Are Canada’s pot-fearing politicians raising children or goats?

Tabatha Southey schools Tory MP Peter Kent on children’s lack of interest in sharecropping, and eating kale-like substances


 
Goats feeding at Teal's Meats in Waterford, Ontario on January 23, 2017. (Photograph by Nick Iwanyshyn)

Is this how some politicians picture Canadian children? (Photograph by Nick Iwanyshyn)

Last week, Quebec’s minister for rehabilitation, youth protection, and public health, Lucie Charlebois, speaking on the talk show Tout le monde en parle, said: “I do not grow cannabis, but my neighbour grows it. If my grandchildren go to my neighbour’s house and inadvertently get into the marijuana plants and eat them, that’s not good.”

Then, this past Tuesday, in the midst of a debate over the Liberal government’s Bill C-45, which will make pot legal, Tory MP Peter Kent told the House of Commons: “Kids today will learn from one another. When it’s legal, despite the … allowable age to consume, kids are going to harvest leaves.”

These days one can understand how someone who knows nothing about marijuana and even less about children might be concerned. As a former nanny and a mother of two and… well… I’d like to offer some reassurance.

RELATED: How big is Canada’s marijuana market, really?

First of all, the kids are going to “harvest” now? That seems like a lot of work. I wonder if Kent also believes that no one just gets their older brother to buy them a bottle of wine anymore because teenagers today are just all about the viticulture. Maybe you get more than six youngsters together on a Friday night in Kent’s mind and you end up being schooled on the risk phylloxera poses to a vine’s root system before the young revellers conclude, “Let’s not go to Jason’s house, his soil is too loamy.”

In my day, you took an inch off the top of all the bottles in your parents’ liquor cabinet, poured it into the Spumante Bambino bottle you emptied the weekend before and you drank that elixir we called “shit mix” and you were guilty-grateful, and yet no one called for prohibition.

I have enough faith in Canadian parents to trust that if a metre-tall plant they were planning on using to get high goes missing, they’ll notice. They will catch on long before that crop is dried and ready for smoking, and I’m willing to bet that if Timmy Teenager makes off with the family herb garden, his parents will be able to handle the situation. Basically, you take your dad’s weed and smoke it, young Timothy, you can look forward to dad showing you what happens to your Xbox when he rolls that up in paper and lights it on fire.

Teenagers will, of course, get their hands on weed. They pretty much always have. That’s part of the point of legalization. Canada tried the whole criminalized marijuana thing for a long time. What we got out of that was (according to a 2013 UNICEF report) the highest rate of cannabis use among young people in the developed world. There’s only so much skating most of us can do. What the government aims to do with Bill C-45 is take some of the resources we’ve historically expended (rather selectively) arresting and jailing people and put them toward educating young people about the good reasons not to smoke pot.

RELATED: Trudeau proposes excise tax on legal marijuana sales

As for Charlebois’s concern that, given the first opportunity, her grandchildren are going to start ravaging her neighbours’ raw pot plants, all I can say is, are you certain those are grandchildren and not goats?

Children don’t generally graze and, if it helps you relax, Canadian parents, fresh marijuana leaves are a terrible way to get high, not toxic and look exactly like the kind of thing you spend hours trying convince your child to eat, to no avail.

It’s almost like there’d be some kind of prize in it for a mother who could get her kid to eat anything that resembled marijuana leaves. Weed is so damn green and wholesome-looking that other mothers would be jealous and resentful if your kid brought it for snack, you show-off.

Marijuana is like kale, but spiky, and there’d be no fancy dressing or toasted nuts on it if they tried to eat it, because very few children left alone in the house say, “Hey! Let’s make a salad!” And anyway, they’d have to pick it before they could do that, and it’s growing in dirt, and absolutely no child ever cried out, “Whoa, my parents aren’t home, let’s play sharecropper!”

Pot looks unappetizing. At best, it’s a garnish. Mostly a marijuana leaf looks like one of those deadly viruses you always see blown up in Time magazine.

