Whether for or against the legalization of pot, you should be both concerned and alarmed at the proliferation of illegal pot outlets in Vancouver and Victoria. Understand that because these outlets create significant revenues, other cities will quickly want to jump aboard. We must find the answer to safely navigating our medical marijuana dilemma. Otherwise, the hopes of medical marijuana might be lost in the frenzy to make pot legally available.
It makes no difference whether you call them Compassion Clubs or whatever euphemistic terminology might be developed. They are illegal establishments which deal in a controlled substance. There existence and the activist judges and municipalities who condone them before legalization is a large part of why this industry threatens to implode.
My concerns are not about the medicinal value of medical marijuana. My concerns are about the breakdown in the “rule of law”. There seems to be an almost hysterical movement to grant pot a quasi-legal status.
Marijuana definitely has a medicinal value.
The idea of marijuana being used as a medicine is widely talked about. It almost seems to be a mission of Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN. He is the Cable News Network Medical Consultant. There can be no rational debate as to whether or not marijuana has a medicinal value. The empirical data is absolutely compelling and unquestionable. This is especially true of marijuana treatment as it relates to certain types of pain control and seizure control. As well it seems to be proving itself valuable in managing many other chronic diseases.
It is a fact that marijuana has the ability to favorably alter the quality of life for many individuals. These truths are recognized, begrudgingly, by Health Canada. Additionally, even the somewhat paranoid FDA, Food and Drug Administration, in the United States is slowly recognizing the value of medical marijuana.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. “It acts much like the cannabinoid chemicals made naturally by the body“, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
“Cannabinoid receptors are concentrated in certain areas of the brain associated with thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and time perception. THC attaches to these receptors and activates them and affects a person’s memory, pleasure, movements, thinking, concentration, coordination, and sensory and time perception“, according to NIDA.
“THC is one of many compounds found in the resin secreted by glands of the marijuana plant. More of these glands are found around the reproductive organs of the plant than on any other area of the plant. Other compounds unique to marijuana, called cannabinoids, are present in this resin. One cannabinoid, CBD is non-psychoactive“, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. It say this cannabinoid “…actually blocks the high associated with THC“.
We have a medical marijuana dilemma in Canada because of the criminal/biker involvement in the sale of marijuana. This involvement has meant that the cultivation and sale of marijuana has heretofore been mired in misery, steeped in violence and surrounded by death. And this is true whether we label it for “medical” or “recreational”. From that standpoint alone, pot is not a harmless drug.
This criminal involvement is now a threat to the medical marijuana industry. The criminals will grow with no standards. They don’t care about the medicinal qualities of their crops. This lack of standards will undermine the credibility of pot’s medicinal value.
Motorcycle gangs dominate the pot scene
For at least the last decade motorcycle gangs have dominated the marijuana business. They have accomplished that domination through violence, through brutality and through murder. BC Bud, as it is called, has long been a sought after commodity because of its potency (high levels of THC).
The cross border trade in marijuana and guns
The bikers smuggle their marijuana south of the border to the U.S. There they trade it for cocaine and weapons. They then smuggle those items back to Canada. Once in Canada, they use the weapons to control the drug trade. And they sell the cocaine at a high profit margin because of the even trade, ounce for ounce, of BC Bud for cocaine. This creates a very large profit margin.
These are the gangs that Stew Young’s policies have invited to Langford. They are being allowed to entrench themselves into that municipality because Stew keeps sending its citizens false hopes. Does anybody really believe challenging the Devils Army presence with bylaw infractions will actually do anything?
The medical marijuana dilemma is not about the medicinal value. It is about gangs seizing control of the medical marijuana industry.
For at least the past year, I am personally aware that gangs have been actively buying up and/or otherwise taking over the licenses of individuals who have the right to grow marijuana for their own personal, medical use. By combining the yield from those licenses, and also by forcing individual licensees to grow more than they are permitted, these gangs are infiltrating and taking over the medical marijuana trade. They are converting what was originally a compassionate, but ill conceived program, into an organized criminal enterprise.
Was this not predictable?
What did our government think was going to happen when it began licensing individuals to grow weed? Did it really believe that there are enough police to go out and visit every individual licensee on a regular basis? Did it really think it could ensure that each licensee is in compliance with regulations?
Gangs goals in the production of pot versus medical goals
Let us look at two simple, yet undeniable, facts:
- As we learned earlier, two of the main active properties of pot are found in THC, the psychoactive chemical that produces a high, and in CBD, the chemical principally responsible for the physical, medical benefits thereof. Thus, the ideal strain of pot for medical use would be one low in THC and high in CBD.
- Far more individuals use pot for recreational purposes than use it for medical purposes.
Gangs are in the business of maximizing their illegal profits no matter the misery they create for society. Gangs are not stupid. They recognize that the largest number of pot buyers comes from the recreational users side of the spectrum, instead of from medical users. Therefore, do you think that the gangs would prefer to produce and sell a marijuana strain high in THC, the psychoactive ingredient, or high in CBD, the physioactive and curative ingredient?
