Opinion

Rezori | Marijuana: the apple in the Garden of Eden

With politicians and many public figures being candid about marijuana use, Azzo Rezori wonders if a broader debate on the subject might help.
With politicians and many public figures being candid about marijuana use, Azzo Rezori wonders if a broader debate on the subject would help. (Ed Andrieski/Associated Press)

Pot continues to be in the news (which is where it arguably should be considering how much it continues to be in use). A poll released last week shows that most Canadians (68 per cent), including supporters of the Harper government, do not hold it against Justin Trudeau that he goes for the odd high and has taken the political gamble to admit it.

A majority of Canadians (63 per cent) also supports legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana.

The political debate since Trudeau's admission has been surprisingly civil, even humorous. Consider Prime Minister Stephen Harper's own answer to the question whether he ever smoked the stuff.

"Do I seem like someone who smokes marijuana?" he replied with that smile of his I never quite know what to make of.

It seemed to imply that he's accepted having missed out on something far too many people might actually consider cool. I wanted to take him by the shoulders and say, "It's okay Stevie boy. Some people will hold it against you, but it's really no big deal."

How do you spot a pot smoker?

It's still a good question. Just how would you expect a pot smoker to seem? 

It reminds me of growing up in a northern Bavarian village, convinced we could tell the Catholics from the Protestants just by their looks. The Catholics, we believed, had kinder faces. The Protestants were the hard bunch. Needless to say we were Catholics ourselves.

I think it had something to do with sin. Catholics seemed to have a more relaxed way with it. You did your best to be good, but if you had to sin you got it over with, went to confession on Saturday evening, kept clean until communion Sunday morning, and you were back in business. Good as new.

Whatever else you might say about marijuana — whether it's a gateway drug or not; whether it does permanent damage to your physical, mental, or moral health or not; whether it makes you smarter or just more stupid; whether it opens you to greater spirituality or just to greater foolishness — the bottom line is that marijuana is a sin in the oldest tradition of the word.

Ah, the forbidden fruit

Remember the story of the apple in the Garden of Eden? It wasn't just any apple. It was THE apple. The most forbidden fruit of all because it promised to give Adam and Eve knowledge of things they had no business having any knowledge of.

As Adam and Eve discovered, knowledge is dangerous. They took the forbidden bite, started thinking outside the box, and before they knew it they were out in the cold.

Knowledge tends to have that effect. It's prone to giving you ideas that get you in trouble, especially with the authorities.

Imagine yourself standing in a perfectly ordinary street, on a perfectly ordinary night, going about some perfectly ordinary business after a perfectly ordinary puff of pot. Far in the distance a pair of lights appear. Like two unblinking eyes.

They have a strange way of coming closer. Not by moving as you might expect, but by just getting larger. They're surrounded by a halo of sound that keeps expanding as well. It all happens so slowly, you have this strange sensation of being approached by eternity. And then the car pulls even with you, spills over you, enters you. You tremble as it moves on with mysterious indifference, shrinking again, two red lights now and oh-so forever, and you stand there with everything inside you blown wide open, and you say, "Wow!"

Sin or crime?

Was that a sin? Maybe. But a crime?

Well, yes. A sin is an act against the will of God. A crime is an offence against the interests of the state. Same thing.

Maybe the story of Adam and Eve is just that, a story. More and more people believe that God is just a story as well. But the State as manifested in Harper's enigmatic smile is very much a reality. The apple is still forbidden, not because it's bad for you but because it threatens the innocence of the garden.

When Senator Marc Garneau was asked whether he had ever smoked marijuana, he replied, "It's not my thing. I stopped because it wasn't doing anything for me."

Fair enough. But pot does do all kinds of things for other people. If you ever find there's too much food in your fridge and it's time to get rid of some of it, invite a bunch of friends, smoke them up, then mention the food. It works.

About the Author

Azzo Rezori

Perspective

Azzo Rezori has been working with CBC News in Newfoundland and Labrador since 1987, and reports regularly for Here & Now and other broadcasts.

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