Also available at Cannabis in Canada.ca
Protests and sit-ins are effective methods of civil disobedience; there isn't any debate about that. The question is when to employ these methods so as to exercise the most pressure on the opposing force or authority. Cannabis Day 2015 presented an interesting opportunity because what was really being disputed was not so much the right to smoke cannabis, but the right to peacefully protest (including setting up a farmers’ market) without going through the city bureaucracy. This was evidently lost on most people, according to sources, as was the medicinal origins behind celebrating cannabis on Canada Day.
Cannabis sit-ins are nothing new; generally protests happen in Vancouver on a regular basis. Unless one was prepared to set up a tent or get arrested, why even go? Not to disparage any of the peaceful protesters who sat and smoked, but without the confrontations with police (with the pro-cannabis side remaining non-violent) these protests likely wouldn't have made the five o'clock news. This day was about the farmers’ market and the right to assemble without adhering to the paperwork of city bureaucrats.
I missed Cannabis Day because I was growing cannabis. I had planned on attending to help the Cannabis Rights Coalition set up their tent, to document everything for this blog, to ask the cops to “disobey orders”, and maybe even get into a healthy discussion with one. Imagine that: civil discourse with the police instead of pepper-spray. Anyway, emergencies happen and I found myself out of the city and onto a cannabis farm to help a friend.
While it certainly sucked being alone on Cannabis Day, especially with the excitement in the city, I rationalized that if there were no BC farmers, there would be no cannabis to smoke and no Cannabis Day. That is what this fight is all about. Unless you want a cartel of licensed producers, then it's essential to fight for the BC farmer. Or better yet, become one.
The most authentic kind of protest one can do is direct action. David Malmo-Levine, Cameron McDonald, Neil Magnuson, and Bert Easterbrook accomplished just that. Now Magnuson is going to court. Social media makes this international news, a front-page concern within the cannabis community. There are many more methods for non-violent change; perhaps it's time the cannabis culture look at them more closely.
And if there's any message to stay consistent on, it's homing in on what the Bill C-51 supporting Liberals are saying: legalize cannabis to keep it out of the hands of children. That's doublespeak for: legalize cannabis to keep it out of hands of the BC entrepreneur. Tax and regulate is about revenue and control. They've lied about cannabis for decades and now they want to give us permission to smoke it? No, cannabis is a gateway drug to liberty. We're not asking for permits and licenses because this is a protest at all levels. The onslaught of bureaucracy in this country has gone above and beyond at restricting our most basic economic freedoms. 4/20 and Cannabis Day are no longer just about smoking in public -- it's about the BC farmers market. For without the grower, what the hell are you smoking?