CANNABIS CULTURE – In all my years of activism working to “free the weed”, I never thought I’d be having to consider how not to get busted when marijuana is legal but here we are.
The Canadian government says it is going to legalize recreational cannabis for adults in Canada on July 1, 2018, but for now we still have a rather hazy view of what exactly that will look like. We’ve heard about a four-plant limit on home gardens and one garden per household and now there are rumours floating about a tax scale of $1 per gram (that’s $28 on an ounce, plus GST/HST). Let’s not forget the extra $274 million the federal government is giving to law enforcement that screams loud and clear arrests will continue.
Some other things that the reader needs to consider in the proposed legislation is driving and cannabis, “contraband marijuana” public use, employment situation, children in the home, plus home and life insurance policies (pay special attention if you are growing indoors).
As you can see the list is long and I’ve barely touched on it.
So what does it all mean and how do you protect yourself?
Driving and Toking
I don’t want to start a debate on if you should but as a long-time professional driver that never “stopped puffing”, I can share a few tips how to avoid issues with the man on the road.
DO NOT toke in the car. Pull over and find a good rest spot if you are on the highway; if you’re in the city, find a quiet mall parking lot or city park to stop at.
Keep some gum handy. Also get some orange- or lemon-type extract; put some in a small spray bottle and use on your fingers after smoking a joint (hand sanitizer works great too). Try not to have stinky dank clothes on.
Keep your stash in the trunk; a weedy-smelling car is probable cause for a search. Use a car air freshener; pick up a few next time you buy gas and crack one if you are coming to a roadblock.
Home Insurance and Rental Restrictions
One of the most difficult aspects of growing your own cannabis today if you are in a rental accommodation is hiding it from your landlord, not always an easy thing to do. Some solutions might be a grow tent or countless other growing tricks, but if you have kids in the home they may try to come after you in other ways such as child abuse. (I know, but it happens.)
**A special note on indoor growing in a home you own**
If you do decide to grow four plants (or 40) in your home, tell nobody! No matter how legal it becomes. When the time comes time to sell your home, you will have to declare a “grow-op” and it becomes nearly impossible to sell your home without tens of thousands in renovations and specialized contractors in mould removal. I know this as it happened to me and I had to sell my home privately. I thought I was protected being a legal medical user but not so.
You could also find yourself with your home insurance policy cancelled and blacklisted from buying insurance, forcing you to sell or transfer ownership of your property.
Because of this it is recommended that as a property owner you grow in a separate detached building such as a garage or shed – this way if there is ever a problem just tear it down, problem solved.
Toking in Public
#Itokeinpublic pretty simple: use your common sense. If nobody is complaining, I’m sure you will be okay as long as you follow provincial and municipal smoking laws. However, single hitters are still great ways to protest and make your opinion obvious while keeping in stealth mode.
At this time I’m not really sure what “contraband cannabis” will legally be defined as; perhaps the government will demand we buy our seeds from an licensed producer or government outlet so they can geo-tag strains to further entrench their monopoly – because make no mistake, that’s exactly what they are trying to set up.
What the government seems to still not understand is that overbearing, heavy-handed regulations and enforcement is what fuels the black market, the very thing they say they want to get rid of. The very statement of $274 million more for law enforcement may as well be saying “this extra tax money will ensure the black market will be around for some time yet”.
When it comes to employment, we’ve all heard by now of people losing their jobs for all kinds of behaviour and photos posted to the Internet as well as employers monitoring their employees social media accounts. Use common sense and make your accounts private, delete them, or open a second account under an assumed name and burner email address. Set up an account for your family and friends, post lots of baby photos or grandma’s birthday pictures, friend your boss on that account.
It’s also a good idea to have a separate email account just for employment purposes that’s tied to these “clean” social media accounts. Avoid wearing T-shirts to work promoting 420 culture or talking politics with your co-workers – stick to sports or swap dirty stories.
These are just a few of the things that will be facing us in the coming years ahead, but make no mistake, when you wake up on July 2, 2018, things are going to be pretty much the same as they are today and I’ll still be enjoying a bowl of good weed with my morning coffee.