Maxed Out 

Have you heard? The war is over!

Page 2 of 3

To further my touristic experience and quench my desires, he drew me a crude map, directing me to a canal some miles distant, and since barges tethered along Amsterdam's canals didn't have house numbers, told me to look for the "big mouth." "Ya can't miss it, mahn," he said in a mock Rastaman accent.

He was right. Tied to the eastern side of a canal in an otherwise prim neighbourhood was a barge with a false facade on its starboard side. It looked like an outsized pair of Rolling Stone logo lips but with teeth instead of a lasciviously protruding tongue. The entryway was the left-middle tooth.

When my eyes had adjusted to the gloom inside the cabin I descended six stairs and stood in front of what appeared to be a bank teller's cage. Inch thick bullet-proof glass separated me from the teller, your standard issue biker/bouncer/don't-mess-with-me tough guy. A hand printed "menu" scotch-taped to the glass listed the cannabis du jour, half a dozen choices all at market prices in a reasonably priced market.

I made my choice, slipped what I was sure was a sufficient amount of unfamiliar currency through the opening at the bottom of the glass and waited while the pot teller disappeared through a door behind his chair. Having watched too many sting movies, I expected a trap door to open and flush me into the canal. It didn't. The clerk reappeared, slid a plastic bag of pot and my change back under the protective glass and wished me a pleasant stay in Amsterdam. I was so dumbfounded I forgot to ask if he sold papers.

I don't expect to live long enough to ever replicate that experience in Canada. I don't imagine for a minute the recommendations of the Senate Committee will be adopted. The great thing about being a senator is you don't have to stand for re-election and it's going to take some very brave MPs to ever actually legalize pot.

And that's a real shame.

The senate report is a lot broader in its scope than just recommending pot be legalized. The reporting of it has been trivialized by the media who've latched onto that one recommendation and the other one about establishing a framework for production, distribution and sale. The whole report is 600 pages and the summary a brief 55. Judging from what I've seen to date, journalists have read maybe 10, reported on maybe two.

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