Thus, with gangs selling pot to the plethora of “supposed” medical marijuana dispensaries that sprout like weeds in Vancouver and Victoria, and will continue to do so unless some sanity is brought to the medical marijuana industry, these dispensaries will be selling pot with the exact opposite properties of what is medically needed.
Would you fill your prescriptions at a pharmacy which buys its medicine supplies from a criminal organization? Would you use medicine that is produced to give the exact opposite effects of what you need?
This is precisely what Vancouver is proposing that you do. It is also exactly what Victoria is thinking of proposing. It is absolute insanity.
As I write this blog posting, there are 25 commercially licensed pot growers in Canada. The facts are that gang activity is already having a negative impact on their businesses. Why are we allowing criminal organizations to threaten legitimate businesses?
One of Nanaimo’s largest employers just laid off some 1/3 of its staff.
Tilray is a leading supplier of medical marijuana in western Canada. The news article quoted herein from CBC does not tell us why Tilray’s business has declined. Nevertheless, I have the reason from insiders. The illegal supplying of marijuana to its customer base by other suppliers is the cause of the layoffs. In fact, a careful reading of that news article certainly lends itself to such a conclusion when it says, “…serve patients and the MMPR market as it exists today…”
“One of Vancouver Island’s largest medical marijuana growing companies announced Thursday it is laying off 61 employees. Tilray opened its Nanaimo facility in 2014 and at its peak employed nearly 200 people, giving it a high profile as a major employer in the region.”
“The company insists the layoffs will not have any impact on the thousands of patients we serve”. “Tilray is making changes to our operating model to more efficiently serve patients and the MMPR market as it exists today,” Engel wrote.
“Tilray is well-capitalized and confident in our long-term business strategy, and we are operating more efficiently than ever before.“
Think about this also
Organized crime, in the form of gangs involved in the medical marijuana business, is already costing Nanaimo legitimate business. It is business that will likely never return because the buyers from the gangs will not be allowed by the gangs to take their business elsewhere.
The legalization of marijuana for medical purposes is absolutely correct. If we are to solve the medical marijuana dilemma though, that legalization must come through our federal government. The road to that legalization must be well planned and well built. Otherwise we are funding the coffers of organized crime and sending the wrong message to our youth about “the rule of law”.
Right now, as Vancouver has already done, Victoria is contemplating licensing illegal marijuana stores. Vancouver opted for money over morality. It also opted for money over commonsense. Canadian cities need to get out of the business of establishing illegal storefronts to dispense marijuana if they hope to successfully fight the bikers and have real medical marijuana available.
In Vancouver, they have imposed a $30,000 licensing fee for private marijuana businesses. When this fee is combined with tax revenues and whatever other charges the city can dream up, it amounts to a cash windfall.
It is a disgusting display of greed as Vancouver violates federal law and legalizes drug dealing under the guise of public health. They do so with a cheer leading squad led by those who care nothing about the medicinal value of marijuana. They only use its medical benefits as a rallying cry so they can get high with less possibility of any legal consequences.
Licensing pot shops in Victoria is akin to offering motorcycle gangs and ethnicity based gangs an invitation to set up in Victoria.
These pot shops will not only buy their weed from gangs, many will be run by gangs and owned by gangs.
Gangs are in the business of vice. They sell those things which threaten the moral values and the legal values of society. Recreational pot sold to minors definitely falls within those categories. It is not possible for the City of Victoria to establish a licensing standard that would preclude gang ownership of any shop selling marijuana. Remember, such ownership can easily be established through relatives and friends.
What the City of Victoria is really thinking about is inviting dope dealers and other criminals to set up shop in Victoria.
When I speak to our youth about the recreational use of pot, I always give them truth (detailed below). They can handle the truth, but they cannot handle the hypocrisy of municipalities violating federal laws.
- Your brain will not be fully developed until you are in your twenties. The younger you are when you start drugs, the greater the chance you will end up a hopeless addict.
- This is the time you are training your brain. You can train it to be weak or you can train it to be strong. Taking any drug for non-medicinal purposes trains it to be weak.
All drugs physically alter your brain.
- All drugs are gateway drugs. They are the gateway to your own personal hell. They teach you to hang out with the wrong people. Your friends will be people who don’t care about you. They will only care about having somebody, anybody, to get high with. These people have no goals and their future is as bleak as yours will be if you start down the road of drugs. Drugs, even marijuana, train you to run from your troubles rather than face them. Drugs, even marijuana, convince you that the only happiness you will ever find in your life is getting high.
With Vancouver already violating federal law and Victoria preparing to vote on possibly joining Vancouver, what is the message to our youth?
