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Cannabis Health Journal
March/April 2005

Dominic Cramer

Dominic Cramer founded Toronto Hemp Company (THC) in 1994. Since then he’s been an integral part of many organizations, events, and advances within the Canadian cannabis community, including the Toronto Compassion Centre, Sacred Seed exotic seed and houseplant shop, The Herb Collective garden supply shop, Green Truth drug policy conferences, Dominizer herbal vaporization technology, the Canadian Cannabis Coalition, Canadians for Safe Access, NORML Canada, the Canadian Cannabis Society, various press conferences and television productions, and Fill The Hill. Details:

An Even Brighter Future

The past couple of years have brought phenomenal advancement in the acceptance and understanding of cannabis in Canada and beyond. Calls for an end to our outrageous prohibition are not coming from just a handful of radicals or visionaries. People from all backgrounds, beliefs and walks of life are finally speaking out to encourage drug policy modification based upon logic and compassion.

Unfortunately, we still face enormous uncertainty and resistance to positive change. There seems to be no end in sight to the ignorance and propaganda, or to deceptive policies full of counter-productive half-measures. Our courts and leaders continue to repeatedly let us down, and many steps forward seem to inevitably cause a backlash of fear, lies and back-stepping. Progress has been a very slow and difficult exercise in patience, persistence and, far too often, futility.

As the ‘cannabis community’ has grown in size and diversity, our unavoidable and often underappreciated differences have given us great strength, but have also increasingly threatened to detrimentally divide us or damage our credibility. Competing commercial interests and egos, minor personal disputes blown out of proportion, lapses in judgment and tact, built-up frustrations and stress, and unexplainable negativity cannot be permitted to confuse or muffle our message.

It is time, more than ever before, for us to embrace our differences. That supporters of cannabis compassion are so diverse is a clear indicator of the importance and enormity of our efforts. We must all, individually and collectively, strengthen and sharpen our efforts with a major focus on unity, co-operation and mutual respect.

Many among us wisely feel that cannabis prohibition has been, from the start, a massive and counter-productive blunder and that we must do whatever it takes to demand full legalization-eradication of this injustice once and for all. Others among us are, perhaps equally wisely, more accepting of (or unconcerned about) the greater inadequacies and inconsistencies in our established traditions, protocols and industries; and are quicker to allow compromise and accept step-by-step measures in the negotiation and carrying-out of drug-peace treaties.

Some faithfully believe that prohibition of nature’s creations is obviously contrary to God’s will, while others analytically detest the damage done by drug prohibition and the hypocrisy of a system that creates and magnifies the very ills it is purportedly protecting us from.

Some feel that cannabis is such an important plant that it should not be used for financial gain, while others feel that it’s high time for legitimate business people and our tax revenue to profit from this plant instead of only ‘criminals’ having that ability.

Some argue that marihuana is an important source of chemicals to be used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals; others refuse to disrespect the plant or ‘play god’ by using anything except the highest grade sun-nurtured and organically grown unadulterated flowers.

Some fight for the rights of even their children to benefit from the medicinal effectiveness of cannabis products, while others fight for an end to prohibition so that we can realistically protect our children from an unregulated black market.

While many of these opinions seem incompatible, it must be recognized that we cannot and have not made much real progress without the support of a wide crosssection of our general population. However, we must also be vigilant and cautious of efforts (including those unintended) whose effect might be to cause conflict and distract from or diminish our progress.

While our Controlled Drugs and Substances Act remains ridiculous, and our government’s Marihuana Medical Access Regulations remain inaccessible - a hugely disappointing boondoggle with most medicinal users left out in the cold and most doctors left scared, unwilling and cautioned not to cooperate - both mainstream medicine and the herbal ‘underground’ are still somehow making amazing progress. And while this effort has stretched on for decades, time is of the essence; millions of people, many of our loved ones, are suffering and even dying unnecessarily and prematurely.

With recent drug and research approvals, Prairie Plant Systems and GW products are gaining pharmaceutical acceptance in Canada. At the same time, Compassion Centres and similar organizations have been established in more and more cities and small towns across the nation to meet the immediate medical necessities of our population. The scope of services offered, the range of people assisted, and the level of support and collaboration are growing at an almost incredible rate. Also, some kind of ‘decriminalization’ for personal recreational/medicinal/spiritual use and cultivation is definitely looming on the political horizon, and many challenges to the constitutionality of prohibition continue in our courts and the courts of public opinion. As productive and momentous as the past few years have been, the next few likely hold even greater potential for positive change.

It is clear that a major diversification is occurring. As capitalism and our health-care establishment finally run with the mainstream marketing of cannabis-based prescription medicine, cannabis is also gaining some of the respect it deserves as a medicinal herb, a ‘natural health product’ and as an option for use and experimentation for whatever purpose by any adult Canadian who so chooses. As the diversity of cannabis supporters brings us strength, so too does the diversity of uses, products, revenues, and markets for cannabis.

While it has become ever more apparent that the fears and threats of the administration of the United States have held us back, those same States and organizations within them have made remarkable moves forward with medicinal and more general decriminalization. Many States, notwithstanding contradictory federal policy and action, are far more advanced in this regard than we Canadians even believe ourselves to be. This is a sad situation, considering the opportunity Canada has had to help lead the way on this issue, the chance to further and to strengthen our international reputation as a human-rights and peace-keeping superpower and forward-thinking sovereign nation.

With so many frontiers for us to work on, and so special a long-standing tradition of harmony and cooperation within our ranks, the future couldn’t be much brighter for unifying organizations such as the Canadian Cannabis Coalition, NORML Canada, Educators for Sensible Drug Policy, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and the Canadian Cannabis Society. Groups like these are allowing alliances of Compassion Centres, Cannabis-related businesses and organizations, medical and civil liberty associations, and all sorts of Canadians with an interest in this issue to connect, communicate, and support each other. Our message is being presented with ever more volume and clarity, and is reaching audiences and strata of society that were previously mostly out of our reach.

We must ensure that this momentum continues – keep educating ourselves and those around us, joining and supporting unifying organizations, participating in events and campaigns, contacting our leaders and media, and encouraging positivity, cohesiveness and collaboration.

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