Friday, April 30, 2004

Up in Smoke: Canadians Don't Fear the Reefer!

It's at least 20 degrees Celsius outside but the sun is piercing through a dense layer of clouds, almost like a halogen lamp covered in a bedsheet. has predicted that Montreal will be a balmy 24 degrees C tomorrow with only a 40 percent chance of showers.

Looking for something to do on a sunny Saturday? Bring your rollies and a small personal amount of cannabis to show support for legalization of Her Royal Highness, Mary Jane, at the following location:

Chez Marijane (coffee shop)
74 Rachel St. East
Montreal, Quebec

Saturday, May 1st
For more information, contact Marc-Boris St. Maurice @ or Hugo St-Onge @
(514) 842-4900.
I attended the Pro-Pot March last year and was amazed at how kind and non-threatening the Montreal Police were to the crowds of stoners. They didn't arrest anyone as long as they weren't selling and it felt really good to be smoking a joint in front of the police without having to keep your lawyer's number on the speed-dial.

It is really fascinating when you consider that the United States government's War on Drugs costs the American taxpayer $600 USD per second, 365 days a year ($19.179 billion USD in 2003). The recent Auditor-General's report indicated that Canada spent about $500 million dollars to try and thwart the spread of illicit drug use, with most of the money being spent on tracking down cannabis users. Granted, many drugs are harmful to human beings and I'm not endorsing anything hard or synthetic. I just want to be able to come home from work, pull out my stash of green "Freezeland" (or indoor M39, whichever is available) and smoke a joint without fear of a home invasion by my own government.

Marc-Boris St. Maurice, bass player from the now defunct Quebec punk group "Grim Skunk", has been the leader of the Canadian Marijuana Party since it's inception in 1997. The CMP only has one platform (legalization of cannabis) and they received 0.5 percent of the popular vote in the 2000 Election. Even though over 7 percent of Canadians smoke cannabis regularly, people are very loyal to their political parties and it has been difficult for the Marijuana Party to gain a solid footing. Still, they doubled their results compared to 1996, so they are obviously on the upswing as a political force.

Mr. St. Maurice is going to be running in Lasalle-Ville Emard in the upcoming Canadian Federal Election and he chose this riding for a reason: it is Paul Martin's home Riding and he hopes that this will give him the opportunity to spread his message and attract media attention. I wouldn't bet my life savings on his chances of winning a seat, but I appreciate his solidarity to the noble cause of Herbal Rights.

Cigarette Warning Label

Of course, all the major parties have to do is to support legalization and the Marjiuana Party would have no reason to exist. Their ultimate aim isn't really to get elected--it's to create a public discourse about changing legislation that affects a large number of our fellow citizens. Canada is fairly divided over the issue, with approximately 47 percent of Canadians supporting outright legalization of cannabis and 70 percent supporting some form of decriminalization for cannabis offenses.

The difference between legalization and decriminalization is that decriminalization is a half-solution. It doesn't make it legal to sell or cultivate marijuana but it removes the crime for possession, replacing it with a fine of a few hundred dollars. This might be considered a form of taxation that would increase the government coffers without actually taking a stand for marijuana. The Liberal government under Jean Chretien was talking openly about decriminalization but the legislation has stalled since Paul Martin came into office.

Since our friends in America have a vested interest in keeping everyone sober and ready for war, they are strongly against legalization or any modification of the Drug Laws. They have warned that if we change our position on ganga, it will mean longer lines at the border and other nefarious, thinly-veiled threats. Paul Martin has been trying to curry favour with the Bush Administration so don't expect him to lead the charge to legalize the Sacred Herb.

Imagine if it became legalized? The revenue incurred by actually selling pot could finance billions of dollars worth of education, environmental initiatives, enhanced health care, or anything else worthwhile. The question is, would we prefer that the bikers keep all of this money? We're always talking about tax relief so how about we actually do something that could reduce the tax burden? The matter has been handed to you. Shall you accept the toke of knowledge?

Visit to make a tax-deductible donation or for more information about the Million Marijuana March which will occur on Saturday, May 1st. (We won't have a million people marching in the streets of Montreal, but you know how stoners count? "1...2...where's that joint?, shucks, there's about a million people here!")

No comments: