Longer ago than many of you were born, representatives from NORML (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws) came to the university where I was a, uh, budding student. They encouraged a small group of us to form a chapter of the organization. At the time, I didn't know anyone who wasn't in favour of reforming pot laws. I also didn't know anyone who ever thought it would happen.
And to a large extent, it didn't matter. Pot was de facto legal on campus. It wasn't, really, but you had to be blatantly indiscreet or terminally unlucky to get busted (selling to an undercover student/cop falling into both of those categories). You could get a bag of weed almost anywhere, including from the Jerry Garcia look-alike who sold ice cream treats from a peddle cart, took food stamps as payment and gave you change in real coin of the realm. The major television networks' news divisions paid $10—the price of a bag of mediocre weed—for stringers, largely political science students, to call in results from local polls on national election nights.
But organizing a doomed attempt to legalize pot was something to do, pointless as it was.
By the time this column comes out, recreational cannabis will be legal in Canada, from sea to sea to sea ... with the most Byzantine set of regulations this side of provincial liquor laws. In British Columbia, long home to some of the most-gifted pot growers in the world, we'll be able to walk into a store and stagger out with an assortment of tight, sticky buds guaranteed to help us sleep, chill out, feel less pain, fight boredom and/or forget our names and how to tie our shoes.
At least if we live in Kamloops!
Canada is, if nothing, a nation of slackers and procrastinators. Legal pot has been headed toward us for years. Every level of government has dragged its heels and thrown up roadblocks to ensuring a relatively seamless integration of retail cannabis into the buy-and-sell landscape. The government of B.C. is no exception.
The black market must be laughing its ass off.
Nevertheless, the ongoing joke of Keystone Kops legislation and people setting their hair on fire stressing about a tsunami of stoners that isn't likely to happen is offset by the warm glow of knowing people will no longer have their lives ruined by being unfortunate enough to get busted for possession of less than 30 grams, a bit over an ounce for those who are still metrically challenged.
And, I'd like to point out, there are mutually beneficial, generational upsides to legal pot.
Boomers, that most reviled of demographic groups, will have the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with the benefits of cannabis, at least those who lost the thread over their years of other, multiple self-indulgences. Let's face it, Boomers are going to need a never-ending string of hobbies as they totter off into their dotage and what better hobby than rediscovering how fascinating the totally banal can be when you've got a buzz on. Think golf is fun? Try it stoned. It becomes hilarious.
Lest you think this is a paean to all things held dear by my cohort, think again. Millennials and Gen X'ers—those of you who haven't entirely sold out and given up—this is your big chance. Why? Boomers who were dilettantes when it came to getting high are in for a real surprise, or treat, possibly both. The bags of stems and seeds we thought were pot back in the day had about as much THC as a smoothie, compared to what's available now. Boomers about to get down and get funky with their tie-dyed past are likely to be comatose for much of the rest of the year, certainly for the rest of this week. With an election this Saturday across B.C, now is you chance to finally wrest the reins of power from their age-spotted hands while they try to remember what day of the week they're currently stumbling through.
Gen Z kiddies, you can help. Nag the crap out of your parents to step away from their screens and fascination with social media and go vote. Even if they never have, they'll figure it out. It's not really any more difficult than the endless process of updating their OS.
Let's be honest here. Pretty much all the current ills of the world can be rightly laid at the feet of Boomers. Oh sure, there are individual Boomers who are more or less enlightened. But as a whole, this is the generation that has given us Donald Trump, life-threatening climate change, SUVs, gargantuan houses, obesity, supersizing, downsizing, tribalism, junk food, professional sports leagues' franchise expansions, the rise of Fascism, New Coke and genetically modified food. Hell, the only real contribution to social well-being the Boomers are responsible for is being able to wear jeans to church ... and who goes to church?
So Millennials and still-with-it Gen X'ers, now is your chance to kick us into retirement villages and screw things up for yourselves and succeeding generations that'll have to start the alphabet all over again. You've, well, earned it may be a stretch, but you've certainly earned a chance to give 'er a go.
You can begin by shocking the heck out of us and voting in the municipal election Saturday. I suspect you won't but hope springs eternal.
A funny thing happened at the first two all-candidates' meetings held over the past two weeks. On both occasions, some earnest young person screwed up the courage to step up to the microphone and ask a candidate(s) a variation of the question, "What are you going to do to get young people more involved in the community or make them feel more welcome."
Of course, none of the respondents had the nerve to say, "I don't know. What are you going to do to get your friend's involved." Because, again, let's be honest, getting involved in this town is about as simple as getting off your ass and deciding to get involved.
Don't believe me? Exhibit A: A handful of young folks got organized, involved and squeezed $850,000 out of this municipality to upgrade the skate park not too long ago.
Yet, every single open house, community forum, budget meeting, and all other avenues of political engagement that happen frequently in this town are largely a sea of grey hair, punctuated by scattered islands of people under 35.
We—and by we I mean people older than you—aren't going to hand you power like gold stars for showing up. If you don't take it you'll never have it. And you won't be able to take it if you don't vote, get involved and start getting your voices heard.