Cannabis Culture recommends Marilyn Churley for the Monday, January 23rd Canadian general election in the Toronto-Beaches riding!
Ms. Churley is our kind of candidate! She advocates having legal controlled and taxed marijuana distribution system in a speech in the Ontario legislature on April 7th 2005. Marilyn Churley resigned her seat in the Ontario legislature to run federally in the Beaches riding. We think she’s very brave and very thoughtful. Urge your Toronto friends and family to vote for Marilyn Churley and other excellent Toronto NDP candidates like Jack Layton and Olivia Chow.
Read our excerpt below, concluding with a wonderful hashish beverage recipe by Ms. Churley! It?s a great speech, entertaining and informative, and 100% supportive of legalization. Or, you can read her statement here, which includes all the ‘hard-on-grow-ops’ Conservative and Liberal statements in the Ontario legislature.
Ms. Churley: … I appreciate, as we all do, the minister taking the time from his busy schedule to stay in the Legislature and listen to our comments.
I want to follow up on the comments made last week by our critic in the area, the member from Niagara, who had a whole hour and had a whole lot of fun with the bill, although he gave some extremely serious criticism as to why this bill is not going to be able to do what the minister hopes it will do.
I just have to say this at the beginning because my brother was an RCMP officer. He’s retired now. He got in very young, as many do, and retired relatively young, and continues to work in enforcement in various ways. I remember just recently, when the tragic incident happened where four RCMP officers were slaughtered, and we were first told on the news that it was the result of a grow operation, and we of course consequently found out that in that case it wasn’t. The situation that happened was so tragic and so awful that it hardly matters whether it was a grow-op or not. It did highlight for a short period of time when we all thought it was a grow-op, how dangerous those places can be.
As it turned out in this case, we were dealing, as we found out, with a sociopath type of personality who clearly, from what we’ve seen about his past, should have been jailed or dealt with far more vehemently than he had been. Nonetheless, certainly any of us who have, or have had, relatives in the law enforcement business, every time – and those people in particular, like my brother. Our heart leaps to our throat because we’ve been close enough, as I have, to family members in that area who have had close calls of their own.
I mention that simply because, even though in this case it was not a grow-op, as it turned out, we are all aware that grow-ops are a problem, and a huge problem for all of the reasons that have been outlined by the minister and others. I don’t think there is any disagreement among all of the parties that they are a problem. There are disagreements about the best way to deal with it, and rather big disagreements particularly between New Democrats and Conservatives, and I expect Liberals have different opinions on where the whole marijuana debate should go, given the federal bill that’s before the House now, where they’re embarked on a pretty clear course of decriminalization, and where that leads us. As our member, our critic in the area from Niagara, Peter Kormos, said, that clearly leads to the next step: looking at controlling and regulating it.
As has been pointed out, this really comes down to criminal activity. You separate out to some extent what the views are around marijuana and the usage of marijuana because the fact is, there are a lot of people using it and will continue to use it, and will get it any way they can. That’s what’s happening; we all know that. And because of the way it’s dealt with now – it’s completely illegal – criminals, and hard-core in many cases, are the ones who are controlling and regulating this substance and making a lot of money off it, stealing power from communities and causing dangerous, unhealthy atmospheres. We sometimes read after busts about children who are living in these grow-ops. It’s a criminal activity that is very hard to get at.
Just outlining my position on this, I totally agree that we have to deal with the grow-ops and find a way to lessen the criminal activity involved in it. This is not going to do it. Reportedly this bill is supposed to make it easier for police to dismantle and prosecute marijuana grow operations, but when you look at the bill, it really is smoke and mirrors. You’ve got to ask what the minister was smoking when he came up with this bill, because it tends to change very little, and the few changes that are in it don’t really make that much of a difference to the present situation.
The bill is primarily for PR purposes. The government knows that the public wants to see something done about crime and wants to see something done about grow-ops. This is one of those bills where you put it forward – others have said this – and talk up the best you can all the pieces in it that are going to make the changes and allow people to believe that it’s really going to make a difference. But when you look at the bill, when you examine it closely, you will see that it’s not going to do that. It inappropriately puts part of the responsibility of detecting and dealing with marijuana grow operations on to safety inspectors and electricity distributors, rather than focusing more on effective policing-based solutions.
