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Legalize It

According to the April edition of Rolling Stone magazine, Fernie B.C. is the coolest town in North America. It has everything a hipster could want – deep powder (in other years, anyway), cheap lift tickets, and best of all, a ready supply of marijuana.

While Rolling Stone is a rag, a sad and cynical shadow of its freewheeling and revolutionary past, it is unfortunately a well-read and influential rag – how else would you explain the commercial success of Fiona Apple? If even one per cent of RS’s 1.25 million readers make the pilgrimage, Fernie can expect a visit from 12,500 Cypress Hill fans who are going to expect a Cheech and Chong dream vacation.

Evelyn Cutts, the mayor of Fernie, was out doing damage control the moment the article came out, first correcting author Josh Dean’s mistaken impression that snowboarder Ross Rebagliati, the gold medalist who tested positive for a small amount of marijuana during the ’98 Winter Olympics, grew up in Fernie – that distinction belongs to Whistler.

Dean also wrote that Fernie is a perfect place to grow marijuana, but according to Mayor Cutts that’s just not true – the valley is "too narrow" she said, and "we don’t have a long growing season."

And while Cutts admits that puffing the cheeba is a fact of life for many Fernie residents, she says drug use is not as flagrant or as public as Dean made it out to be. The only thing that he was right about, it seems, is the plentiful snow, and even that’s sort of a half truth – 2000-2001 was probably the worst season on record for the resort.

Since it is unlikely that as many people will read the retraction as read the article proclaiming Fernie to be a pot haven, the damage to Fernie’s reputation has already been done. Did I say damage? I meant the boost.

Since when did the truth get in the way of a good story? The town will be flooded with fraternity types looking for fresh tracks and fresh herbs to pack into their bongs, and Fernie would be silly not to take advantage of the fact.

Why fight it? Why not just legalize Mary Jane in Canada and use the proceeds the pot industry generates to lure doctors, nurses and tech-people back from the States, while giving our struggling farmers a real cash crop?

It’s what people want. Decades of propaganda by governments has done little or nothing to curb drug use among Canadians and Americans. An all out war on drugs has accomplished nothing except to flood the prison system and keep the prices high on the street.

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