HALIFAX – Vancouver has always been the hotbed of marijuana activism in Canada, but now a group of Nova Scotians is hoping to revive the campaign for looser cannabis laws, not with public protests and civil disobedience, but with a familiar East Coast export: music.
A 10-member, underground rock band that calls itself the Indus Guys – or In Disguise – has launched a new website promoting a series of original songs singing the praises of pot, as well as a political plea for Canadians to call their MPs and demand an end to 81-years of marijuana prohibition.
Drop a Quarter, Make a Change, says the website, suggesting that pot-users across the country make anonymous calls to their MPs from public pay phones. (In some parts of Canada pay phones are actually 50 cents.)
“A lot of people are afraid to come forward and say anything because their jobs are at risk, or any of the other repercussions that happen as a result of admitting anything to do with marijuana,” says the band’s leader and guitarist, who goes by the name George W. Kush.
“We’re trying to make some noise, in a very nice, polite, intelligent way,” he says. “We’re saying to people, ‘Go call your MP. Put a quarter in a pay phone so he doesn’t know who you are, and make sure you tell him your contribution to society, whether you’re a ditchdigger or a lawyer, or a tradesman.’
“Make the politicians aware of exactly who they’re hurting with these prohibition laws.”
The band includes at least one professional East Coast musician, a concert promoter, a senior-care worker, an architect, a mining engineer and an avionics draftsman, among others.
Some, including Kush, have previous criminal records for cannabis cultivation.
A 2002 Senate report said Canadians use about 770,000 kilograms of marijuana every year. It said billions of government dollars have been spent trying to enforce the prohibition on marijuana, to little effect, and it urged the federal government to legalize, tax and regulate the cultivation and sale of cannabis, in the same way governments regulate alcohol.
Canada’s police chiefs have condemned the proposal.
Kush says he doesn’t expect any such changes to come under the Harper government, which has introduced legislation to toughen up jail sentences even for small-time marijuana growers. But he says once the Conservatives leave office, a new government may be more sympathetic, so the time to start pushing for action is now.
“We need a national referendum on prohibition,” he says.
Kush and his mates have written and recorded a marijuana music list that includes titles such as Fields of Dreams, The Song That Got Me Outta Jail, and Farmer’s Prayer.
The website even shows photos and videos of the band in action – decked out in camouflage, fake beards and bandanas, with their drum set and guitars and electric amps – playing in a field of shoulder-high cannabis crops, secretly sown on a patch of clear-cut timberland in rural Nova Scotia.
Kush says the group had some nervous moments making the video.
“We were sitting there with our amps and drums – stuff you can’t run away with very easily – and we saw a (government) chopper come flying over. So we all stopped, looking up with our beards and disguises on. It was a little nerve-racking.
“If they’d seen us, they probably would have chuckled – chuckled us right off to jail.”
– Article from the Canwest News Service.
Read more about the Indus Guys in Cannabis Culture #74, available in March.