December 6th, 1917 was the day thousands of people died, and thousands more were injured in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Halifax Explosionwas the largest explosion the world had ever seen before the nuclear age. Today is the hundredth anniversary of that horrific event. But bad as it was, it was an accident.
The same can not be said for the tragic event of December 6th, 1989.
A disturbed young man deliberately murdered Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz at the École Polytechnique.
Because they were women.
I chose to use the roses because they were part of a candlelight vigil in on December 6th, 2016 in Chilliwack, BC. People across Canada continue to share in this sorrow.
Cannabis is believed to be one of the oldest domesticated crops. Throughout history, humans have grown different varieties of cannabis for industrial and medical uses.
Tall, sturdy plants were grown by early civilizations to make a variety of foods, oils and textiles, such as rope and fabrics. These plants were bred with other plants with the same characteristics, leading to the type of cannabis we now know as hemp.
Other plants were recognized for being psychoactive and were bred selectively for medical and religious purposes. This led to unique varieties of cannabis that we now know as marijuana.
The war on drugs put an end to medicinal cannabis in Canada..
But pain management has always been critically important for the quality of life of many who have suffered injury or chronic illness.
Although Canadians can access a wide variety of drugs through a doctor’s prescription, there are many variables. When it comes to medicine, one size does not fit all:
what works for some patients doesn’t work for others.
long term use can decrease the effectiveness of pain killers, and
addiction and other side effects can reduce a patient’s quality of life.
Even as the emerging 20th Century pharmaceutical industry exploded into a rainbow of pain killers, anti-inflammatories, anti-depressants, analgesics and the like, not every patient or disease is adequately served by prescription medicines.
And so, illegal or not, in the latter part of the 20th Century, growing numbers of Canadians sought pain relief from cannabis.
“Compassion clubs came to Canada in the late 1990s, based on similar medicinal marijuana clubs in the United States. The goal of compassion clubs is to provide safe access to medicinal, or medical, marijuana when there is no government-sanctioned program, or when such a program is not effectively meeting the need.
“Compassion clubs exist to provide medical marijuana to people in need, but not all their members are licensed by Health Canada. While the clubs usually have their own strict guidelines for membership and providing cannabis—for chronic conditions, most clubs require a doctor’s note confirming a patient’s condition; for some conditions, a doctor’s prescription may be required—this does not make unlicensed members’ use legal. So, fear of prosecution is still a concern.
“Compassion club operations, in fact, are illegal under Canadian law.”
One day before the expiration of the court ordered time limit (July 30, 2001) the government implemented the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) (PDF). The MMAR created a framework that allowed (only) patients suffering from designated severe and extreme conditions to go through a lengthy and complicated application process that might result in a government license allowing them to possess and use marijuana legally.
Worse, the regulations failed to provide patients with any way to actually obtain a legal cannabis supply. This serious deficiency resulted in a succession of court challenges that eventually resulted in amendments that allowed patients to:
purchase dried marijuana from a single government supplier, or
grow their own, or
select a grower to grow cannabis for them
Many patients found the quality of theHealth Canada’s cannabis to be inferiorto cannabis available through Compassion Clubs or even the black market. The nonprofit BC Compassion Club (BCCCS) was founded in 1997, and has built a good reputation using knowledge and expertise to help patients find the best strain to address their health needs.
“Most of the harm associated with cannabis is actually due to the act of combusting,” notes [Jay Leung,communications coordinator for the BCCCS]. He adds that BCCCS has vaporizers for their clients to use, which produce the same effects as smoking without the health risks. The club also provides non-smoking options such as cannabis-infused oils and butter, tinctures (cannabinoids are extracted into an alcohol or glycerine base, then dropped or sprayed orally) and a variety of baked goods. And the dispensary sells items such as the vaporizers, forest-friendly rolling papers, glass pipes and more, which help members consume cannabis safely and effectively.”
When police found large amounts of cannabis-infused olive oil and cookies in the apartment of Owen Smith, former head baker for the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada, Smith was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and possession for the purpose of trafficking under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations. At the time, Canadian Law only allowed patients to consume Medical Marijuana by smoking it in dried form in spite of numerous studies about the health risks associated with smoking.
In 2014 the Harper Government changed the regulations, replacing the MMAR with Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) on April 1st, 2014. The new regulations prohibited patients from growing their own, instead, they were required to purchase their supply of medicine from licensed commercial growers.
