COLUMN: Time to smarten up and get off the pot

The fact is multiple generations of the good folks in Sooke and across the country are engaging in criminal activity at any given moment.

By Rick Stiebel

We are surrounded by quasi criminals wherever we live in Canada, maybe even more so in Sooke. They are the pastors who baptize our babies, the doctors we see for what ails us, the politicians we vote for, the police officers who pull us over for speeding and the plumbers who repaired our leaky faucets last week.

The fact is multiple generations of the good folks in Sooke and across the country are engaging in criminal activity at any given moment.

You can smell the evidence on the clothes of the person sitting in front of you on the Sooke 61 at 7 a.m. on your way into work, in the lineup at Village Foods or on certain stretches of Sooke Road on a hot summer’s day, depending on which way the wind is blowing.

They are the millions of otherwise law-abiding Canadians from all professions, ages, races, backgrounds and income brackets who choose to smoke marijuana, unhindered by the consequences or the fact that what they do is against the law. Their numbers grow unabated as we attempt to punish them in a system that has already wasted billions fighting a war it cannot win.

There is hope or despair on the horizon, however, depending on your point of view, because last year we finally elected a prime minister who promised to prioritize legalizing something many of us already grow in our gardens.

At the very least, legalization would eliminate a portion of the evil element that currently benefits from the existing hypocrisy. We can use the profits to reduce harm, finance improvements to our health care, our quality of life and education  if we handle the transition with intelligence and foresight.

Unfortunately, it’s too late for Eddie, a former schoolmate with blond, shimmering shoulder length hair, a quiet, keep to himself kind of guy who lived to play his guitar. Eddie was 18 back in the summer of ‘69 when he paid a horrible price for his preference for an occasional puff.

Eddie was sentenced to the max of the day, four to seven years for trafficking, and dispatched to St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary – an institution the most hardened inmates referred to as the brain eater – after he was arrested for selling a couple of joints to an undercover cop at an outdoor concert at a park in Montreal.

He made the mistake of having a drink of water without looking behind him on his first day of incarceration, and someone slammed his face into the fountain, smashing out most of his teeth in the process.

That’s why I pray that Justin gets right to it and, more importantly, gets it right. Eddie and countless others paid the price and had their lives ruined doing something that barely raises an eyebrow nowadays, but is still against the law in our home and native land.

It’s time, Mr. Prime Minister, to get on the pot.

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Rick Stiebel is a Sooke resident and semi-retired journalist.