October 22, 2018 6:00 am

COMMENTARY: The so-called ‘war on drugs’ in Canada has been won … by the drugs

Health Minister Ginette Petipas Taylor discusses cannabis legalization.

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“I was gonna go to work, then I got high. Now I’m selling dope, and I know why …’cause I got high, ’cause I got high, ’cause I got high.” — Afroman

It was a long war — almost as long as the infamous Hundred Years War, which was pretty long, even for two countries like England and France that detested each other.

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Canada’s war on cannabis began in 1923 when the drug was added to a law already in place that put restrictions on opium, but was really all about excluding Chinese people from the immigration system. As in, “Thanks for building the railroad, but we don’t need you anymore.”

MORE: For the launch of our weekly newsletter Cannabis IQ, we’re giving away $100 Visa gift cards. Click here to find out more.

The casualties of this war can’t be counted by the number of dead and injured, but rather by the number of people denied jobs, housing and permission to travel because of possession charges. The Nebel des Krieges or the Fog of this War, the uncertainty of situational awareness, was a thick haze of smoke — usually a secret room or basement where participants could inhale the demon weed before falling head-first into a bag of corn chips.

Last week, the war ended much like World War Two. The nuclear option. Canada became the second country on the planet to remove the simple possession of marijuana from its criminal codebook. (Uruguay was the first).

Public polling going back years could see it coming. Unlike our American neighbours who remain, many of them, as puritanical as their cousins from Europe, Canadian were becoming less and less fanatical about pot. By 2016, fully seven out of 10 Canadians believed cannabis should be decriminalized.

READ MORE: Location, location, location — Girl Guide sells out of cookies in front of Edmonton cannabis store on first day

Justin Trudeau mentioned that during his winning 2015 campaign for the Liberals, but I don’t think anyone took it too seriously. Besides, police were charging fewer and fewer people with possession of small amounts for personal use. Medicinal marijuana was mainstream, even with some resistance within the medical community. Every April 20, (“4/20”) a cloud of dope smoke rose during municipal pro-pot rallies that was so thick it would have grounded commercial aircraft. Reading the smoke signals, the Liberals introduced the legislation that, despite desperate tactics by some Conservative Senators, brought us to last Wednesday, legalization day.

And we didn’t see societal collapse on Thursday. Nova Scotia reported first day sales of almost $700,000. Ontario’s pledge to have it delivered from their government controlled website within three business days suddenly became five business days. Cannabis producer stocks have gone through the roof.

And what the media kept forgetting was that almost five million Canadians have admitted they’ve smoked dope.  Over $5 billion was spent legally and illegally in 2017 on pot. That smothers the total box office receipts for movies that year.

READ MORE: Cannabis IQ — Here’s how pot legalization will impact the economy

So what prompted the countdown clocks on newspaper websites or the crush of cameras in a retail location in St. John’s at midnight in Newfoundland so we could watch the first legal sale of a drug we had become so used to?

Titillation, I guess. Canadians remain very childlike when it comes to the news we consume. The jokes and puns flew fast and furious on my radio program, much to my own embarrassment. I am on record as being 100 per cent behind this move, although I do have worries about today’s potency and the effect it can have on the already addled brains of teenagers. The government is out of its own brain if it thinks it will successfully keep pot out of adolescent hands. I sometimes get the feeling that our lawmakers never went through the teen years; instead, it was age 12, then straight to law school.

WATCH BELOW: Mike Stafford will let Afroman do the explaining for him. ‘I was gonna go to work, then I got high. Now I’m selling dope, and I know why …’cause I got high, ’cause I got high, ’cause I got high’

Thanks to the science of botany, there’s a strain of dope that will fit the needs of most; CBD for the people in pain, THC for those who need something that will make them laugh at a comedy show on CBC television.

The war is over and it’s time to rebuild the nation. I’d help in that post-war recovery but, you know.

I think Afroman can do the explaining for me.

Mike Stafford is co-host of The Morning Show on Global News Radio 640 Toronto.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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