(Luis Hidalgo/AP/CP)

Harvesting marijuana. (Luis Hidalgo/AP/CP)

Parents, please don’t worry, you already understand that your child is too smart to fall for kale. They’re not looking for another leafy vegetable. You and I both know your child will just sit across from you with that salad bowl between you and stare at you skeptically while you proclaim kale’s virtues, then he’ll smirk at you when you pretend to like it yourself. Your child will enjoy watching as you go full mime on that kale with “I’m trapped in a glass box, but luckily this kale is so delicious!” Followed by the classic “walking against the kale” routine. His eyes will say, “What’s next, Mum, the Quinoa Dance? You’re pathetic.”

You know what is really dangerous to children, what is responsible for 75 per cent of all poisonings involving American children under five (there’s no Canadian data, but Health Canada issued a warning) and is in millions of Canadian homes? You know what kids really want to eat? They want to eat dishwasher and laundry pods, and could the manufacturers have done a better job of making those things whimsical and enticing?

What exactly necessitated this toxic charm? Adults would use dishwasher tabs if they looked like plastic-warped chihuahua feces. No one wants to do dishes. Appeal to adults can’t be the issue. Did they focus-group those things with three-year-olds before adding another pouch of cheerful Gatorade-coloured liquid? Is someone working on Dishwasher Tab: the Movie? Yet I don’t see government stepping in to grab your tabs. They trust you. The same way they trust you to have alcohol, prescription drugs and actual rat poison in your house—and I’m not afraid to say it, folks, Warfarin looks like a giant green Kit Kat.

RELATED: Legal weed: An accidental solution to the opioid crisis?

Perhaps aware that a few marijuana plants don’t sound like a threat to children—because they’re not—Kent, trying to score points against the Liberals, sidestepped that problem by invoking the spectre of an actual deadly drug crisis affecting the nation. You almost have to respect him for coming up with a comparison so perfectly calibrated to anger all sides of the debate.

“It’s the same, virtually the same as putting fentanyl on a shelf within reach of kids. Having plants in the home, it’s just as wacky, it’s just as unacceptable, it’s just as dangerous for Canadian society.”

Fentanyl, and the opioid crisis as a whole, is currently killing a lot of Canadians. According to the B.C. Coroners Service, between January and April 2017, fentanyl was involved in 368 fatal overdose deaths in British Columbia alone. All across the country, there are many people who have lost friends and family. Exploiting this public-health crisis to argue against legalizing cannabis was impolitic to say the least.

To Kent’s credit, he seems to realize this. Less to his credit, when approached by Manisha Krishnan of Vice for clarification of his remarks, Kent tried to salvage the situation with: “A child under the influence who suffered a fatal accident would be just as dead as if they were negligently given access to fentanyl.”

Thanks for clearing up what dead means and then explaining risk, sir. Coming soon from Kent, “Kids who choke on chicken bones and die are as dead as kids who are shot in the head and die. Ergo, chickens are as deadly as guns.” This will be followed by, “A child who dies trying to eat a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince would be just as dead as a child hurled into the sun. Ergo the works of J.K. Rowling are exactly as deadly as direct contact with the sphere of hot plasma at the centre of our solar system.”

RELATED: Could legal weed revive small towns hit by resource losses?

“I’m quite aware that cannabis is not the equivalent in terms of its deadly opioid content,” Kent said, adding, “THC, if kids consumed it one way or the other, deliberately or accidentally or as a joke, and became intoxicated, they’re just as at risk at home or on the street as they would be—the outcome could be just as deadly.”

The concern he was trying to express, apparently, is: “They could wander into a red-light crosswalk, they could injure themselves with tools or equipment at home, they could have any number of accidents under the influence.”

In Kent’s world, smoking pot makes you want to get out of the house more and finally finish work on those shelves you’ve promising to put up since New Year’s three years ago. It’s like, “Dude, have you ever really looked at a table saw?”

It’s a tragic story, I imagine, and one that in the interest of balance, I’ll pretend we’ve heard many times before. Let’s say it goes like this: child finds his parents’ marijuana plants, child experiments, child develops a whole new strain of cannabis that makes you hyper-motivated and interested in fine woodworking, child leverages this discovery to build an international cannabis empire, buys a private island, handcrafts a villa on it, finally child falls off a dock and drowns so don’t let your kids near your newly legal grow-ops, folks.


 

Are Canada’s pot-fearing politicians raising children or goats?