Are we not telling our youth that the “rule of law” does not matter. Are we not saying that if enough people don’t like the law or if there is enough money to made by violating it then we have the right to ignore it? If you don’t like the laws, vote people in who will change them, but don’t violate them.
It is called “being a sorry example”. It teaches our youth a lack of respect for our laws, as well as for the those who enforce our laws, namely, the courts and the police.
How will this affect our police? How will this affect Crown Prosecutors? How will the courts react? How did we get to this point?
I place the principal blame for this situation on the courts which have, de facto, de-criminalized pot.
We have a court system with judges sworn to uphold the law. Despite this fact, we have too many activist judges. These are judges who disagree with the severity of the suggested sentences for marijuana related offenses. Accordingly, they hand down punishments far more lenient than was intended by our lawmakers. They have weakened the laws to the point that nobody fears the repercussions.
The really sad thing about all these watered down sentences is that with each sentence these judges are creating something known in the law as “Precedent“. Precedent, simply stated, “…is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case that is either binding on or persuasive for a court or other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts“.
As implied by its meaning, a precedent, once established, is something that determines judges’ sentencing for years to come. Thus the leniency toward marijuana by the courts, a leniency that has existed for several years now, is destined to continue for another decade or longer. This will happen unless and until all or most judges change that precedent by a series of harsher sentences for marijuana related offenses.
What are the courts going to do when individuals are brought before them in violation of a federal law, but in compliance with a city bylaw?
Judges’ actions and the Precedents they establish have a direct effect on Crown Prosecutors, on the police and on criminal activity.
Crown Prosecutors make decisions to charge an individual based upon several the severity and the likelihood of conviction. When certain crimes are taken less seriously by the courts, as demonstrated by very light sentences, rather than have a trial, the prosecutors and the defense lawyers tend to “plea bargain“. This often results a light sentence, such as probation, in return for a “guilty” plea. This saves the prosecutors time with which to go after crimes that exact more severe sentences from the courts.
Police, in turn, and to allow them to use their time more efficiently to apprehend criminals, shy away from referring criminal infractions to crown prosecutors when it has been the experience of the police that those prosecutors are unlikely to lay charges against the individual.
For instance, if an individual is caught with marijuana, the criminal knows that carrying an ounce of that weed in bulk will bring about a very minor sentence for simple possession.Conversely, the criminal is aware that having that exact same amount of weed divided up into $20 baggies with could bring a charge of “Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking”. That is a far more serious charge.
Are not medicinally regulated drugs supposed to be controlled through prescriptions from doctors? Are they not required to be dispensed through licensed pharmacists trained in their profession?
Under the current plan being considered in Victoria, within the next year, weed businesses will almost certainly outnumber liquor stores
As of the date of this blog post, at least according to a recent article by Jack Knox in the Times Colonist, there are twenty-four liquor stores in Victoria. There are also twenty weed related businesses. Thus, the number of liquor stores which took decades to come into fruition have almost been eclipsed by weed related businesses, just in the last two years.
The basic model is already in place for prescribing and dispensing controlled medicines. Why do not need to re-invent the wheel? Why is this model correct for every drug other than marijuana?
Let pharmacists dispense marijuana to those individuals who have a legitimate prescription for it. Next, let that prescription be valid for a certain form of the drug only. Finally, let a doctor determine the amount and the number of refills.
Any other means of prescribing and dispensing marijuana is insanity? Would you allow street vendors to sell oxycodone? Under the current scheme, since doctors have no accountability for the issuance of “marijuana rights cards”, there is no medical accountability.
Under the current scheme, there will always be a handful of unscrupulous doctors “on the take” issuing “blanket marijuana rights cards“. Requiring prescriptions alters that landscape significantly. The current scheme also does nothing to preclude individuals with such a card from selling to their buddies. Hell, they can even purchase simply for the purposes of reselling.
Yes, there will need to be some minor changes in the supply chain to the pharmacist. But those changes can be instituted with a minimum need for system tweaks and absent any need for an entire supply and dispensing apparatus to be invented.
In a twist of irony, with all of this considered, for those who really need marijuana for medical purposes, the only way they will ever get what they need is if recreational pot is re-criminalized, not de-criminalized. The courts MUST lead the way though.
- We ensure that the marijuana going to our sick is adequate to do the job.
- We establish a stronger deterrent against gang involvement with weed.
- We stop the demoralization of crown prosecutors and police who are becoming increasingly frustrated by the courts.
- We ensure that our youth do not see a marijuana dispensary on every block.
- We send our youth a clear and consistent message that the “rule of law” is an integral part of Canadian life.
- We encourage the growth of legitimate businesses. We need businesses that are legally licensed by the federal government and businesses that employ citizens and actually pay taxes. We don’t need businesses that steal from us and destroy what might be the finest health care system in the world.
I am proud to be Canadian, but I hate what is happening to our laws. I feel shame as tourists flock off of cruise ships and airplanes to see our streets rife with storefronts selling marijuana.