This Thanksgiving, we have much to be thankful for. We will be the first G7 country in the world (and second country after Uruguay) to allow our citizens the right to choose for themselves, if they would like to try cannabis. Canadians will not only get to try cannabis as a medical treatment (which has been legal since 2001), but also as a potential alternative to substances like alcohol, without fear of fines, criminal records and/or incarceration.
We are in good company. Belize, Jamaica, South Africa, Colombia, Ecuador, Belgium, Greece, Spain, Switzerland, Croatia, the Czech republic, Russia, and Ukraine are among the countries that have decriminalized cannabis for personal use. Argentina provides medical cannabis for free; Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2001.
In the United States, 30 states allow for medicinal use, 9 of those states allow for recreational. Washington DC has legalized cannabis for recreational use. You can legally carry up to 2 ounces. Maryland, next door to DC, has decriminalized it but you may be fined. Virginia, it’s other neighbour, will fine and jail you for less than half an ounce. So, in essence, whether or not you have the choice to use medicinal or recreational cannabis depends on your zip code in the United States. Not an ideal landscape for people who need to uproot their lives for medical access.
Let’s give thanks to Canada. When Canada says ‘45’, we mean bill C-45, that will effectively stop policies that have done more harm than the plant ever has. At times, criminalizing users for choosing cannabis, over legalized drugs like opiates, and alcohol. When we say 45, we mean giving our citizens peace of mind that they may try to deal with their illnesses in a way that can be supportive to their entire bodily systems, without fear of legal repercussions. We mean that our law enforcement and court time will be in a position to better serve communities. When we say 45, we mean educating our population on the benefits and potential pitfalls of cannabis use. We mean dollars being funneled into medical research to conclusively support mindful use. When many Canadians say C-45 – we are thankful.
I am thankful that adults will have the choice of which substance they use to de-stress their minds and bodies, and enhance life’s pleasures (let us not forget that stress, and the disease it brings, is a preeminent killer). They will have access to a plant which has checks and balances around healthy growing conditions. Access to a plant that has been known to bring about mindfulness, peace, joy, creativity and a sense of community. Through the pleasure enhancing aspect of the plant, food may taste better, music may sound better and sleeps may be deeper. Happiness can be a side effect of this medication.
Of course, not all of us feel the same way. This Thanksgiving we may have much opportunity to get into heated debates if we choose to. There are many on all sides of issues around C-45. There will be those who choose alcohol, while stridently ignoring the benefits of cannabis. Still, the conversation itself is progress. Let’s be mindful, respectful and kind around the discourse.
While we give thanks this Thanksgiving, let’s have patience with those who are still in the prohibition mindset. With patience, “Refer Madness” will be exposed as the brainwashing tactic it was, and will be replaced with the inevitable research which supports mindful, healthy cannabis use.
If you are in a position where those around you are in agreement with the turning tides of cannabis use, congratulations! May your thanksgiving be truly special this year. If you are on this side of the C-45 argument, and still dealing with stigma, I wish you peace and the knowledge that history and research will provide you with the conclusive evidence to feel fully supported in your choices.
— Kait Shane, Community Outreach Educator Natural Health Services. Follow Natural Health Services on Twitter @NatHealthserve.
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