In the 1960s, legendary comedian Lenny Bruce made this prediction. “Marijuana will be legal some day, because the many law students who now smoke pot will some day become Congressmen and legalize it in order to protect themselves.”
As a male in his late teens for whom beer was the bridge of choice to adulthood, and who did no drugs at all, I would have placed money on Lenny’s prediction.
Almost all of my friends smoked, dodging the half-interest of Montreal’s gendarmerie while indulging in doobies and double-shot espressos at hippie coffee houses. For them, legalizing marijuana consumption was critical — an Easy Rider essential.
We rode motorcycles, mine chopped á la Fonda and Hopper. Long hair and beards, noisy boots and leathers offered an aura of invincibility. And the weed went along everywhere. Once, unwisely, it joined us on one ride across the United States border into New York state.
It didn’t take the U.S. Customs folks long to pull aside and partly dismantle one of my buddy’s bikes, find his stash and escort him cuffed into a cell, where he may have been staring at years as a guest of the U.S. criminal justice system. The Americans, though, cut my pal a major break and sent him home with, as I recall, a multi-year ban on reentering the U.S.
There was much grinding of teeth and cheering that Canada’s enlightened rock star Prime Minister Trudeau was about to propel our nation into a future of marijuana freedom.
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, that is. Justin, the current Trudeau occupant of the PMO, hadn’t yet been born.
And so, here we are, again at the junction of approved marijuana freedom for Canada.
A few of my 1960s biker friends still ride, I hear. Hair and beards are grey. Boneshaker choppers have been replaced by plush two-wheelers, replete with cruise control, sound systems and cushy seats with armrests for passengers. I’m informed their feelings about marijuana remain unchanged and their hope now rests the younger Trudeau.
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I have no interest in the appearance of sanctioned MarijuanaRama superstores where your favourite weed blends may eventually appear alongside your chosen coffee beans equivalency.
I’m more inclined to listen to my good friend and former national president of the Liberal Party of Canada, Stephen Ledrew. His contention is that the current and longtime distributors of ganja will neither look kindly upon, nor passively accept, government intrusion on informal and largely unchanged turf networks of 50 years ago.
Sure, marijuana will be legal and there will be customers flashing giggly V for victory signs at licenced outlets. But the black market street trade will boom and offer choice and lower price.
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The reality at Canada-U.S. border crossings won’t change anytime soon. While several states have legalized pot sales and consumption, federal agents will still slap cuffs on you if you hide your stash behind the grip in your motorcycle handlebar. Or anyplace else.
I wonder what Lenny Bruce would say today.