, I know full well he rendered his surprisingly merciful answer in protest at Mrs. Gravelle’s snooty self-righteousness. As a diplomat, he would have listened and agreed, recognized her virtue as a front for cruelty, and hustled her out the door.
Then he gave my brothers permission to smoke, saying, he was allowed a pipe-full of tobacco per week at our age so that was our allotment. My mother was the one who told me the news. I implored her to be included in the decree. She ushered me in front of my father and prompted my request for permission. And I got it. I finagled the equivalency principle, one pipe full of tobacco OR one package of cigarettes bought with my own money. He’d never be able to monitor it.
I was headed to grade seven in September with permission. I’d arrive at school with a pack of Export A’s in my t-shirt sleeve. Later, I switched to DuMaurier because they were milder and the girls like them better.
The reason I mention this is because this made me a cool kid, sort of. And so, I was invited to do all the bad things first. And a year later, one of those things was trying out this dope smoking thing. And that’s pretty much how I smoked it: pin tokes, hot knives, or a pipe. It wasn’t until I was around 17 that an older guy, Doug, patiently taught me how to roll a joint properly. Of course, I got good at that too.
I smoked it pretty much every day for over forty years. When I dealt hash a few years later, I’d smoke it during the day. All through my gangster years smoking hash was normal, perhaps like smoking cigarettes was for someone else.
I gave up cigarettes at about age eighteen or so and started again in my late twenties for a few years before quitting again. For decades though, I drop a curtain down on my day each night with a joint.
I’d lived through heroin and cocaine addiction. I’d pulled myself off the streets and returned to school. I quit for a couple of years then but eventually drifted back into smoking at the end of the day. It was my nightcap like others might enjoy a glass of wine.
It was my first son who provided me with the epiphany I needed to get off the streets and stay out of prison. And it was my second son who helped me solve the riddle of addiction.
When not much is happening in life, times when things are on auto-pilot, you can smoke every day with not much consequence. But let the shit hit the fan a bit and that’s where the rubber hits the road on personal mettle. Those are times when your balls are needed, no ifs, ands or buts. When a man is called upon to serve his family, being stoned cannot be an excuse.
It’s then I started to notice more carefully my symptoms. I began to decipher the actual physiological effects and scrutinized the consequences throughout the whole chain of my being. I can explain these another day.
I had a boy in Sick Kids, a missus staying at Ronald McDonald House, a three-year-old daughter to look after, and a business to run. It’s how I saw the limitations of my drug use. It was only then I realized it was costing me a decent percentage of my focus and power as a man.
Beginning to come out of my fog, I saw I’d been living a compromised life for a long time. Fucking decades. I’d been incrementally getting better but at no where near the rate I could operate at, not by a far margin.
I’d been going sideways for most of my life because LeDain and the rest of them said it should be fine. It wasn’t.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s mostly none of the gov’t’s business what we do with plants we grow. I remember an old Indian guy (from India) who grew a few poppies in his backyard. From these, he’d make a little opium and use it in a tea to help his aches and pains. His arrest made the papers. Gave him time if I remember correctly. I’m against that. I think it’s overreach and a tyranny worth resisting.
It’s just today it’s legal in Canada, forty-six years after we said it should be, and now we’ll have to learn what I learned. Because, I smoked it most of my life and I know intimately where it takes us.
My concern is this: we’re about to see a collective drop in confidence all over the land. More guys going sideways. More kids, more adults, more women and men with a bad case of the tomorrows. Later, they’ll say. Smoke another one.
Because smoking dope kills confidence. It does this because it puts the body into a fear state. And it’s the body where feelings reside. You cannot be afraid on any level and be confident. Mutually exclusive things they are. One or the other, not both.
Confidence is the stuff that takes thoughts and turns them into actions. Kind of important. In fact, critical.
So, I’m glad it’s finally legalized. But rather than reading exclusively about the latest cannabis stock bonanza, or the latest merger, or the news of another billion dollars being invested, I’d like to see some balance. Where’s the other side?
Tonight, I read in the National Post about the issue of excise stamps, which must go on every package of cannabis shipped, and how difficult it is these are provided with numbers but no glue on the actual stamps, so the pot manufacturer can more easily affix them to their products. Like, fuck off eh? Doesn’t anyone else realize the insanity of devoting newspaper space to this trivial bullshit?
Where is the comparisons to jurisdictions where it is legal? What’s the effect on addiction rates, homelessness, accidents, teenage use, etc. etc. I see news about investment and some news about how the cops are being paid off with new duties, chipping away at liberty with greater powers out on the road.
The executive branch and the judicial branch serving big business. That’s what I see. I think it’s shameful and I don’t have a good feeling about this. I’m not against it but this is a steamroller. No one is getting in the way, no one.
In the 90s, feeling burned out myself, I learned to grow pot. In no time, I had a bunch of places on the go and learned to make great hashish from my raw product. In fact, I’d make what I called BC Camo, which one French chick would call, “le hash qui assome,” i.e. knockout hash. I still have my screens and hash press.
A couple of years ago, missus said she like to smoke the odd bit with her sister. So, I grew her a couple of plants. She hasn’t smoked any. I keep giving it away since I don’t smoke it either.
Two weeks ago, I made some hash for a friend. I tried to smoke some and it’s just too fucking killer. Can’t do it. So, I have this big ball of hash lying around for when guest stay over. That’s how it was back in the day, back when I first used hashish socially while living on my own.
If you came to my house in the 70s, often in the 80s or parts of the 90s as well, as you left I’d press a piece of the good shit into your hand so you could smoke it later. There was a nice ritual about it. It was a small act of kindness, or of largesse and pride. I suppose I’d do it again if you come to visit.
But what I’d like to see is a rational discussion of some of the other parts of the cannabis story. I knew a kid named Mikey who got so paranoid from drugs, mainly cannabis, that he got early onset schizophrenia or something. He jumped out a seventh-floor window.
I hear enough about how it cures everything from the common cold to cancer. Or that CBD oil is the best sleep aid made. What the fuck is wrong with sleeping without any aids? Nature didn’t make it so you needed a cannabis derivative to get to sleep. You know I have an insomnia course right?
In any case, it’s the life gone sideways I am concerned about. It’s the confidence we lose from daily dope-smoking that’s risky. There’s plenty of weakness already in the world. There’s lots of things that can turn a man into a docile lamb, so he hangs up his balls and acquiesces to the vagaries of life.
Meek and mild is just the way the powers that be like to keep the population. Go visit an old-age home and watch the zombies there. Visit a grade school and the boys are on Ritalin. How many of us can see our doctor and not leave with a script? Now they have legalized low confidence and indecision for everyone. Nice.
If ever there was a time to buck the trend, to not follow the crowd, this might be it. Confidence is your juice, don’t compromise it for anything.
Don’t let this one get you.
©2018, ckwallace at ckwallace.com