  1. Do you keep your alcohol and prescription medications out and unattended in your suburban yard? Why not?

    That’s what’s doing to happen when people are encouraged to grow up to 10 pounds each of genetically modified cannabis, a psychotic hallucinogen that has been proven to CAUSE mental illness.

    You don’t think more children will be exposed to it when addicted parents leave it legally lying around their homes?

    • Like most parents, I kept my liquor in a cabinet, my beer and white wine in the fridge and my detergent pods under the kitchen sink.

      Cannabis is a eurphoriant, not a hallucinogen. You can not get 10 pounds from a plant, and even if you could, you would need to harvest it at the right time, trim away all the leaves and dry if for a few days.

      Cannabis does not cause mental illness, but some strains that are high in THC and low in CBD and some important terpenes can trigger psychosis in people so predisposed.

      Even addicted, hallucinating parents do not leave cannabis lying around the house if they think their children might take it. Cannabis isn’t cheap.

      • Oh really!! Read a bit of what the Royal College of Psychologists had to say:
        “Some users may experience psychotic symptoms with hallucinations and delusions lasting a few hours, which can be very unpleasant. Even though these unpleasant effects do not last long, since the drug can stay in the system for some weeks, the effect can be more long-lasting than users realize.
        Long-term use can have a depressant effect and reduce motivation. Some researchers also suggest that long-term use can lead to irreversible, but minor cognitive deficits”.

        • lol, Jerome, from CBC? In any case, you’re conflating the harms of alcohol, with the benefits of Cannabis.

    • 10 lbs each? How big is your back yard. You do know that the only chemically active part of the plane are the buddy and flowers. Simple solution – lock the greenhouse.

    • Do you leave your bottles of beer and hard liquor and wine out and unattended in your house? I sure don’t leave them unattended out in my suburban yard. What about those cigarettes sitting on the kitchen table?

      Just because something bad for you is there doesn’t mean the kids will do it. Neither of my parents smoked, but I started at 17 (quit at 34). Neither of my parents smoked pot, but I started at 15 (quit at 21).

      Maybe we should start issuing parenting licenses to those who wish to become parents? No smokes. No booze. No pot. No drugs. No spankings (oh wait, that might be okay in some instances… uh… hang on…). Honestly, you’re making a huge molehill out of this whole thing.

      And if ‘prescription medication’ was so well guarded, why are there so many overdoses and addictions involving them? A few pot plants in someone’s possession isn’t going to create a new generation of hippies.

    • Four cannabis plants, the proposed limit in Ontario, can produce 10 pounds of GMO cannabis many times stronger than any natural occurring variety.

      Not all people who smoke develop cancer, but it is clearly recognized that smoking causes cancer.

      It has been demonstrated that cannabis use multiplies the risk of developing mental illnesses.

      For those of you who are addicted nothing short of catastrophe will make you recognize the danger of legalization.

      People who aren’t familiar with all the facts before they or their children are harmed.

      Legalization is a really bad idea.

      Read the whole article and then think about it.

      http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsdisorders/cannabis.aspx?theme=mobile

      • Growing outdoors in Canada, one would be lucky to get a quarter pound per plant. There is no such thing as GMO cannabis. Yes, cannabis has been bred to produce more THC than wild cannabis, in much the same way that fruits, vegetables, roses and dogs have been bred for desirable characteristics.

        Dr. Donald Tashkin of UCLA has studied cannabis smoking exhaustively, and concluded that cannabis smokers do not get lung cancer more than abstainers, in fact, there may be a slight protective effect. Further, cannabis can be eaten or vaporized.

        Cannabis that is high in THC and low in CBD (an anti-psychotic), the sort black market cultivators have bred, can trigger psychosis in vulnerable individuals. Alas, sandwich baggies do not have warning labels.

        Canadian teens consume the most cannabis for their age group in the G8, they find cannabis as easy or easier to obtain than alcohol, they are twice as likely to try cannabis than try tobacco and their average age of initiation is 14.

        If cannabis were as addictive as nicotine, as carcinogenic as roasted coffee, as criminogenic as alcohol and as demotivating as smart phones, it would make less sense to abrogate control over this exceptionally dangerous herb to criminals who sell a myriad of drugs of unknown potency, purity and provenance, on commission, tax free, to anyone of any age, anytime, anywhere, no questions asked. We have more control over cat food than we do the so-called “controlled drugs and substances.”

