Marijuana, McDonalds and Morality

17 11 2011

I am grateful to live where I can engage openly in a dialogue about and have the opportunity to influence what happens in my community, province and country. Last night I attended the all-candidates meeting, giving me the opportunity to listen and learn and interact with those who will carry on the leadership of West Kelowna.

When the floor opened for questions, I was able to ask my own:

“My question is this. Currently we have two businesses in West Kelowna who are openly selling drug paraphernalia. They are operating, technically, legally because they have found a loophole in our system. Hemp City and Mary Jane’s both openly sell items, hundreds of them, clearly for drug use.

One of these stores openly sells to minors, but that is hardly the issue because adults are also shopping for children. This is a problem for everyone concerned; for both adults and kids.

I realize there are many ways for people to get their hands on drugs and pipes and grinders; I realize that some people want to do drugs. But the criminal code says that buying, selling, using drugs is illegal. Yet…we are providing an open door, in this city, for drug paraphernalia to be openly sold. We have allowed a store for them to shop in, essentially an invitation to engage in drug use.

If elected, will you engage with this issue, bringing the best minds around this problem to find a way to keep our community as drug-free and safe as possible and to support the efforts of our RCMP, by in this particular case, finding a way to say no to shops like these in West Kelowna?”

Most of the candidates showed support for finding a way (realizing there are complications) to say no to businesses like the two I mentioned. Some of the support is cautious, which I can appreciate on some level.

The very last comment made, however, concerned me a great deal. I was not given the opportunity to respond in the moment (it wasn’t a debate forum, after all), so I want to respond here. The final candidate (Mr Albrecht), in response, raised the issue of how there are people who don’t want McDonalds in our community and other people do, and who are we to say who should be able to eat a McDonalds burger and who can’t? We must be careful with morality issues. He received applause for his good humor and middle-of-the-road approach.

I take exception to this as a person who is in support of the Criminal Code of Canada and our RCMP members.  As far as I know, there is no law against eating a McDonald’s hamburger, but there are laws regarding the buying, selling, using of Marijuana.

A large portion of the inventory at Hemp City and Mary Jane’s are for the purpose of smoking marijuana. As I talked to one of the employees, I asked him to not give me the usual speech:

“They’re water pipes” wink, wink
“They’re for smoking tobacco” wink, wink

I asked him to be straight up with me: What are those pipes for? And his response was that they are for smoking marijuana primarily.  I appreciated his frankness. Let’s not play the same game, so familiar in the Emperor’s New Clothes, where we don’t say things like they are.  Those two stores sell items that are primarily for drug use. And yes, they do so legally which must be incredibly frustrating for law enforcers that we have commissioned to carry out the laws we have supported and then undermine.

This is not a personal morality issue for any one of us who object to the presence of these establishments in our city. Unless the laws change (may they not), we need to pay attention to what is going on in our city, just blocks from our schools.

If we are going to engage this issue, let’s be very clear about what we are and what we are not talking about. I am not raising this issue to take on every establishment I personally disagree with. I am raising this issue because we are saying two things in our city:

1. We support laws that criminalize the buying, selling, using of drugs.
2. But we will allow what you need to do drugs to be sold legally in our city.

We need to talk. We need to take action.

— Teresa Klassen



2 responses

31 01 2012
Paschal O. Otieno( Evangelist)

Dear Teresa,
I have been reading your blog for sometime. I first discovered your article on debate about abstinence and the use of condom. I liked it. You did it when you were taking your Undergraduate degree in MU

I love the passion with which you handle children matters. Keep on encouraging parents coz for most of our cultures in Africa caning (beating with a whip or a small stick) is the way children are disciplined!! Sometimes they are threatened or promised a beating. Its really important to understand a child before you discipline.

I work with children and we are trying to change this through drama in primary schools. Next week will join one of the NGOs in training teachers on the rights of children. I hope we will change this thing but slowly. Our new constitution and the teachers commission Act abolishes caning( corporal punishment) in schools. Lets share more and see how we can partner to change this forever.

God Bless you.
With love from Homa Bay,

31 01 2012

Hi Paschal, thanks for your note but I think you have me mixed up with someone else. I know that there is someone else who blogs who shares the same name with me and I have a feeling this might be who you are referring to (I don’t have an undergrad degree from MU). God bless, T

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