The 2015 federal election gave the Justin Trudeau Liberals a “majority” government with a mandate to legalize cannabis in Canada. The new government placed the legalization file in the hands of rookie MP Bill Blair, better known as Toronto’s top cop during the infamous Toronto G20. Understandably cannabis activists have not been reassured by this choice.
Given that Cannabis was criminalized here without anything resembling scientific evidence, debate, or even any need for such a policy in 1923, Canada has undertaken little or no legitimate scientific study of the prohibited plant. As a result, the scarcity of official empirical evidence frees opponents of legalization to make unfounded and often ridiculous claims in support of their own preconceived notions.
Frightening tales without any basis in fact repeated over and over during the decades of Cannabis Prohibition are blindly accepted by some. Sometimes even counsellors tell “friend-of-a-friend” stories— urban legends—about people dying from eating pot brownies.
There have even been cases like the one where a professional pathologist imagined someone died from smoking a joint. The reality is that there’s no evidence cannabis use has ever killed anyone. On the contrary, the evidence we do have indicates such a thing is not possible.
“7. Drugs used in medicine are routinely given what is called an LD-50. The LD-50 rating indicates at what dosage fifty percent of test animals receiving a drug will die as a result of drug induced toxicity. A number of researchers have attempted to determine marijuana’s LD-50 rating in test animals, without success. Simply stated, researchers have been unable to give animals enough marijuana to induce death.
“8. At present it is estimated that marijuana’s LD-50 is around 1:20,000 or 1:40,000. In layman terms this means that in order to induce death a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette. NIDA-supplied marijuana cigarettes weigh approximately .9 grams. A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response.
“9. In practical terms, marijuana cannot induce a lethal response as a result of drug-related toxicity.”
Former sources of information once considered to be an authority in substance use are being questioned with good reason: “Reefer Madness” has taken on new forms to serve corporate special interests. As legalization approaches, the need for credible education is desperate.
In spite of promises of legalization by July 2018, heavy handed law enforcement crack downs on grey market dispensaries are justified by the government because Cannabis is still illegal.
But the “offense of compassion” committed by medical marijuana dispensaries’ clearly has public support. Justices tasked with sentencing the owners of these facilities are giving absolute discharges.
Producers Licensed under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulationshave been recalling product mailed to patients. It’s the users who are suffering most. Unsurprisingly people seeking access through medical marijuana dispensaries are being pushed back into the black market. What is the point of that?
Grey market dispensaries, like the Toronto Compassion Club, have been managing physician prescribed access to medical marijuana since 1997. The majority of public safety concerns stem from a lack of understanding of the values which created these grey markets in the first place.
Lisa Campbell, chairwoman of Women Grow Toronto, told VICE she’s hoping there will be a constructive conversation about regulating recreational versus medical dispensaries instead of having knee-jerk policies put in place. NormlCanada declares that the criminal prohibition of the cultivation and use of cannabis is no longer the most suitable measure for protecting public health and welfare and preventing the diversion of drugs into illicit traffic.
The City of Kitchener has not been very responsive to those seeking permits to offer safe access to cannabis, or lounges for consumption. Dispensaries that had been operating within the region were threatened with fines. Some closed their doors, while others continued to supply patients until they were raided.
ACCA believes that craft cannabis, like craft beer, has a place in the market; their primary goal is to educate the public, which includes the acknowledgement there is good and bad everywhere.
“Everyone wants it (a lounge), but no one wants their name on it.”
— Tony Millar
Court decisions continue to uphold patient rights, while the the Minister of Health claims the government needs more time to work on designing an appropriate regulatory system to develop and implement regulations. ACCA acknowledges information provided by Health Canada is updated regularly, and cite current publications in order to maintain credibility.
Professor David Hammondat the University of Waterloo, has been a great resource for ACCA, with his graduate and student supervision. Hammond, CIHR-PHAC Chair in Applied Public Health, focuses his research on chronic disease prevention and global health in the areas of tobacco control policy, health diets and obesity prevention, as well as harm reduction and drug policy. Professor Hammond is studying the effects of vaporizing cannabis, to better support students with related research interests in cannabis and harm reduction related research interests.
ACCA began hosting information sessions at UC VapeSeptember 15th 2017.