        I suggest readers review the report of the “addicts” of the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs, chaired by the late conservative pothead Pierre Claude Nolin, “Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy.” Spoiler alert: the non-partisan committee unanimously and unambiguously recommended cannabis legalization, the sooner the better.

        • There is a US firm engaged in producing commercial grade genetically modified cannabis. The company is 22nd Century Group ticker symbol XXII. Of course they’re trying to grow cannabis that doesn’t produce THC.

      • So, guns should be unregulated (as you’ve argued before) and you should be able to buy as many as you want — but pot is going to kill all of us and our kids?

        Plenty of people with kids — people with decent careers and who pay their mortgages and taxes — use pot now and have for years. There’s not going to be some crazy, overwhelming flood of reefer use because it’s legal.

        • However, there will be more addicts. I volunteer at an addiction treatment centre and its data is that 30% of the general population are prone to addiction with cannabis. That’s 10% more than are prone to alcohol addiction. And there are many who won’t try a drug that is illegal. So when cannabis is legal, more will try it and more will become addicted.

          • But they WON’t be addicted to opioids , a far more dangerous substance.

          • There are currently 30% more opioid addicts/capita in Colorado than any other state where cannabis is not legal. Colorado which was the first state in the U.S. to legalize cannabis has sited this as a very serious issue.

    • It’s unfortunate to hear that there are still such naively, confounded individuals…

      The psychotic hallucinogen you’re confused by, is actually nutmeg. The stuff you buy in the grocery store, it’s a long time known hallucinogen, just a dangerous one unlike the others.

      Look it up some time.

  2. There’s a problem near the beginning of the article where it states something along the lines that enforcement dollars are going to be shifted to education. HA! Anyone spending time paying attention to what is actually being proposed knows enforcement efforts are being ratcheted up. It’s crazy, but then again we are getting more and more police in our lives; every day. Papers, please!

  3. Fabulous response to Peter Kent, Tabatha! I do have to say, though, that you might have included a little warning about dessert and candy-looking weed treats being left around the house: many parents have proven they cannot be trusted to use good judgement!

    • The Overprotective Parent:
      Those who don’t want it in the hands of children, yet they probably have alcohol and prescription drugs in the fridge, cupboard and on the counter and table, not realizing that those can kill their children and cannabis cannot.

  4. Goats…Children. Either way they’ll be high. Trudeau will need voters high to achieve a 2nd term.

    • Interesting take on goats. Cannabis can be used in many forms. Am not a proponent and have accidentally inhaled the weed in my youth at house parties. This plant has been revered in many cultures over the past 4 to 5000 years. Marijuana is as ancient as the Egyptian pyramids and yet not named as the eighth wonder in the world although fits the description were it so. Its medicinal significance scares the bejeebers out of the pharma pants. Given the right amount of proper decentralization of the elusive compounds present in this plant. It can heal many illnesses. Children need to be taught of its origin and positive uses. All or most humans not counting robots have been subjected to fake news. This must change. The bank to keep the wealth generated by this cash cow should be named Canadian Bank of Cannabis. Just saying.

    • The healthiest thing you can do, is juice (eat) Cannabis, with plenty of omega’s and cannabinoids…

      Best of all, it’s NON-psychoactive – without being decarboxylated!

  5. This will sound like a backhanded compliment, but Southey’s writing is better here than her stuff in the Globe. Less editorial interference? More?

    The hand-wringing about pot is ridiculous — as she points out, there are far more dangerous things that kids get into all the time.

    • You should read the tripe she wrote about Jordan Peterson. 95% of the comments thought she was smoking something bad-probably was!!

  6. This excellent article proves that the propaganda machine that creates the need for prohibition is crumbling under the weight of its own lies. The author has written a brilliant article that exposes the “What about the children” red-herring for what it is, a shoddy excuse to continue criminalizing millions of Canadians for consuming a substance that’s safer than caffeine.

    And at least, unlike many commenters, the author actually knows something about cannabis that doesn’t come from a website dedicated to propagating anti-cannabis propaganda. She also understands children enough to know that they’re far more likely to eat a detergent pod than a cannabis leaf. Also that cannabis leaves cannot alter your mind unless processed and heated.