It has been said by my colleagues, and it will be said again, that what we’re not seeing is what the government promised in the election campaign, and that was to put 1,000 new cops on the street. We’re not seeing that happen.
There are other parts of the legislation that are overly broad and could be applied to things other than their intended uses. Maximum fines for violation of the Building Code Act are doubled, but these fines are not limited to violations related to grow-ops and can apply to any violation of the code. It could include things like improper sewage systems, letting the public into the building too early etc., and could be unduly punitive and broad in these cases. There are a number of other parts as well that I think have been clearly defined by others in this House.
I want to get to some of the solutions to the problem, given that my contention here is that this is not going to solve the problem. I hate to say it, but I don’t know if the minister has read this from the Fraser Institute. I don’t often quote the Fraser Institute. I know you, Mr. Speaker, and your party quote the Fraser Institute from time to time. I don’t often agree with them. I have to say that this really surprised me because the Fraser Institute, a very right-wing, conservative think-tank, actually says to legalize it. That one goes further than some of the lefties out there. Let me quote from what the Fraser Institute’s Professor Stephen Easton argues.
Mr. Chudleigh: They’re academics, not real conservatives.
Ms. Churley: Oh, the Conservatives are saying these are academics, not real conservatives. OK. You make that distinction when you don’t agree with them, but when you agree with them, they’re real Conservatives.
Let me read to you what this academic from the Fraser Institute says about marijuana growth in BC:
“This paper raises several issues that have the cumulative effect of suggesting that in the long term, the prohibition on marijuana cannot be sustained with the present technology of production and enforcement. To anyone with even a passing acquaintance with modern history, it is apparent that we are reliving the experience of alcohol prohibition of the early years of the last century … the broader social question becomes less about whether we approve or disapprove of local production, but rather who shall enjoy the spoils. As it stands now, growers and distributors pay some of the costs and reap all of the benefits of the multi-billion dollar marijuana industry, while the non-marijuana-smoking taxpayer sees only costs.”
That is directly from an academic conservative who wrote for the Fraser Institute, and I think it sums up the problem we’re facing here.
I listened to some of the speeches in the House. I look around, and some of them aren’t here. I’m certainly not going to name names, so don’t get worried. But some members stand up on their hind legs and are just incredibly self-righteous and pious. They talk about how bad marijuana use is and they should all be thrown in jail etc. Well, I’ve seen some of those members in certain circumstances drunk as skunks, from time to time. It’s been legal. I haven’t seen them get in a car and drive, so I’m not criticizing. It’s legal in our society, as long as you don’t hurt anybody else, to go to a party or whatever, drink alcohol, stagger around and do whatever. I have seen members in this House from time to time in that state, but that’s OK because it’s legal. Well, let’s not get too pious about that. Let’s not get too self-righteous about that.
There is an overwhelming amount of evidence – and I’m not saying any drug, including alcohol. We know the incredible harm that alcohol can cause to humans, both financially and psychologically: the breakup of marriage, drunk driving, fights, kids; you name it. It’s an incredibly harmful substance, like tobacco. But because it was legalized, for whatever reason – because people liked it and were using it anyway, somewhat as the Fraser Institute said is happening with marijuana right now – society agreed that every method they tried to bring in to stop the sale and to ban these illegal substances, particularly alcohol, was not working; just as the Fraser Institute said that marijuana is a multi-billion-dollar industry controlled by crime and that society in general does not reap any benefits from it but in fact pays the price.
I was looking today at another article about the possible medical benefits of marijuana. I don’t know if any of you have friends who are licensed. Eventually that got taken care of, but it took a long time. I have a friend, James Wakeford, and some others who are living with AIDS and were finally licensed. There are all kinds of illnesses that we now know about, and the federal government allows them to smoke marijuana to help with their symptoms. But they were put in a position where they had to go and buy it from the biker down the street or downtown or wherever, because there was no legal way to get it. What a ridiculous position. Also, I think my friend James was arrested, or at least threatened with arrest, for growing his own, even though he was ill and was allowed to smoke it, because it was still illegal to grow it. He didn’t want to go out there and deal with crime. He was growing his own quite openly and was at least threatened with arrest.
