Recreational cannabis survey is aimed at the Kootenays

University of Guelph study gathering info from rural B.C.

SUBMITTED

Black Press

After 95 years, Canada has decided prohibition doesn’t work. Our country reports some of the highest cannabis consumption rates globally, particularly among youth. Within Canada, British Columbians pay for some of the cheapest weed, have some of the highest consumption rates, and produce, at least within the black market, more product than any other province in our country.

People are coming out into the sunlight to share their story of respectful disobedience of the law. Both those who opted to grow because they had no other way to sustain their families, and those who wished to consume despite the illegality of it for a variety of reasons.

While one-third of Nelson’s economy is said to be supported by the cannabis industry, other communities are known for a 90% participation rate in the trade. Many participants in the industry have wanted to be legitimate, but couldn’t under the current federal law. Largely peaceful participation in the black market employed local hard working people who spent their earned cash back in the local economy. Somehow, many of these disenfranchised rural areas of B.C. have operated almost silently for decades, growing cannabis for the love of the plant and because they didn’t have other viable employment options. Exploiting the warm, moist climates, the southern half of rural B.C. specializes in outdoor and indoor weed, producing such large quantities that an estimated 80% of the black market product leaves our province, destined to other locations both within and outside national borders.

Because of the top-notch quality, B.C. Bud is world renown. So is craft cannabis from the Kootenays to the rest of Canada.

With recreational legalization, civil rights advocates rejoice (although concern for decriminalization of previous non-violent cannabis crimes continues to exist). Benefits of legalization brings quality standards and promised reliable product, taxation revenue that can be put back into essential services, arguably more product availability for medical patients, while law enforcement and the courts should have extra time for more pressing issues than simple cannabis possession charges.

But how will our youth be affected by recreational legalization? After all, cannabis gummy bears are likely to be legally available one day in Canada. How about the safety of our roads? Will more people drive under the influence? And is cannabis a gateway to harder drugs or a gateway off harder drugs?

What about the wellbeing of communities that have quietly participated in the free market for 50 years? Will a place like the Kootenay region benefit from dismantling their largely peaceful and well functioning black market? Is there room for them to participate in the legalized regime?

With legalization, there are likely to be issues, but there has to be more opportunities.

Understanding how rural regions of British Columbia will be impacted by legalized recreational cannabis is incredibly important, particularly for the socioeconomic well being of the disenfranchised communities that have become ecologically favourable niches for producing cannabis.

Please share your thoughts using Thoughtexchange, by first reading the informed consent to get started: https://ruralbclegalizationstudy.wordpress.com/thoughtexchange-informed-consent/ And if you are ok with the informed consent, you can access the exchange one of two ways. You can either:

• Text “Hello” to 728-55 and enter the 9-digit participation code: 941-342-330 or 2. Use the weblink: https://my.thoughtexchange.com/#102528419

Findings from this exchange will inform a University of Guelph graduate level research project titled “Transitioning to the New Rural Cannabis Economy”.