    Cannabis is already everywhere and there’s been no epidemic of kids eating it. And if they do get their hands on an edible due to sloppy parenting the outcome will be a child who slept for a long time, not a dead kid like the ones who munch on philodendrons or all the other truly toxic house plants. Oh, yeah, I forgot, kids don’t eat house plants, they eat things that look like junk food, thus the detergent pod near-epidemic.

    • The web site referenced by ROBMISEK isn’t a propaganda site. It’s a publication by The Royal College of Psychologists which bases its comments on studies not hearsay.

      • It was “psychologists” who created and then supported the concept of homosexuality as a mental illness. That led to the institutionalized criminalization of gays. So it’s not a surprise that there are prohibitions psychologists. But there are likely more psychologists who use cannabis. I’ve smoked with a few at parties.

        • Make that ‘prohibitionist’ psychologists.

          BTW, psychology is hardly a science, it’s more like a consensus of opinion.

        • Great work in setting Jerome straight.

          • Keep smokin’ up Jason-it’s already starting to show its affect on your intellect.
            According to The American Medical Association, ” Clinical psychologists assess, diagnose, and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Clinical psychologists help people deal with problems ranging from short-term personal issues to severe, chronic conditions.”

  7. The biggest losers in legalization will be Big Pharma . About half the junk they sell can be replaced by natural cannabis . Second biggest losers should be the legal system lawyers and police . About half their business was chasing low lever pot users and dealers around . Most of the scary rhetoric is based in these two groups I think , trying to protect their turf . This old guy can’t wait to try a brownie some evening if I’m feeling anxious .

  8. As many have clarified during the recent meetings in parliament, the recreational drugs alcohol and tobacco are “more dangerous than any illegal drug”

    Gabor Mate being just one of them:
    https://youtu.be/8pqRn34kqX4

    • I trust you noticed that he warned the listeners that the consumption of cannabis starting in the teens can have very serious developmental as well as mental health effects. In terms of developmental effects, data at the addiction treatment center where I volunteer shows those who started using cannabis in their teens and continued had 15 point lower I.Q.’s And for about 20% of those, their usage induced paranoia, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
      So, while it may be more harmful to be a heavy smoker or drinker, heavy cannabis users run high risks as well.

  9. Raw cannabis contains THCA, a non-psychoactive carboxylic acid. It has to be processed with heat to turn it into THC, which is psychoactive. Eating raw pot does very little.

    The article asserts that no one likes doing dishes: I do, and I don’t like the job the dishwasher device does (they don’t come clean since they cleaned up the detergent phosphates).

  10. The outcome was predictible long ago.

    [ http://www.globalcommissionondrugs.org/21-april-2016-global-commission-slams-ungass-2016-outcome-that-strains-the-credibility-of-international-law/ ]

    21 April 2016: Global Commission Slams UNGASS 2016 Outcome That Strains the Credibility of International Law

    « The system is punishing itself.

    If states start cheating at the margins, it erodes the effort to have a cohesive system. » Spoken by Louise Arbour, high-profile UN insider.

    Translation, if adults can’t trust self-serving politicians after an obvious money grab, then what of the lost statistically-ellusive children of planet Itnoc??

    In The Name Of Children!

    Precisely…

  11. February 2016 Federal Court Decision #Allard v. #Canada
    Co-counsel Kirk Tousaw said “Basically we won, and it was a complete victory,” and “We proved that growing medical #cannabis can be perfectly safe, and can be done completely in compliance with the law and people ought to have a right to do that without fear of being arrested and locked in cages for that activity.” and “The lessons I think are pretty obvious. If you can grow cannabis for yourself for medical purposes safely and with no risk for the public, surely, you can grow cannabis for yourself for non-medical purposes safely and with no risk to the public,”
    Also of interest is,
    Dr. Susan C. Boyd, a B.C. researcher’s book “Killer Weed: Marijuana Grow Ops, Media and Justice”. about how law enforcement and media are not telling the facts.
    Google Dr. Susan C. Boyd’s “Reefer madness is governmental”
    Dr. Susan C. Boyd is a member of Liberal government “Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation”