HALIFAX, N.S. – There are a lot of places to begin the story of cannabis in Canada.
So how about with a strange, mediocre movie because that is where so many members of the largest generation of Canadians in history — the baby boomers — learned of “perp,” “keef,” “gangster,” “doobie,” as marijuana was known on a federal government website prepared in anticipation of Oct. 17, when marijuana will be legalized.
To watch Reefer Madness in 2018 is to wonder.
Why is every adult in the movie — the muttering, alarmed parents, the bug-eyed school principal, the pot-addled murderer played with scenery-chewing brio by a star of “B” western movies — so old?
How, even in the late 1930s, did they get away with the laughable stereotyping: the dealers and users are the children of divorce and live in urban tenements; the first person to light a spliff is a jittery jazz pianist with wild Chico Marx hair, whose ancestors probably did not come from the British Isles?
Most of all, how did we get from there — when a couple of tokes was thought to lead to “emotional disturbances,” “acts of shocking violence” and “incurable insanity” — to today, when it will be possible next week to buy a joint in premises as sleek and shiny as an Apple store?
The easiest thing to say is that the key moment occurred in 2012, at the national Liberal convention when Grits from across the country vowed to legalize marijuana. And when elected, Justin Trudeau kept that promise.
So, long before our MPs and senators were debating the pros and cons of being able to buy pot like a six-pack of Keiths, Canadians were growing our own.
“More than pushing the agenda forward he put his money where his mouth is,” says Jonathan Hiltz, director of development for INDIVA