Page 39 - Sharp September 2021
P. 39

on sending people away, and then began making money off [cannabis] as soon as it was a thing you could tax. That will never sit well — and it shouldn’t, I think. It’s something that people should know.
I’m sure we could’ve documented the Gold Rush a bit better than we did, right? We have pho- tos and anecdotes, but we didn’t unpack some of the cultural ramifications as it was happening. We have the chance to analyze this and the way it’s happening as it’s happening in real time. What a time to be alive!
People have always found a way to smoke weed, and seeing it shift into this really serious product with branding and commercials and whatnot feels insane. Has this changed how it’s been a part of your life?
It means that I don’t have to whisper about it, and I never felt that I should have. So there’s that. But also, I am happy there are more jobs. Have we ever had too many jobs? No! Have we ever had enough money as a population to fund social programs? And I’m not saying this was my idea or that I was a part of it.
It was the only aspect of my life in which I was breaking laws or rules, really. I did my taxes. I am anal-retentive about that shit. I was forced into being a crook no matter what. I was forced to engage in illegal activity, and I have very strong opinions on that. My dad went to fucking prison for dealing cocaine and smuggling cocaine and shit. So I was always pathologically a goody two- shoes with that shit, because I didn’t want to be my father. And here I was forced into constantly consorting with characters that were fucking bad or evil and finding myself in places that I wouldn’t have been otherwise. I would remember always being like, Please God, let there be a day when I have to line up and overpay for this and it’s like 2 in the afternoon! I just didn’t want it to have to be something I was ashamed of, because there was nothing to be ashamed of. And for me it means there are now stores in my neighbourhood, and it’s a lovely shopping experience.
It’s crazy that it felt like everything changed overnight, and the podcast really lets us know that it, of course, wasn’t a change that happened out of nowhere. It was so fascinating to see who got rich off it, how they did, and what happened exactly. Are you curious as to where this story goes next?
I think the inevitable next stop is going to be some- thing to do with the fairness and unfairness of all that. I think it’s going to be friendly to big business and not necessarily friendly to mom and pop, as any kind of big business is.
Especially if the face of a business is people that come from corridors of power in Ottawa or Toronto, they already have a leg up in a way that people who have worked in this trade will never have. There are fairly decent folks who sold pot before they were technically allowed to, and who were increasingly legitimate with how they were doing it. They went from being a guy in a van to a guy with a brick-and-mortar store. You had to be buzzed in and know where it was, but it was still a spot that had cash registers and employees. I’ve watched it take on muscle and fat, and I was like, Is this what’s going to happen? They’re gonna let these guys do their thing?
The government can’t be seen rewarding drug dealers, so they would rather reward people who had no working knowledge of the business. We’re in the business of shutting those guys down, and that will never sit right with me.
What will be interesting will be watching it become increasingly less of a big deal. I’m waiting ’til we get to the point of, like, the pot version of peach wine coolers.
I live down the street from one of the stores you mention in the second episode, which had a lot of issues getting legitimized, and it really struck me as a story about who is allowed to have the capital to make mistakes and get fined. Really, so much about who gets to profit off legalization is about inequality.
I think it became a commodity like anything else. If you get your hands on it, you’re gonna do su- per well, and the better you do, the more you can weather the valleys. I don’t know that it’s necessarily any uglier than participating in an illegal system in which all the pot I bought presumably came from bikers originally. I was never psyched about that; I’m not trying to pay the Hell’s Angels anything. At least now I know a portion of what I’m paying goes to everyone.
However, behind the scenes, it’s going to be just as inherently unfair and unequal as any other business. I just hope that some of the people who should be running these companies have the means to weather what it means to compete. There can be
a good weed company, and there are successful companies that are not just financial success stories but cultural success stories. Like I said, you can’t have too many jobs.
Going off on a history tangent here, we were once an industrial part of the world. We used to manufacture things, and at least now we kind of have one more place to send people to work, and that can’t be a bad thing.
My last question here is going to be very broad. You’re clearly someone who knows a lot about Canadian history and what Canada is. And in the first episode you mention how it’s kind of surpris- ing that Canada was at the forefront of anything this radical. What was it like watching this whole thing unfold from a very Canadian lens?
It’s hard to not be at least a little bit patriotic, I’ll be honest. I think it will be something history will be very kind to. Like, we don’t debate the Prohibition era — even in fucking high school, there’s not one teacher that wants to debate the merits of prohibition. Nobody is like, “Should we go back to a dry society?” I’m sure at the time it was undercut by conversations like, “How im- portant is that drink?”
It’s about the freedom to choose to have that drink or not drink. And I’m not somebody who drinks at all; I don’t drink alcohol whatsoever. I think that history will look back on this era the exact same way: it won’t be a debate as to whether or not we should have allowed people to have this option.
It was really heartening to see us at the fore- front of this. But in unpacking it, it starts off with, “How come we’re the trailblazers here?” Maybe that doesn’t necessarily dovetail with how we un- derstand ourselves. After doing the show, I realized there’s no more Canadian outcome than where we’re at now. We are relentlessly debating and ceaselessly legislating, and Ottawa seems to be scared shitless of stepping on provincial toes. So what we end up having is this country filled with individuals constantly arguing about it — and there won’t be one right way to do it. I guess what I’m getting at is that there’s no more Canadian pas- time than analysis and self-doubt, and what we see here — I mean the fact that we’re only a few years out and we already have a podcast unpacking this from a holistic and analytical standpoint! That is the most fucking Canadian relationship we could possibly come up with.
“There’s no merit to legalizing it if so many people are still languishing for shit they shouldn’t have been in jail for in the first place.”

   37   38   39   40   41