As Canada moves towards legalization, it's good to remember how we got here. It is civil disobedience against the unjust pot prohibition laws that has gotten us to the verge of legalization. We must keep up that momentum as we enter into the final stretch of our cannabis campaign.
This is why I am calling on all freedom-loving Canadians to grow a cannabis victory garden this spring!
I myself pledge to grow a dozen big and beautiful cannabis plants in my yard this year, and I urge you to do the same. Grow them on your balcony or your windowsill, grow them in your front yard or the back, but let us finally bring our plants out of the closet and into the fresh air where they belong.
BEATING THE BAN ON BONGS
Every step on the path to legalization has been won through disobedience to the cannabis laws.
When the modern legalization movement took hold in the early 90s, there was laws on the books which prohibited the sale or even promotion of bongs and vaporizers, as well as banning books and movies in favour of legalization.
Yet dozens of stores began opening across Canada, and many brave people were raided and charged for book and bong sales during this time.
Before he was known for selling seeds, Marc Emery himself was repeatedly being raided for selling bongs and is likely the only Canadian with a criminal record for "promoting vaporizers."
Yet the campaign of opening these new "hemp stores" was so successful that, after several years, the police simply gave up enforcing the ludicrous anti-bong laws in most of the country.
Canadians are always shocked when I explain how these anti-bong and anti-book laws are still on the books in Canada, and that every year a few bong shops still get raided by local police.
(In Winnipeg especially, local police have never stopped waging war against bongs shops.)
CANNABIS FREEDOM RALLIES
Using cannabis is of course banned in Canada, but we have often made police turn a blind eye to that as well. Cannabis freedom rallies began in the big cities like Vancouver and Toronto, and faced harassment and arrests in the early days. The early pot-friendly "vapour lounges" also faced pressure and harassment from police.
But here, too, once again we have simply overgrown the government. There are now a growing number of toke-friendly lounges, and dozens of cities now celebrate annual events like 4/20 and the Global Marijuana March with flagrant and fragrant public use and celebration of cannabis.
We must not wait around to see if maybe Trudeau will be kind enough to let us grow a few cannabis plants at home. We must seize the moment
OPENLY SHARING AND SELLING
After bongs, books and possession, we began fighting against the ban on selling and sharing cannabis. First we started giving away joints at our rallies, then we held marijuana raffles.
Some brave people began selling joints and cookies at 4/20, and over the years we continued to push so that in big cities like Vancouver and Toronto, cannabis is now very openly bought and sold during several cannabis festivals.
The birth of the cannabis dispensary movement also came from civil disobedience. The first dispensaries were in California, called "compassion clubs" because they focused on helping AIDS patients during the peak of that epidemic.
The influence of those clubs spread to Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto and other cities, where compassion clubs began opening in the mid-90s.
About a decade ago the dispensary movement began to expand. After opening Vancouver's third dispensary in 2008, I started helping others to launch their own dispensaries, and have since spent hundreds of hours teaching people how to open dispensaries across the country. Another activist, Don Briere, has created a franchise called Weeds, and currently runs about two dozen locations nationwide.
Once again, this campaign of civil disobedience has paid off tremendously. Although the federal law has not changed, there are now well over 200 dispensaries across Canada, with more opening at a rapidly increasing rate. I expect there will be over 500 dispensaries nationwide by the end of 2016.
The federal laws are still in place, but we have now forced Vancouver and other cities to start giving out business licenses! Our campaign has been so successful that most Canadians don't even realize that bong shops or cannabis dispensaries are still illegal under federal law.
OVERGROW THE GOVERNMENT
Now we see that the cannabis legalization movement is the largest-ever civil disobedience campaign in Canada's history! But we're not done yet. The next step must be to complete our campaign to "overgrow the government."
We must not wait around to see if maybe Trudeau will be kind enough to let us grow a few cannabis plants at home. We must seize the moment, seize our freedom and plant our victory gardens!
It could be years before the Liberals come up with all their new rules and regulations, permits and punishments for legal cannabis. Our movement has never been based on patiently waiting for politicians to grant us freedom. Cannabis liberation is about peaceful defiance and standing up against unjust laws, not only with words, but with concrete action.
This is my rallying cry for all Canadians. If you love cannabis, if you love freedom, or if you just love your country, then plant some cannabis seeds this spring, and we will all reap a wonderful harvest together.
It doesn't matter if you plan on using the buds. It doesn't matter if the plants are female or male. It doesn't matter if they grow 10 feet tall or just 10 inches. All that matters is that Canadians join together to plant these seeds and claim our right to grow in our gardens.
A seed, some soil, sunlight and water. That is how we will finally end cannabis prohibition. I hope you will join me in planting the seeds of freedom from coast to coast!
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