O, Canada!

[ Posted Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 – 16:31 UTC ]

Our neighbor to the north made some big news today, as Canada is now the largest country in the world where marijuana can be freely bought, sold, possessed, grown, and used by all of its adult citizens. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has now made good on one of his big campaign promises, and today Canadians from coast to coast began legally purchasing recreational marijuana for the first time since it was outlawed.

In related news: the sun still rose in Canada's east, the sky did not actually fall down, people did not riot in the streets, fire and brimstone did not rain down on the populace, and life as Canadians knew it beforehand went on as usual. Canada is proving by example that marijuana legalization does not mean (as its critics would have you believe) the end of civilization as we know it. Far from it.

What it does mean is that Canadians now don't have to worry about being searched, arrested, fined, or even jailed because they are in possession of a simple plant. They can drive from one end of their grand and beautiful country to the other with marijuana in their car, and they now don't have to worry that their car will be confiscated if a police officer finds it. Their lives will not be upended because they enjoy smoking a little weed.

It also means that they still should fear drastic legal consequences for driving under the influence of cannabis, but that was true before legalization took effect. It also means it will be illegal to provide marijuana to children, but again, that was also true yesterday as well (just as it is with alcohol).

The only remaining legal consequences just for smoking pot will be at the Canadian/U.S. border. Bringing marijuana across the border is still illegal, of course. Even if a Canadian travels from British Columbia to Washington state. Washington has legal adult recreational marijuana as well, but this is true only on the state level. And the border is under federal control, where it remains just as illegal as it has been.

There is one frightening possibility at the border, but we'll have to see whether this fear becomes reality or not. Federal immigration law states that anyone who has any history of consuming substances deemed illegal by the U.S. can be barred from entry. Also, lying to an immigration officer is illegal, too, and carries severe consequences. So if the border agents ask Canadians: "Have you ever smoked pot?" and if the honest answer is: "Yes," the Canadian will then face a Catch-22 situation. If they admit to smoking pot, their right to enter the U.S. could be revoked. If they don't and it's a lie, they are liable for the crime of lying to an immigration agent. The only legally correct answer to the question is in fact no answer at all -- the Canadian should refuse to answer, immediately turn around, and head back into Canada. [Note: United States citizens won't have to worry about this border scenario -- as long as they resist the urge to bring back some sweet Canuck buds when re-entering the U.S., of course -- because American citizens cannot be denied entry to the U.S. on the same grounds, plain and simple.]

Again, it remains to be seen whether this scenario will in fact happen on any sort of regular basis or not. But the feds would be entirely justified to refuse entry to anyone who admits to smoking pot in their entire lives, under current law. This just goes to show the disparity between the sane and reasonable legal system now in place in Canada and our own antediluvian and Draconian federal laws.

Canada's marijuana legal reform is another big nail in the coffin for the American-led War On Weed. Fearmongering about marijuana works best when the public is uninformed. But over the decades since it was deemed illegal, the public has become much more savvy. Government propaganda films like Reefer Madness have been laughed at since at least the 1960s. Once the 60s took place, millions upon millions of Americans tried smoking pot. Those people have all now gown up and are currently senior citizens. This means that just about everyone alive today in America has been exposed in some fashion to marijuana, at some point in their lives. Whether they've actually tried it or not, they almost certainly went to school with plenty of people who did, and they've seen for themselves the realities of marijuana (both good and bad). This personal knowledge has been growing, as preceding generations have died off, and is now almost universal. With a populace with such personal knowledge, wild-eyed propaganda simply does not work anymore.

More than half of U.S. states have now legalized medicinal marijuana. Nine states have gone whole hog and legalized recreational adult use as well. Ballot measures may increase both of those numbers this November. But ballot measures aren't available in all states, and even if they were, America still has a huge problem with the vast disconnect between federal law and reality. Marijuana is not more dangerous than crystal meth. It is not more dangerous than opiates or opioids. It's just not. And yet that's exactly how the federal government classifies it. This was done in Richard Nixon's time -- for purely political reasons -- and has not changed since.

Prime Minister Trudeau's example to the north shows that a politician who takes a strong pro-legalization stance can win a national election. In Canada, at any rate. But the evidence is mounting here in America that our politicians who take such a stance are not committing any sort of political suicide (as would have been the case even a decade ago, in many states and districts). Coming out in favor of legalization actually helps politicians these days, on two fronts. First, taking such a stand can increase youth voter turnout. There are many people (of all ages, really, but more pronounced among the young) who are "single-issue voters" on legalization. This means they probably don't vote in most elections, but they will indeed turn out to vote for a pro-legalization candidate (or ballot initiative). The second big reason is that these single-issue voters cross party lines. Marijuana legal reform is not really a right/left issue anymore. Plenty of Republican voters (especially the young ones) support the idea. Meaning a politician of either party can pick up some crossover votes just by supporting legalization.

While in Canada a politician led the country to legalization, in America the people are still largely leading the politicians. While some Republicans do quietly support marijuana legal reform, there has been no big push by the Republican Congress to attack the root of the problem -- that marijuana should no longer be seen as a "dangerous controlled substance" by the federal government at all, but it instead should be regulated by the federal government in the same fashion they now regulate alcohol and tobacco.

