One of the dirty ol’ loggers I worked with in my first job out of high school repeatedly used that cuss word combination. Ever since, those words tumble out of my mouth when I am really amazed.
Such cussing was mandatory if you were a dirty ol’ logger in the sixties. It was a dirty job, dusty. The dust stuck to your sweat to form grit. True grit. The loggers I worked with were dirty and old. I was dirty and young. But we all had lots of true grit. None of us ever confused reality with fantasy.
My job was to follow the bucker (cuts the logs into truckable lengths) and get every log less than twenty feet long off the landing before the Grapple Cat scooped up the whole row to load it on the trucks’ bunks. Heavy work, it steeled me. Developed my wit and wisdom. Had to be nimble and stay ahead of the Grapple Cat. I was full of piss and vinegar, had to be, but had not yet heard of the evil party drug, marijuana.
Over proof rum was my recreation, I would regularly wake up covered in my own puke.
Today I am surprised into cussing, “Lord…whistlin’…JEZUS!” because I am assiduously reading the four pages in last Saturday’s Focus Section of The Globe and Mail, titled, They turned to cannabis for relief. But after getting sick, patients are fighting for answers.
This excellent piece, written by investigative reporter Grant Robertson, is a stunning description of how investor and supplier greed and abject could-care-less business practices appear to have become a very worrisome factor in the medical marijuana industry. All this because medical marijuana growers have been using chemicals and mold pesticides to get bumper crops. Sadly, Health Canada has had no mechanisms to monitor and control this threat to users of medical marijuana.
I am surprised at myself because I read the whole article, yet for years I had believed I would never have to, or want to, read another word about wacky tabacky for the rest of my clean and sober days.
Background: In the late sixties, soon after I left my dirty ol’ logging job in Kamloops and migrated to Big Smoke Vancouver, where the disco dancers at the Pink Pussycat made my vinegar surge, I did discover the wondrous weed.
On my first toke I declared, “Lord…whistlin’…JEZUS! Inhaling this stuff sure makes me feel good.”
I immediately knew that God Herself invented this herb and forced it to grow out of the Green Earth that had suddenly become Nirvana for me. Nirvana, that is, as long as I could get another hoot. “Hey, don’t Bogart that joint. Pass it over to me.”
I hooted pot daily. The biggest decision every day was, “Do I toke up before breakfast, or after breakfast?” A sunny day was a justification. So was a cloudy day. I said I wasn’t addicted, I could stop anytime. But I never did.
So, after hundreds and hundreds of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and hundreds and hundreds of Narcotics Anonymous meetings and even more hours with counsellors and psychiatrists I now enjoy LTS, long term sobriety. I have now been clean and sober for longer than I was a piss-tank pot smoker. Contented, placid sobriety and clean time is rewarding and wonderful. I will never go back to that gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair befuddlement I suffered in the 70s and 80s.
But when I read that, They turned to cannabis for relief. But after getting sick, patients are fighting for answers. I start to wonder, what would have happened if those customers of “medical marijuana” had never toked up at all. Were there other ways to handle pain and stress?
Who can we trust? Health Canada? No. As Robertson shows they are behind the curve on protecting those who need the drug for serious pain, especially cancer patients.
We certainly can’t trust the growers or retailers who want to maximize their profits but don’t give a damn who they hurt by using legally banned pesticides.
Grant Robertson’s article exposes the irresponsible denial and contemptible unscrupulousness of some of the managers and investors who have jumped into this rapidly growing industry of legally helping people endure their pain and stress.
Yet I feel compelled to ask, “Was there no other way than medical marijuana to resolve that pain and stress?”
My favorite editor, who often checkmates me on rants such as this, cautions that it is because I am a recovered addict that I have such a scornful attitude towards users of medical and recreational marijuana.
She’s right. I do need to take a many faceted approach. I do need to remember everyone has a different from mine, their own, relationship to booze and drugs. What that is, is none of my business.
There is only one person left to trust, ourselves. We have to make that happen. Whether we are a medical or a recreational user we have to be careful to not confuse reality with fantasy. There are no quick fixes and few panaceas. Develop your wit and wisdom. Be nimble. Stay out of the way of the Grapple Cats of the world around you. Make your own True Grit.
Elon Newstrom is a Kamloops resident, sometime university student, and former logger and pot smoker.