I was reading a very interesting article today – I don’t know if anybody here saw it – in the Globe and Mail. “Not Ready for ‘A Joint a Day'” is the title of this article. They’ve just done some initial tests on mice, and it says:
“Low doses of the main active ingredient in marijuana slowed the progression of hardening of the arteries in mice, suggesting a hint for developing a new therapy in people.
“Experts stressed that the finding does not mean people should smoke marijuana in hopes of getting the same benefit,” at least at this point.
“‘…”A joint a day will keep the doctor away,” I think is premature,’ said Dr. Peter Libby.”
Mr. Patten: It’s worth a try.
Ms. Churley: Mr. Patten says, “It’s worth a try.” Hey, if it can keep the arteries from hardening – “chief of cardiovascular medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.”
Then he goes on to talk about what the study showed. But it just makes me aware, and we all should be aware, of what an incredibly dangerous drug culture we live in.
My colleague Peter Kormos, for fun, read into the record the other day a recipe for majoun. I travelled in Morocco when I was a young woman and actually came face to face on some occasions with majoun. He read into the record what it is and how to make it.
You mix up a quarter ounce of the tops, just the tops, of cannabis sativa -I believe that’s the flowery part – of the sweetest kif you can get, crumbled, stems and seeds removed, a cup of chopped dates, half a cup of raisins, half a cup of ground walnuts, a teaspoon of ground nutmeg, a teaspoon of aniseed, a teaspoon of dried ginger, half a cup of honey, half a cup of water – use more if needed – and two tablespoons of melted butter or ghee.
It even tells you how to cook it. It says, “In a dry skillet, toast the marijuana over very low heat until it begins to release an aroma. Combine it with the dried fruit, walnuts, spices, honey and water and cook until the ingredients are soft. Remove to a heavy bowl and mash the pulp until the ingredients are well blended, or put into a food processor and blend, using several short pulses. Add the butter and stir until blended. Spoon into a jar and store in the refrigerator. Serve on crackers, eat by the fingerful or use as a filling for mamoul.”
I remember when I came face to face with this as I was traveling around Morocco. There was chocolate, sometimes, mixed in with this fruit as well, which I hear could make it extremely delicious. When people started to eat it, because of the chocolate in it, one of the problems was that, because of the impact of the marijuana, they couldn’t stop eating it. You just kept wanting to eat. I’ve been told that’s what happened.
The reason I bring this up – this was many years ago, when I was a young woman traveling around – is the difference in cultures. I don’t think it was necessarily legal, although it might have been over there, but it was a complete reversal of our societal attitude toward alcohol and marijuana. I’m just giving you this information to illustrate how different it can be.
In Morocco, I was stunned to see and find out that everybody ate majoun. They had their little sipsis with sweet kif at the end of them – their little pipes – and sat around in caf?s smoking it. It was pretty much part of normal life. But alcohol was frowned upon and illegal. I remember the perversity – it’s just the opposite of what we see here – of some local people coming to me and some of the Westerners who lived there at the time and asking if we could go and buy them a bottle of wine. We would meet in some dark corner somewhere and I would hand it over. I would get nothing in return. Don’t think there was any exchange going on; I would do it as a favour.
I’m not kidding. It’s the complete reverse of what happens over here in the Western world with marijuana. The bottles would be hidden under the djellaba, and off they’d go. It just goes to show that where you have a prohibition on a drug, there’s much more likelihood that it’s going to be used in an unwise way. There’s no control over it whatsoever. People are sneaking around, like they are now, with marijuana. It is not in any way controlled or regulated by the government.
I see that my time is rapidly running out here. I just have to end with this. The legislation before us is not going to stop this problem. It’s hardly going to make a dent in it. We have to look at what they’re doing on the federal level. I support what they’re doing but I believe that we cannot stop there. The next step is for the government to start controlling it and regulating it. That would stop the criminal element, it would regulate it properly and it would increase the revenue for the government by many billions of dollars, I believe. I hear Mr. Klees sighing. But if you look at the evidence and read the Fraser report, the Fraser Institute agrees with me on this.