This is the change that is inevitable, no matter how long it actually takes. States and localities should be allowed to regulate -- or even outright ban -- sales of marijuana wherever they like across America (as indeed happened after alcohol's Prohibition ended, resulting in plenty of "dry" counties all over the place), but none of them should be allowed to ban simple possession by an individual. Any American citizen should be able -- just like their Canadian neighbors to the north can now do -- to pack a bag of weed in their luggage, throw it in their car, and soberly drive from one end of this country to the other without fear of being arrested for doing so. You can do so today with a bottle of bourbon or a case of beer -- you can freely drive through all those dry counties and not worry for a single minute about being arrested or having your car confiscated by the police. That's the real end of the road (so to speak), and it can't come soon enough.

I join many Americans today in celebrating the newest and largest legal marijuana market in the world, just across our border to the north. In fact, I'll go further: "O, Canada! Please lead us into sanity!" With such an enormous good example right next door, it's going to now be that much harder for American politicians to stand in the way of the inevitable end of the federal War On Weed. And, as Bob and Doug McKenzie might say: "About time, eh?"

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


36 Comments on “O, Canada!”

  1. [1] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    marijuana can also be baked in... pie! which is exactly why candidates should support pie. did you know that over 80% of americans like pie, yet 50% of americans don't vote? if only 10% of people who don't vote would vote for pie candidates, we would make a political statement that would force politicians to make pie-friendly policy or face the consequences! as a supposedly reality-based journalist, you have been very disappointing in intentionally ignoring the potential political impact of pie. i sincerely hope you reconsider in time for the november mid-term elections.


  2. [2] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    This thread has my name written all over it.

    I went downtown today, partook... to be honest though, it wasn't as much an event, as it was collective nod.

    I have a medicinal Marj card, have for years. The market here is poised to expand over night. There are a few established boundaries for the sale, production, ownership and quality concerns to be ironed out, but the process is apace.

    Ontario, like all other provinces, has the right to operate the pot market within what it deems apropos to its society...Ontario is typically draconian where booze is concerned, we have only just allowed grocery stores to sell beer and wine. So, it has placed the overall control of pot to the AGCO. Luckily, they have decided to limit their intrusion to quality assurance and established and vetted supply chains...the price of weed on the street is half what it was a year ago.

    I fake my weed smoking like I fake my orgasms, I haven't given a fuck about smoking a joint in public since the Jays won the World Series in 93'. But it's nice to see my world catching up to me.

    Smoke it if you want to, don't if you never did.


  3. [3] 
    Paula wrote:

    I've never tried weed and have no interest but I will be happy when it is legalized nationwide. The war on weed has been stupid and horrible and it needs to end.

    [1] :-)

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    that's just a moosepoop excuse for failing to address the points i've made about pie as a political strategy. you can't refute the argument so you've resorted to name-calling. that's okay though, the pie movement will go on with or without your support. it's baked-in!


  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The sun doesn't actually rise, you know.

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    What it does mean is that Canadians now don't have to worry about being searched, arrested, fined, or even jailed because they are in possession of a simple plant.

    Not if they want to travel to Hawai'i - or to Colorado, for that matter - with that plant … or with having anything to do with that plant.

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Okay, I suppose I should only comment after reading the whole piece. :)

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The simple point is it's not worth having to abandon plans to visit Hawai'i - not by a long shot.

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Fear is already reality.

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Do the border agents have that much time on their hands?

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    … the Canadian should refuse to answer, immediately turn around, and head back into Canada.

    Not if they're heading to Hawai'i.

    Just say no.

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, the best part is you'll get to learn from all of our mistakes. :)

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Did I say learn? Silly me.

  14. [14] 
    Kick wrote:


  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    That says something about you.

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I don't know what. Heh.

  17. [17] 
    Kick wrote:


    that's just a moosepoop excuse for failing to address the points i've made about pie as a political strategy. you can't refute the argument so you've resorted to name-calling. that's okay though, the pie movement will go on with or without your support. it's baked-in!

    Exactly right, JL. Listen to him babble on about something he knows nothing about. Obviously, you were talking about lemon pie:

    Don is just quite obviously threatened by all of it. :)

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I concur. That was a great comment, Joshua!

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    In fact, Joshua, I really like your entire series of pie comments and think you are definitely on to something.

  20. [20] 
    Kick wrote:


    Oh, Paula... I got something just for you:

    * Rated -R
    * Nobody else look
    * It's not "civilized"

  21. [21] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Oh, Sessions must be livid. God knows how many ways he's being blocked from cracking down on pot here.

    Heard last night on the BBC that the British are definitely watching Canada's legalization. Many are already preparing for the 'inevitable' spread of legalization across the world, and envious that Canada's got a jump on the world market. In fact, one of the companies licensed to sell pot in Canada is a trans-national concern that's openly preparing for that eventuality. They interviewed the owner. Interesting!

  22. [22] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    thank you for your support. if only CW would devote just one column, perhaps the word would spread and the pie movement would grow just as the me too movement has.


