As of October 17th, 2018, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, fulfilling the Canadian-style vote bribe to beat all vote bribes, has “legalized” the sale and consumption of cannabis. In a country in the midst of a slow-boiling communist takeover, of course, “legalized” must be written and understood in scare quotes, because what it really means is that the government has decided to allow Canadians to use and sell recreational marijuana on the terms of a regulatory and licensing regime established and micromanaged by the government. In other words, in progressive-speak, to “legalize” a product or service means to remove it forever from the realm of any truly private (i.e., free) market, and to place it under the umbrella of a state-operated quasi-market functioning on a premise of pseudo-private enterprise.
In any case, in practice this means that the Government of Canada has decided to take control of the second biggest recreational pastime in Canada (after beer-drinking), thus removing whatever stigma was left around a product with a traditional street name which renders it linguistically indistinguishable from its typical Canadian user: “dope.”
In a recent survey of marijuana use conducted by Statistics Canada (the federal government’s official data-crunching office), 14% of Canadians reported using cannabis “in the past three months,” with the majority of those users calling themselves “daily or weekly” users. And this survey was conducted months prior to legalization, suggesting that the real numbers — taking into account many people’s hesitation to publicly admit to an illegal activity — are probably much higher. (No pun intended.)
Is a nation whose population is comprised of so many regular users of a substance the only purpose of which (excepting the very tiny proportion of legitimate medicinal use) is to escape from reality and rational thought for a few hours still fit to maintain itself as a democratic polity with elected representation?
Let me define this question a little more clearly, for those six or seven adult Canadians who can still read these words without responding “Wow, man!”:
Is a persistently stoned person capable of voting with the clear and mature mind of a responsible citizen?
Is a persistently stoned person capable of thinking about the long-term interests and concerns of his nation — economic stability, national defense, tax policy, and the like — with the kind of sobriety required of one invested with the authority to make decisions that will affect not only his own future, but that of generations yet unborn?
Is a persistently stoned person likely to show the kind of determined, even stubborn, resolution in the face of collective disapproval — i.e., standing on principle against current trends — that is one of the defining characteristics of a dignified human being, a man displaying the virtue Aristotle calls greatness of soul?
Is a persistently stoned person able and willing to experience — without reaching for the nearest bag of easy escapism — the kind of passionate disruption of normal life that causes an engaged citizenry to rise up against serious violations of its rights and dignity by the government?
Is a stoned person more or less likely than a non-stoned person to notice, let alone care about, the slow seepage of practical freedom and self-determination that is the mechanism of what Tocqueville called soft despotism?
In fact, is not the official government sanctioning, and government-controlled distribution, of cannabis almost a parodic exaggeration of precisely the kind of social palliation and promises of state-provided happiness that define Tocqueville’s concept of soft despotism?
No one seriously defends cannabis as a drug for “expanded consciousness,” i.e., for seeking alternative dimensions of reality, as some defend LSD or heroin. Nor does anyone seriously defend it as a means to enhanced performance, as some defend amphetamines or even cocaine. And as for its painkilling properties (which I have no doubt are real), that is obviously just a wildly exaggerated cover story exploited by legalization advocates — the legions of bikers, overgrown hippies, and college dropouts who dominate pro-dope “protests” and get labelled “activists” by the media, and whom one is supposed to believe are all just concerned pain sufferers speaking out on behalf of health care rights.
The primary and only plausible defense of general cannabis use is, and always has been, “It helps me relax, so what’s the big deal?”
If “relaxing” were the meaning or essence of life, then rampant cannabis use would be no big deal at all — and neither, for that matter, would life. If not caring about anything too much, not feeling anything too strongly, and not discriminating among things too carefully, were the chief human virtues and indicators of spiritual fulfillment, then cannabis would indeed be the panacea its devotees (aka dope addicts) declare it to be. If chilling out in an intellectual vacuum, contemplating one’s belly button lint, and giggling uncontrollably through one’s latest bout of the munchies, constituted the core activities of a meaningful life lived in accordance with human nature, then not only would Canada’s disintegration into a puff of foul-smelling smoke be “no big deal,” but rather it would be wonderful news.
If, on the other hand, the exact opposite of all the above conditions were in fact the truth about human life and its significance, then widespread marijuana addiction would be a national crisis, and a fatal blow to any hope of survival for a liberal democracy. (And yes it is addictive, dope heads; that’s why you can’t stop doing it, breaking the law for it, failing your children for it, and sacrificing other activities, your non-using friends, and most of your free time for it.) A national crisis not only condoned, but advocated and now officially regulated, by the federal government.
I conclude with some suitable quotations from the good book that has increasingly become my daily guide to our era’s late-stage progressive cancer, Brave New World; in this case, a few words about the World State’s most ingenious chemical creation, soma.
“One cubic centimetre cures ten gloomy sentiments.”
“A gramme is better than a damn.”
“All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects.”
“Take a holiday from reality whenever you like, and come back without so much as a headache or a mythology.”
“A gramme in time saves nine.”
“Don’t you wish you were free, Lenina?”
“I don’t know what you mean. I am free. Free to have the most wonderful time. Everybody’s happy nowadays.”
He laughed, “Yes, ‘Everybody’s happy nowadays.’ We begin giving the children that at five. But wouldn’t you like to be free to be happy in some other way, Lenina? In your own way, for example; not in everybody else’s way.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” she repeated. Then, turning to him, “Oh, do let’s go back, Bernard,” she besought; “I do so hate it here.”
“Don’t you like being with me?”
“But of course, Bernard. It’s this horrible place.”
“I thought we’d be more…more together here — with nothing but the sea and the moon. More together than in that crowd, or even in my rooms. Don’t you understand that?”
“I don’t understand anything,” she said with decision, determined to preserve her incomprehension intact. “Nothing. Least of all,” she continued in another tone, “why you don’t take soma when you have these dreadful ideas of yours. You’d forget all about them. And instead of feeling miserable, you’d be jolly. So jolly….”
Oh, Canada, where have you gone? More importantly, why don’t you care? Well, I guess we know the answer to that last question, don’t we?