A PAGE FROM WILLY BRANT’S DIARY —Joe and I were on our way to Bear Narrows for our annual ice fishing trip.  Takes quite a while to get there trundling along in his old pick-up truck, so we needed some conversation.  Not a lot new happening in our lives, and just for something to talk about I asked him “So, what do you think about this whole pot thing?”

Answer “I dunno, I don’t have any strong opinions on it, looks like just another government tax grab, not going to affect us”. With a sharp look at me “Is it?”

I ignored the implied suggestion I might be a toker, and asked, “So how do you get a tax grab out of that?” “Well, it’s a long story”.  “OK, we got lots of time” Silence for a minute.  “Ya gotta go back to Prohibition, possibly the worst thing ever done.  Prohibition, making anything to do with alcohol a crime was one of the first and biggest government intrusions into people’s lives.  At that time most of us thought it was none of the government’s business what we ate or drank.  But its repeal was even worse, especially here in Canada.  They didn’t just let it go, they turned it over to their corporate friends to produce and retail the stuff, and made it a huge tax revenue cash cow.  Same with marijuana, they made it a crime to have anything to do with the stuff, and they will not just reverse that, they will only make it legal to use what is produced and handled by their corporate friends, with a big tax added.  Just a big tax grab.”

“So, what will happen to the folks making a living on the stuff now?” from me. “Not much”, says Joe, the government won’t sell the stuff to the kids, so that market is there for them, they just might have to market a bit harder, make even more of our kids into addicts.  Plus they can always undercut the government price, just like moonshiners do with alcohol.  No problem, guys who can’t or won’t work have to eat too”.

After a few miles of silence, I asked “So, Joe, you said Prohibition was the worst thing ever, or something like that. So what makes that such a big deal in your mind?”

“Ok, think about it, in a free country, a citizen can do what he wants as long as it does not harm anybody else. The government’s job is to enforce that ‘do not harm anybody else’ ethic, and do stuff individuals can’t do, like protect us from invasion from other countries.  Laws that regulate your personal private life because some busybody thinks they are smarter than you, whether it is consuming alcohol or smoking tobacco or wearing your seatbelt or smoking mushrooms or getting a flu shot or eating meat on Friday go beyond that legitimate role in a free society.  It is the start of the change from a free country where the government serves the people back to a feudal system where the people do what they are told by the nobility, now a bureaucracy instead of lords and ladies.  It was a huge departure from government’s proper role in a free country.  And it snowballed from there to regulations on every aspect of our lives, no more property rights or right to privacy or free speech, we have gone from people to sheeple, pushed around by our shepherds, –“

Silence for a while, then he added “Marijuana is just a variety of hemp, can’t tell the difference by looking at the plant.  Hemp is a really strong and cheap natural fiber, but it was out of fashion for clothing and pretty much only used for rope and sacking and upholstery and so on, so there wasn’t a huge outcry when they outlawed hemp along with the marijuana”.

“So, how does that matter to us?” from me. “Well, back about 20 years ago there was talk about making it legal to grow hemp to replace synthetic fibre and plastics in stuff like insulation and interior panels for cars and so on.  Save the environment.  Our local Soil and Crop Association sponsored some trial plots, and it grows really well here, could be a good cash crop for us.  But nothing came of that, the regulators were too afraid of marijuana hidden in the hemp fields, to heck with the environment.  It would be a great thing if they did throw out the prohibition on hemp when they legalize marijuana, but don’t hold your breath”.


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