Article by Tabatha Southey, MacLeans Magazine
Last week, Quebec’s minister for rehabilitation, youth protection, and public health, Lucie Charlebois, speaking on the talk show Tout le monde en parle, said: “I do not grow cannabis, but my neighbour grows it. If my grandchildren go to my neighbour’s house and inadvertently get into the marijuana plants and eat them, that’s not good.”
Then, this past Tuesday, in the midst of a debate over the Liberal government’s Bill C-45, which will make pot legal, Tory MP Peter Kent told the House of Commons: “Kids today will learn from one another. When it’s legal, despite the … allowable age to consume, kids are going to harvest leaves.”
These days one can understand how someone who knows nothing about marijuana and even less about children might be concerned. As a former nanny and a mother of two and… well… I’d like to offer some reassurance.
First of all, the kids are going to “harvest” now? That seems like a lot of work. I wonder if Kent also believes that no one just gets their older brother to buy them a bottle of wine anymore because teenagers today are just all about the viticulture. Maybe you get more than six youngsters together on a Friday night in Kent’s mind and you end up being schooled on the risk phylloxera poses to a vine’s root system before the young revellers conclude, “Let’s not go to Jason’s house, his soil is too loamy.”
In my day, you took an inch off the top of all the bottles in your parents’ liquor cabinet, poured it into the Spumante Bambino bottle you emptied the weekend before and you drank that elixir we called “shit mix” and you were guilty-grateful, and yet no one called for prohibition.
I have enough faith in Canadian parents to trust that if a metre-tall plant they were planning on using to get high goes missing, they’ll notice. They will catch on long before that crop is dried and ready for smoking, and I’m willing to bet that if Timmy Teenager makes off with the family herb garden, his parents will be able to handle the situation. Basically, you take your dad’s weed and smoke it, young Timothy, you can look forward to dad showing you what happens to your Xbox when he rolls that up in paper and lights it on fire.
Teenagers will, of course, get their hands on weed. They pretty much always have. That’s part of the point of legalization. Canada tried the whole criminalized marijuana thing for a long time. What we got out of that was (according to a 2013 UNICEF report) the highest rate of cannabis use among young people in the developed world. There’s only so much skating most of us can do. What the government aims to do with Bill C-45 is take some of the resources we’ve historically expended (rather selectively) arresting and jailing people and put them toward educating young people about the good reasons not to smoke pot.
As for Charlebois’s concern that, given the first opportunity, her grandchildren are going to start ravaging her neighbours’ raw pot plants, all I can say is, are you certain those are grandchildren and not goats?
Children don’t generally graze and, if it helps you relax, Canadian parents, fresh marijuana leaves are a terrible way to get high, not toxic and look exactly like the kind of thing you spend hours trying convince your child to eat, to no avail.