  23. [23] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    I think everyone here can see through Don's ad hominem attempt to distract from the issue afoot. Those who wish to hold a constructive discussion of the political merits of pie should not be dissuaded.

  24. [24] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Speaking of which, I'm disappointed in you cw, yet again you're neglecting your responsibility to inform the public on the merits of pie. What could possibly be more patriotic and American than voting for mom and apple pie, or any pie, even pecan.

  25. [25] 
    Mezzomamma wrote:

    Y'all are pretty well pie-eyed, it seems to me.

  26. [26] 
    Paula wrote:

    [21] Kick: In honor of Tiny! Thanks!

  27. [27] 
    Paula wrote:

    For some reason I have the urge to bake something...

  28. [28] 
    MyVoice wrote:

    Basic science, Folks,

    A closed system does not exchange information with its environment. No information goes in and the system remains unaffected by input. Apparently, the system deflects all external stimulus and, I'm guessing, those deflections are of a predictable nature. In certain circumstances, I understand, heat can be exchanged freely.

  29. [29] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Fox News is playing dumb, I guess.

    That's the only reasonable explanation for this bizarre headline from the Fox News website:

    The US deficit has skyrocketed to $779B. Why?

    Okay. Before reading the article, my mind raced to imagine Fox's possible answers:

    a. Rogue economists, of course

    b. Obama, of course.

    c. It's the recent Tax legislation, stupid.

    d. Let's talk about entitlement cuts right before the midterms!

    Bizarrely, the answer turned out to be 'd'. Seriously.

    Yep, if you needed any more proof that Fox exists inside a bubble that's inside another bubble, this is it: the geniuses at Fox have decided that threatening cuts in essential services to millions is a winning midterm strategy.

    Another purpose for the article was apparently to tout Trump's "nickel" strategy for dealing with ballooning deficits. His plan is to ask cabinet officers to cut their departments by 5% each. The military, according to the article, is 'exempt'.

    Aside from the sheer economic futility of such a move, it opens Republicans up to a charge of literally 'nickel-and-diming' Americans out of essential services.

    My brother, a boxing aficionado, might say that, putting this together with McConnell's recent comments regarding entitlements, the GOP is not only signalling their upcoming punch, it's them saying out loud, "We're about to throw a punch".

    The only possible explanation for this otherwise bone-headed opening of a new front in the budget debate might be to divert attention away from the healthcare issue, which Democratic candidates have been using to great effect lately in their campaigns, given that the GOP has no alternative to the healthcare system known as Obamacare, yet want to destroy it anyway. Democrats win that debate easily.

    The GOP would much rather be debating food stamps, I'm sure. They're hoping, I guess, that Dems will take the bait, allowing them to score some cheap points with their base while there's still time left to rally their voters.

    It's a sure sign that GOP 'outrage' over the Kavanaugh confirmation isn't proving to be the motivator for their side that they'd hoped it would be. Duh! Hard to sustain 'outrage' over a fight you've won.

  30. [30] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    it could also be:

    e. not enough pie!


  31. [31] 
    Paula wrote:

    Kevin Drum has a perfect rant up:

    As I said the other day, this isn’t carte blanche to be an idiot. Every district is different. But on a national basis, Democrats need to add to their repertoire. Sure, they should talk about “health care and jobs and other issues of intense, personal concern to their electorate,” but they should also declare war on the Republican Party and its constant lies, its all but overt racism and xenophobia, and its endlessly debased behavior.

    Or, more to the point, Democrats should simply fight the war that’s already been declared against them. How many black eyes do they need to get before they figure out that electrifying their own base is a far bigger concern than worrying about a Republican lizard brain that long ago fossilized into an organ of pure hate and venom? If Tucker Carlson decides to turn it up to 11, who cares? What matters is that maybe Democrats should turn it up to 10.

  32. [32] 
    Kick wrote:


    it could also be:

    e. not enough pie!


    e. not enough lemon pie!

  33. [33] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    [36] Great rant! I have to agree with everything.

    We have this advantage: Republicans have abdicated all responsibility for their poor moral choices. Trump is a fucking disaster for the future reputation of his party, even if they don't seem to realize that yet.

    C'mon, covering up a murder to protect an arms deal? Could he look any more corrupt?

    It's up to Democrats to raise holy hell about the damage that he's doing to America, to American interests, and to the basic decency and dignity of our country.

    History is pretty consistent about who voters tend to reward and who they don't when outright moral questions are on the ballot. Republicans, in that sense, are betting against the house.

  34. [34] 
    Paula wrote:

    [38] Balthasar: Yep!

  35. [35] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    History is pretty consistent about who voters tend to reward and who they don't when outright moral questions are on the ballot.

    and yet, andrew jackson's mug is still on the twenty dollar bill.

  36. [36] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    C'mon, covering up a murder to protect an arms deal? Could he look any more corrupt?

    C'mon yourself!

    If killing more that 3000 people - mostly US citizens - in 4 separate terrorist attacks at the hands of Saudi citizens wasn't enough to recalibrate the US-House of Saud relationship, then I suspect nothing will.

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