Make Whistler B.C.'s natural high 

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Well, they might still not smoke marijuana in Muskogee—and even Merle Haggard eventually apologized for that song—but if not, it must be about the last place on earth to catch on, a sentiment not infrequently expressed about much of Oklahoma. The Killer Weed is enjoying a high, so to speak, a renaissance of reefer, a bounty of bud. Roll another one ... just like the other one.

The war on drugs is over—drugs won. Consider the evidence.

As Canadians, we just celebrated our last national holiday under pot prohibition. Come next year, B.C. Bud—tall, skinny fellow that he is—may well lead the Canada Day parade. Expect even more weaving than usual as he makes his way down the Village Stroll, passing out lollies and other edibles to the enthralled throngs, at least those over whatever the legal age for consumption may be ... as though that's going to matter.

Even south of the border, in the Untied States, more and more states are raising a middle finger to federal law and legalizing pot within their borders. Legalization has been a boon to state finances, chilled out some of the more violent residents and left others with measurably less stress about Donald Whatshisname's propensity to flush the country down the toilet and take the rest of the world with him.

And while parts of the Canadian senate and provincial legislatures continue to knot their knickers over regulation, who gets to control the monopoly and such niceties as the impact of legal pot on workplace ethics and upcoming elections, this is all just a smokescreen. The simple fact is there are a lot of people in powerful positions who really chafe at the thought of other people having fun. Especially people who aren't wealthy, powerful, white and privileged. Awww ... here, have a brownie.

Unlike virtually everything else in Canada that's dominated by the binary black holes of Ontario and Quebec, legal pot is B.C.'s best opportunity to be the epicentre of something other than old-growth logging. Vancouver is proclaimed the best city in the world for stoners by the venerable, if completely silly, High Times magazine. I'd love to write for High Times. I figure it'd be like owning a bond—write one column, run it every month for an audience who has no short-term memory whatsoever, get paid over and over again and see how long it takes for anyone to figure it out.

But I digress.

B.C., and more to the point Whistler, has the only Olympian who ever won a gold medal and had it taken away, albeit momentarily, for testing positive for pot. Our own Ross Rebagliati came home golden after the International Olympic Committee—and this is a multiple choice question—(a) bought his story about second-hand smoke; (b) discovered there really weren't any Olympic rules naming cannabis a banned substance; (c) realized cannabis could only be considered a performance-enhancing drug if channel surfing was an Olympic sport; or (d) all of the above. Who cares what the right answer is?

Taken together, this can only mean one thing. Whistler needs to get its act together if we're going to cash in on pot tourism and knock Vancouver off the No. 1 spot. For a teeny resort municipality with a population barely a third of Muskogee's, Whistler has, or is developing, a strategy for just about everything. We've got a transportation strategy, an environmental strategy, a sustainability strategy, a liquor strategy, a stripper strategy, an affordable housing strategy, a vision, a visitation, well, you get the idea.

What we don't have, and what we so desperately need, is a cannabis strategy. Not a how-to-manage-it strategy but a how-to-cash-in-on-it one. The time is now. We can either be cutting edge or cut out. I mean, it's a travesty if we let Vancouver claim to be the best place in the world for potheads.

Whistler is definitely a better place to get high than Vancouver for at least 10 reasons.

1. Whistler is already higher than Vancouver. With our edge in altitude and our thinner air, you're already halfway there when you light up.

2. Speaking of air, the air in Whistler is still reasonably pure, ergo, your lungs operate more efficiently than they do in Vancouver. Hell, after a couple of hours in Whistler, you can just feel those cannabinoids rushing into your bloodstream through clean lungs.

3. There are very few roads in Whistler and many walking trails. I get lost in Vancouver without getting high. Here? Park & Wander.

4. The corollary of fewer roads is fewer cops. Need I say more?

There aren't nearly as many affordable restaurants in Whistler and a limited choice of f5. ast-food joints. Too much choice is only confusing and potentially debilitating when the munchies take over what little reasoning power you have left.

6. English Bay notwithstanding, the view from anywhere in Whistler is a lot easier on the eyes than the view from anywhere in Vancouver.

7. There is a delicious irony to getting high while riding a chairlift or gondola. Double your pleasure.

8. If skiing and boarding weren't better high, the gondola cars wouldn't all smell like somebody just held a smoke-in in them.

9. The chances are good that anyone you run into in Whistler will understand exactly what you're talking about, no matter how little sense you're making.

10. Ross was right. You can still get high here just by breathing the air here.

A bold initiative is needed to stake our claim, and I think I know exactly what it should be. What are our strengths? Fresh air, good environment, lots of outdoor recreation, beautiful setting, great restaurants, socialized medicine, B.C. bud.

The answer is obvious. A sanitarium. A spa-like operation catering to those in need of medicinal or recreational marijuana in an upscale setting. It would draw well-heeled potheads from all over the world, the "kind" of tourists we're told we'd like to attract.

What Whistler needs is a John Harvey Kellogg. At the turn of the century before last, Dr. Kellogg put Battle Creek, Mich. on the map. It was, in fact, Dr. Kellogg who coined the term sanitarium. He also thought people should eat horse food but that's beside the point.

We need such a visionary. Someone who knows how to get things done, someone with an entrepreneurial spirit, someone with good political connections. In short, someone who doesn't get high, conjure up weird ideas, get distracted staring at the fractal patterns of dust motes floating in the air and forget, or lose interest in, whatever the great idea was that just popped into their heads.

Now that Happy Jack has tossed his hat in the ring and challenged me for mayor of Tiny Town, I believe the Campagne de Fous has just hammered out a new plank in my platform.

The race is afoot!


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