The first information night was inspired by Lisa Campbell’s presentation to the Toronto Business Licensing Committee and R v Smith.
The second information night included live demonstrations with a hydraulic rosin press by Rosin Artsand a live ice water extraction using Bubble Bags. These presses and bags will potentially be made available for rental in the near future. Another partner,Blue River will be the supplier of terpenes. According to their website, Blue River “offers the widest selection of award winning full spectrum essential oils naturally derived from whole plant cultivars. Our prices are based on grade, yield, and availability. Our pure essential oil products are designed to be used as a diluent for aromatherapy and vaporization.”
Abi Roach reminisced about when she started renting out a vaporizer back in 2003, to people looking for a place to consume their cannabis. The Hotbox Cafe in Toronto is celebrating it’s 14th year in operation. In the evenings “Hot Box Afterdark” hosts music and special events after 7pm. The Afterdark promotes itself as a great alternative to the bar scene. Abi spoke about how people need to consider what they’re advocating against, and that people shouldn’t have to get their pot from bikers.
Canna Relief, a product that will soon to be on shelves at your local Shoppers Drug Mart, was available for sample. The CBD drink is a specially formulated supplement containing a synergistic blend of vitamins, herbs, amino acids, and 20mg of pure CO2 extracted CBD derived from hemp stalk and seed. CannaSafety are confident that CannaRelief will help you control and manage THC anxiety so that you can safely and therapeutically benefit from your personal medicine.
Patients First “Action Plan for Heath Care” [download PDF] aims to bridge the gap for patients to Access, Connect, Inform, Protect.
“Although dispensaries were not a focus of the parties’ submissions, I find Ms. Shaw’s evidence [as a representative of the dispensaries] to be extremely important as dispensaries are at the heart of cannabis access,”
—Justice Michael Phelan, Reasons for Judgment (February 2016) Allard decision [download PDF]
“Municipalities seem to want to help, but don’t want to put themselves at risk” said Millar. Provinces are going to have to manage the regulatory aspects, but the proposed framework for new legislation does not leave room for the current market. On their website, the Liberal Party says “We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.”
New penalties would range from a simple police citation to 14 years behind bars, along with a “zero-tolerance approach” to drug-impaired driving, and a “robust” public awareness campaign.
“Because there were no advocates for the treatment of drug users prior to the late 1950s, it was easy for enforcement-related interests to implement harsh anti-drug legislation. This also meant that although drug users were often thought of as “sick,” imprisonment was a priority over treatment (Blackwell 1988:163).
“In addition, because habitual drug use was associated mostly with Chinese immigrants, many Canadians felt they were “immune from the effects of harsh drug legislation” (Alexander 1990:32).”
Canadians deserve evidence based harm reduction strategies. Alternative Cannabis Consumption Awareness is working with front runners in the early stages of a legal market, to provide the most up to date information, and in the near future, a place where the culture can thrive. Safe consumption sites will help integrate the shift in consciousness, as stigma is replaced by awareness.
French pioneer apothecary Louis Hébertwas the first European farmer in Canada. Cannabis Sativa, a plant known as “hemp,” was one of his crops.
The sails of sailing ships, canvas, rope, and linen were all manufactured from the rugged fibres of the hemp plant. As was the earliest known paper. Hemp dominated the paper trade until it was replaced by wood fibre in the 1800s.
There were no illegal drugs in Canada prior to the 20th Century. Deputy Minister of Labour William Lyon MacKenzie King changed all that in 1908.
“On Sept. 7, 1907, the Asiatic Exclusion League of Vancouver went on a rampage though the city’s Chinatown and Little Tokyo. No one was killed, but there was considerable property damage.
“The Liberal government of Wilfrid Laurier sent William Lyon Mackenzie King, the country’s first deputy minister of labour, to investigate.”Among the many individuals who submitted claims for restitution were several Chinese opium dealers, which prompted King to study the opium trade in Vancouver.
“There were no laws then governing the use of opium or other drugs; and, in fact, during the 19th century, laudanum, a mixture of liquid opium and alcohol and highly addictive, was popular as a pain remedy.
“King was stunned by what he learned about the corrupting influence of opium, connected as it was with widespread notions that Chinese men used opium to exploit and sexually assault white women.”
A year later the Canadian Government instituted the first legislation to regulate the use of medicine to protect the public in The Proprietary or Patent Medicine Act (1909). As an ingredient used in many such medicines, cannabis was regulated by this act.
