Appeared in Business in Vancouver – Issue 1167, March 6-12, 2012
I take pride in my simplistic attitude toward legalizing marijuana. I’m against it. Better know that immediately if you plan to read on.
I identify those who favour legalization as well-educated, privileged people, or deluded fools. Not that those groups don’t intermarry.
Oh, not to injure the feelings of hypocrites by leaving them out. For ably describing the hoisting on their own petards – anyone know what a petard is, without consulting Oxford? – of four classic examples of this sub-species of mankind, I make ten thousand obsequious bows to Vancouver Sun columnist Pete McMartin.
Aided by his large, well-financed research team, Pete gleefully identified as first-class hypocrites the four former British Columbia attorneys-general – like four ex-Vancouver mayors of similar trajectory – who were draft-dodgers in the war to legalize marijuana when they held office, but now emerge as akin to the 99% of prominent Frenchmen who were in the Resistance during the Nazi occupation.
Let us name these latecomers. They are Colin Gabelmann, Ujjal Dosanjh, Graeme Bowbrick and Geoff Plant. (On other matters I admire two of the above and excuse a third for his brief tenure.)
They have jointly written a letter to the present premier and leader of the opposition. It begins: “As former B.C. Attorneys General we are fully aware that British Columbia lost its war against the marijuana industry many years ago …”
As Pete notes (damn, I’ll have to split my fee with him), the operative phrase here is “many years ago.” But the record shows this quartet never shouldered arms with the pro-marijuana liberators. They’ll be there, though, when the supposedly troglodyte defenders of the status quo raise the white flag and the legal stoning party begins, as seems likely. Brings to mind the delightfully reproachful old New Orleans song, “Sent for you yesterday, here you come today.”
Obviously the wars on murder, stealing, child abuse, pornography, political fibbing and such have been waged long before there were calendars, and no victory in sight either. Only the war on marijuana – the weed of the generation now in power, coincidentally – is hopeless, lost.
It is impertinent of me to weigh the fashionable opinions of several old pols, most of them science-challenged, against someone who actually knows what he’s talking about. UBC’s Dr. Pat McGeer is a world-class neuroscientist who has spent a lifetime studying the brain, as opposed to those baffling it.
McGeer, who was also a brilliant cabinet minister – Allan Fotheringham opined that he got more ideas before breakfast than the rest of the (Bill Bennett) cabinet in a month – unloaded on former mayors Larry Campbell, Mike Harcourt, Sam Sullivan and Philip Owen last November when they too publicly backed legalization of pot.
Wrote McGeer: “British Columbians should firmly reject their entreaties to legalize marijuana. They wish to enhance its availability on the grounds that it will bring revenue to the city and is harmless.
“Just say no. It is not a harmless agent. Our brain research laboratory at UBC published a series of papers in the 1970s specifically demonstrating brain damage from cannabis.
“I was invited to testify before a U.S. congressional committee on our findings. Three of my scientists ignored those findings. As marijuana users, they became incapable of designing and executing experiments. They were the only three I have lost in more than 50 years of managing young neuroscientists.
“I have never been able to understand why anybody would be so foolish as to monkey with the biochemistry of their most precious organ, their brain.”
The invulnerable – through privilege, family influence and support, appropriate genes, luck, or a belated flash of common sense – largely survived the big smoke-in of the 1960s. The vulnerable didn’t. The issue came as close to me as I would ever want, and hardened my conviction. Shame, you well-stuffed ex-politicians, media people, academics, professional counsellors and others of their self-interested and in many cases Johnny-come-lately caste.
© Trevor Lautens, 2012