CANNABIS CULTURE – Elmer the Safety Elephant is now protecting the Ontario people from the growing availability of bongs. He’s the mascot of powerful lobby group Ontario Safety League (OSL), who have launched a campaign to eliminate bong sales at convenience stores.
The league says they are alarmed at the growing number of corner stores carrying bongs. I spoke with the spoke with the organization’s CEO Brian Patterson for Cannabis Culture, and he told me, “I don’t think they should be sold. Especially at convenience stores. People ought not to be shocked [going into convenience stores].”
Patterson was shocked this summer. He recalls dipping into a corner store to buy a lighter for his cigar after a golf game. Patterson thought he found a great lighter, but the item turned out to be a Solo pipe. The experience caused him to look further into bong sales.
I swear on my journalism and creative writing diplomas I didn’t make that story up. I couldn’t even make it up if I tried.
Patterson put the OSL’s Ontario network to work and 50 bongs were purchased from corner stores around the province. It looked a little unusual because a mid-size business, Big Bee has a prominent display of pipes and has 50 locations across Ontario.
We asked Patterson if they found any particular chain store selling them. “No. No. Convenience stores across the province,” but he wasn’t prepared to name them.
Typical of prohibitionist’s zeal, an OSL press release claims bongs are sold, “right beside candy, milk and magazines.”
Confused by the above answer and truly thinking this chain was targeted, we asked, “Did you make purchases at a chain store? In particular Big Bee.”
His reply was vague: “The only chain was in St. Catharines and Cornwall.”
When we asked to name the chain, he refused.
Then he asked, perplexed, “Where do you draw the line?”
“How about the head shops?” I inquired.
“I don’t think they should be sold at all,” he politely replies, “but the issue is at convenience stores. People ought not to be shocked.”
Thankfully, as the head of a 100 year-old Ontario automobile safety organization, Patterson has stepped up to put an end to this shock!
“At the end of the day it’s drug paraphernalia,” he says. They’ve gone well beyond their mandated car safety because “stores selling these items are sending our kids the message that drug use is acceptable.”
Typical of prohibitionists who want to amp up the fear, Ontario Safety League goes for the gusto of ballsy statements by putting cannabis and crack in the same sentence in their press release: “decorated with marijuana leaves and are clearly intended for smoking illegal drugs, like hash, marijuana and crack cocaine.”
We asked, “Did you specifically say the pipe purchased was going to be used for crack or marijuana?”
His response was again vague, “Let’s end the nudge-nudge wink wink. Something with a marijuana leaf is not, I think, for tobacco.”
Stores don’t know what you intend to do with their goods once they are sold, and we asked the Ontario Convenience Stores Association if their members were selling crack pipes, as OSL alleges, but they didn’t return our email questions.
Instead they were too busy doing damage control, by agreeing with the OSL. Does that mean the Ontario Convenience Stores Association members were unknowingly selling crack and marijuana pipes?
League president Brian Patterson said his intention was to “enable drug use”, but when I buy a bong my intention is strictly medical.
Ontario Safety League has some serious heft behind their Not At My Store campaign. Ancient Ontario Liberal (not to be confused with the federal Liberals) MPP Monte Kwinter said, “We need to protect our kids from the easy availability of drug paraphernalia.” And I guess Justin Trudeau?
Apparently, “Police departments across the province are actively dealing with the issue of drug paraphernalia,” president of Ontario Police Association Paul Cook claims in the press release.
Canada does have an anti-bong law, but it hasn’t been enforced. Until recently! It all started with Winnipeg RCMP swooping in and clearing out bong shops. Then Chad’s 420 was pinched by local RCMP unit in Prince Rupert and now it appears Ontario convenience stores are next.
Unless they stop selling bongs. Which it appears they might do. Responding to the massive amount of media, the organization representing 7500 convenience store retailers supports OSL efforts. Ontario Convenience Stores Association has signed the petition because they want to sell beer not bongs.
To quote MPP Kwinter something “much more sinister” is at play when it comes putting pressure on convenience stores. Many convenience stores are owned by a segment of society who have commonly felt prohibition’s stings.
It could be argued this is going to happen to them again. But Patterson says, “I don’t want to see people charged. This is a public education campaign to help store owners.”
Adding, “At the end of the day it’s drug paraphernalia and we have an education campaign to see it gone from these stores.”
However, the OSL press release has veiled threats from Superintendent Ron Taverner, Chair, Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police Substance Abuse Committee: “The bongs, pipes and grinders collected from these stores may be illegal.”
They either are or they aren’t. There’s no may be in law. Unless you’re suggesting the law might be unsound. After all Toronto Police Service gave me back my bong.
Pointing out there’s a law against bongs that hasn’t been enforced properly, Patterson says, “The law needs to be enforced. You will find over the next few weeks enforcement.”