Live Well, Do Good

Things to Keep in Mind on 4/20

Brandon Sun, April 20, 2015 - David McConkey

Happy 4/20, everyone! Now you may be thinking: what the heck is “4/20”? Well, 4/20 means that it is the time for marijuana!

Why “4/20”? The expression comes from 1970s California. Apparently some stoners smoked up at 4:20 in the afternoon. Like, um, whatever.

Today, though, the term 4/20 is firmly established. The time (4:20 p.m.) and the date (April 20) are known as occasions to celebrate all things cannabis. As well, 4/20 is an opportunity for citizens to advocate for the legalization of marijuana.
To observe 4/20, crowds gather today at places like the grounds of the Manitoba legislative building. They smoke pot: openly, peacefully, responsibly. The police are there, too: being friendly, standing back, simply watching. What about that? Marijuana legalization works!
Legalization of marijuana – both recreationally and medicinally – is increasingly accepted. Globally, former drug warriors are calling for legalization. In the U.S., legalization is going ahead in states like Colorado. And in Canada, legalization is politically hot. Remember the 2013 Brandon-Souris byelection? Pot was such a big topic that I thought we could have dubbed it the Marijuana Byelection.
Marijuana legalization makes sense: the War on Drugs is a massive failure. Prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s did not work. Prohibition of drugs today does not work either. Both the Green and Liberal parties are tuned into this reality. In our byelection, however, we saw a big generation gap. In Brandon, every poll went Liberal – except those located in seniors’ residences.     

So I would like to say something to my fellow seniors: we don’t have to be so out of touch! Do we want our tax dollars spent on arresting, putting on trial, and jailing people – just for using marijuana? Consider our beer, wine or rye. Pot is definitely less harmful than the alcohol we drink.
As well, seniors: we don’t have to be grumpy old fuddy-duddies! We elders can get in on the fun, too. I aspire to be a baby boomer with zip, or – as we say – a “zoomer”! So, I subscribe to Zoomer magazine, published by the Canadian Association of Retired Persons.
In a recent issue of the magazine, an article pointed out that we seniors are no longer simply getting by. Instead, we are getting stylish, we are getting it on, and we are getting high.
“These days,” the article said, “cannabis also has as many vintages and subtleties as fine wine.” And, as the article noted helpfully, pot “doesn’t blunt your response the way too much alcohol can.”
On the medicinal front, marijuana is proving very useful in treating a variety of physiological and psychological conditions. Pot is being heralded as a new wonder drug, the Aspirin of the 21st century.

One very promising use for marijuana is as a gateway medication. Pot can be used to help people wean themselves off dangerous addictive drugs like alcohol, painkillers or crystal meth.

I think this gateway concept could become a major benefit of marijuana. I see this as especially good for the reduction of harm and violence associated with alcohol. Just think of women in abusive relationships. Wouldn’t it be better to have these women confronted by a partner who is mellow and high? Rather than aggressive and drunk?
Remember, though, that legalization of marijuana does not mean that everybody must get stoned. Legalization means that those adults who wish to partake, could do so. As well, legalization means that we could fully explore and take advantage of the medicinal benefits.

Like alcohol or tobacco now, legalized marijuana would be regulated, taxed, and kept out of the hands of children. Educational programs would encourage responsible use. Penalties would be imposed for using it irresponsibly, like when driving.
So, this afternoon at 4:20 – or anytime, really – why not take a moment to celebrate marijuana? Take a moment to learn more about it. Take a moment to dream of an end to the War on Drugs. You might even take a moment to actually take a toke. (With this last activity, be careful if you are a member of a racial minority – the War on Drugs is very racially biased.)

What do you call it? Marijuana? Cannabis? Or perhaps pot, grass or weed? Whatever it is, get more accustomed to reading about it. And – who knows? – you may even become more familiar with using it!
Today is 4/20 – have a good one, eh?

* * * 

See also:

Reflections on the War on Drugs

Remember Lesson of History on International Women's Day

Retired Brandon Judge Speaks Out

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