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Sunday 26 May 2024

17 October Looms High
David Simmonds

I just can’t get excited about the new pot legislation that extends the right to downgrade your sobriety level¸ voluntarily.

Legal marijuana is sensible

I accept that you can’t legislate against the human condition. We’ve already gone through that with alcohol. Recognizing widespread marijuana use as a fact seems to be sensible.

I won’t be doing any cartwheels on 17 October 2018, the date upon which pot becomes legal, just as I have never celebrated 20 April, the date upon which pot freedom advocates around the world light up. It sure has sucked a lot of time and energy from the public agenda.

As an aside, please note that 20 April is the birthday of Adolf Hitler. It’s not a day to celebrate, unless you’re a Neo-Nazi, say. Worth noting is what the annual world light up day shares.

What does interest me a little is how marijuana will weave into our social fabric, once legalised. For instance, it has become the norm to offer wine, with dinner, when you have guests; are you expected to offer a joint to all concerned after dessert as well. Must you bring your hosts a replacement dose, all nicely wrapped up in a gift bag, to replenish their inventory?

You won’t be to smoke pot in a public place, but you can smoke marijuana in a private residence, which includes a porch, balcony or backyard. That makes it entirely conceivable that if the wind blows the wrong way, I could download some fumes from my neighbour and have no reason to complain. I guess that’s the price of tolerance.

Just what will be acceptable marijuana use in public? Suppose you are at a funeral and some speaker has just raised a telling point about the virtues of the deceased. For some reason, this strikes the person in front of you as incredibly funny and she bursts out in a fit of giggles. Is such an outburst tolerable because she allayed her grief with a dose of legal cannabis?

How will Ontario cannabis store employees get to know their product?

Is it now going to be acceptable for Ian Hanomansing to read the national news with a big goofy grin on his face because it is legal for him to put himself in that position? Can employers insist on testing for marijuana use and fire those who test positive? If so, how will Ontario Cannabis Store employees obtain the experience that qualifies them for the job?

What also interests me, as it affects legal marijuana use, is the extent to which the corporate world sees opportunity in the legislative change. You can’t open the business section of the paper these days without some new tale of corporate intrigue involving buyouts, takeovers and mergers as everyone jockeys for the position of Big Dog in the marijuana business.

I fear the barrage of commercial tie-ins. For instance, it won’t initially be legal to sell marijuana infused food. What is to stop some entrepreneur from offering a marijuana-flavoured potato chip having a chemically derived taste but no actual cannabis? One company is already selling a pretend marijuana-flavoured chocolate covered toffee called Cannabis Crunch. If chipmakers can make a ketchup-flavoured chip, an ersatz pot chip should be a piece of cake. What will come after that: breakfast cereals? Will there have to be a special adult-only section in the Foodland to cater to potheads?

Some companies are playing to the phenomenon that marijuana consumption triggers food cravings. For example, Hershey Canada has just introduced a special edition chocolate bar known as the Oh Henry 4:25. It doesn’t contain any marijuana, real or simulated, and thereby sidesteps cannabis rules; but it is for the marijuana user. “Specially formulated for the intense hunger that hits five minutes after 4:20,” says the pitch in a thinly disguised reference to April 20. To leave no doubt about its intentions, Hershey launched the special bar at a make-believe pot dispensary. It is entirely coincidental that Hershey Canada’s former plant in Smiths Falls is now a large marijuana factory.

Hersey explains that it sees the forthcoming legalization as a “huge cultural moment.” “We didn’t want to be on the periphery; we wanted to be part of the event,” says its senior director of marketing.

17 October 2018 won’t pass quietly.

That marketing-speak is exactly what I’m railing against. I don’t see 17 October as a huge cultural moment. I see it as a date upon which we reluctantly acknowledge our collective frailty and give a whole bunch of people a new opportunity to cash in. It should pass quietly, but I suspect it won’t.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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