The illicit opium smuggling that sprang up in answer to the Opium Act warranted a Royal Commission. Its recommendations to:
make sale, possession & smoking illegal drugs separate offenses, and
When William Lyon Mackenzie King became Prime Minister, the scope of his legal war on drugs continued to expand with the Narcotic Drugs Act Amendment Bill in 1923. Part of the reason for this law was to combine the growing body of law dealing with illegal drugs into one.
There was no discussion, just that one sentence spoken in Parliament added Cannabis to the Schedule of Controlled Substances without even naming it aloud in Parliament. (It was passed by the Senate without a word as well.)
There had been no mention of cannabis in the draft legislation (although it had been appended to one of the copies) but more importantly, it wasn’t a social issue when they made it illegal. Most Canadians hadn’t even heard of the stuff (under any name).
Those who had, knew of it as “marahuana,” thanks to the sensational writings of Judge Emily Murphy (of Famous Five fame). Her series of articles about illegal drug use for Macleans Magazine published under the pseudonym “Janie Canuck” formed the basis of her book “The Black Candle.” Taken as a whole, the racist dogwhistle Ms Murphy’s book was blowing warned of an international drug conspiracy to bring about the “downfall of the white race.” Several of the photographs depict addicted white women consorting with men of colour to help drive home Ms Murphy’s race war narrative.
“One becomes especially disquieted — almost terrified — in face of these things, for it sometimes seems as if the white race lacks both the physical and moral stamina to protect itself, and that maybe the black and yellow races may yet obtain the ascendancy.”
The incendiary book plied the reader with misinformation about of the dangers of “marahuana.” Although hemp was grown in Canada, there was no actual evidence supporting Ms Murphy’s imaginings, although she had no shortage of specious “expert” testimony to present.
Charles A. Jones, the Chief of Police for the city, said in a recent letter that hashish, or Indian hemp, grows wild in Mexico but to raise this shrub in California constitutes a violation of the State Narcotic law. He says, “Persons’ using this narcotic, smoke the dried leaves of the plant, which has the effect of driving them completely insane. The addict loses all sense of moral responsibility. Addicts to this drug, while under its influence, are immune to pain, and could be severely injured Without having any realization of their condition. While in this condition they become raving maniacs and are liable to kill or indulge in any form of violence to other persons, using the most savage methods of cruelty without, as said before, any sense of moral responsibility.
“When coming from under the influence of this narcotic, these victims present the most horrible condition imaginable. They are dispossessed of their natural and normal will power, and their mentality is that of idiots. If this drug is indulged in to any great extent, it ends in the untimely death of its addict.”
Ms Murphy’s best seller is thought by some to have influenced the decision to quietly add Cannabis to the schedule a year later.
At the time they made it illegal, Cannabis was such a non-issue that:
“The first seizure of marijuana cigarettes occurred only in 1932, nine years after the law had passed (p. 182); the first four possession offences (it is not clear whether these were charges or convictions) occurred in 1937, 14 years after cannabis was criminalized (p. 599)
No one really knows the “why” of it. Racism was clearly a factor in Canada’s war on drugs, but the reality was that Marijuana didn’t become a social issue until long after Cannabis had been made illegal. Although criminalization led to a handful of arrests here and there, marijuana arrests never exceeded 100 annually prior to the 1960s. Some think the real reason Cannabis was added to the schedule was to eliminate the hemp industry, but something else to consider is that its inclusion in the schedule meant it could no longer be used for medicinal purposes in Canada, so pharmaceutical competition may have been the reason.
The maximum penalty for possession of small quantities was six months in prison and a $1,000 fine for a first offence. Convictions for cannabis skyrocketed, from 25 convictions between 1930 and 1946, to 20 cases in 1962, to 2,300 cases in 1968, to 12,000 in 1972. The Narcotics Control Act of 1961 increased maximum penalties to 14 years to life imprisonment.
Even though Cannabis still hadn’t become a big problem, its continued presence on the Schedule was supported by the Minister of National Health’s (now debunked) argument that it was a gateway drug,
The use of marijuana as a drug of addiction in Canada is fortunately not widespread. It, however, may well provide a stepping stone to addiction to heroin and here again cultivation of marijuana is prohibited except under licence.
Lennon’s testimony suggested flagrant government misinformation about the effects of marijuana led users to assume legitimate government warnings about the hazards of hard drugs were also unfounded propaganda. And indeed, the Le Dain Commission concluded that there was no scientific evidence warranting the criminalization of cannabis.
“Marie-Andree Bertrand, writing for a minority view, recommended a policy of legal distribution of cannabis, that cannabis be removed from the Narcotic Control Act (since replaced by the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act) and that the provinces implement controls on possession and cultivation, similar to those governing the use of alcohol.”
Today’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a young man at a Vice Town Hall about his brother’s predicament:
“…he was charged with possession. When he got back home to Montreal my Dad said, ‘Okay, don’t worry about it.’ reached out to his friends in the legal community, got the best possible lawyer, and was very confident that we were going to be able to make those charges go away.
“We were able to do that because we had resources, my Dad had a couple connections, and we were confident that my little brother wasn’t going to be saddled with a criminal record for life.”
Snack on delicious desserts and enjoy fantastic live music with Madison Galloway and check out the live auction with Nick Maidment. You’ll also have an opportunity to meet special guest Dr. Poh-Gek Forkert, a researcher and toxicologist who’s published more than eighty papers and book chapters on the metabolism of toxic chemicals. Her most recent work was on the Paris Pit case with the Concerned Citizens of Brant (CCOB). She’ll also talk about her new book Fighting Dirty: How a Small Community Took on Big Trash, the story of one small group of farmers, small-town residents, and Indigenous people who took on the world’s largest waste disposal company to stop them from expanding a local dumpsite into a massive land fill.
“It struck me early on, though, that for all their deep roots in this land, community members didn’t have a voice in decisions about how that land was to be used. As a scientist, I was trained to be dispassionate, objective, logical, rational—and none of that changed. But for the first time in my personal life, I joined forces with a community of people as they fought to avert environmental catastrophe.”
— Dr. Poh-Gek Forkert
If you’ve already got your copy of “Fighting Dirty,” bring it along so Dr. Forkert can sign it; but if you haven’t, I expect you’ll be able to pick up a copy on Saturday.
Brantford-Brant Greens, the Grand River Environmental Network, OPAL Alliance and others have partnered with the CCOB in sharing our concern for this fragile watershed and supporting the precautionary measures that must be taken to protect our water.
Celebrate Our Waters: A Family Event, Book Launch and Fundraiser Saturday, November 18the, 2017 2-5pm St. Paul’s United Church 48 Broadway Street West, Paris, Ontario, N3L 2S5
Unsurprisingly the big one was Mr Trudeau’s badly broken Electoral Reform promise.
Democratic deficit, the failure to restore protections to “navigable waters,” Environment policy direction, Climate Change policy, failure to live up to Reconciliation, ignoring evidence given by experts and citizens to Parliamentary Committees and National Consultations… there is much need for improvement.
“…the intangibles are re-engaging Canadians in having faith and hope and trust in a government — if you squander that you encourage cynicism and you hurt democracy in a fundamental way.”
WRGreens congratulate Waterloo’s “Zee” Zdravko Gunjevic and Kitchener Centre’s Stacey Danckert on their nomination as Green Party Candidates at Sunday’s combined WRGreens GPO Constituency Association nomination meeting at the Kitchener Public Library.
A second combined nomination meeting for the other WRGreens ridings is in the works, possibly for December. We’ll keep you posted!
Photos by Laurel Russwurm released under a Creative Commons Attribution License may be attributed to WRGreens. These (and many more) are available in the WRGreens Flickr album.
NOTE: If you find yourself in one of our blogs or Flickr albums but would prefer not to appear there, or should you wish to remain but be identified by name, please contact Laurel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Waterloo Region Greens! Just a reminder that this Sunday will be the nomination meetings for both the Kitchener Centre and Waterloo Constituency Associations.
Any Green Party of Ontario members in these ridings are invited to vote for the person who will become the GPO candidate for the provincial election in June 2018. And everybody is invited to attend!
What: Waterloo and Kitchener Centre Nomination Meeting When: Sunday, 22 October 2017 from 2:00pm to 4:00pm Cal Where: Central Branch, Kitchener Public Library Location: 85 Queen Street North, Kitchener, Ontario Map
Once the candidates have been nominated we’ll kick off the 2018 election campaign! Learn about Green issues and find ways to make an impact.