Cannabis & anti-Black racism

I’ve recently started microdosing. It’s sporadic as I’m new to cannabis (could never smoke it due to recurring bronchitis/mild asthma and also the skunky smell) and have only had CBD oil in my vegan yogurt or tea and 1:1 TCH & CBD edibles — my faves so far are the milk chocolates from Chowie Wowie and peach mango gummies from Foray (for both external links you will have to verify your age first). I’m trying cannabis out as I’ve got some health issues that have ‘manifested’ since turning 35. And maybe gotten slightly worse since moving to a new city.

It’s been a great experience so far, I think. I walk to the nearby cannabis dispensary and chat with the budtenders a bit about their stock and other cannabis-related things before leaving with my goodies. The environment is safe, clean and well-lit in addition to being easy on the eyes. Their displays are plain, but interesting to look at. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and non-judgy. When I walk out, no one is standing around outside leering or anything, so I feel safe walking home. The dispensary is located close to where everyone gets their groceries. It’s a safe neighbourhood for families, professional couples and seniors. I’d say it’s about 99% white.

A few days ago, I watched an episode of the Patriot Act with Hassan Minhaj on Netflix about how the legal marijuana business is rigged. Minhaj goes into some detail about how all the way up and down the legal cannabis chain there are racial disparities. Basically, the only ones making money off of legal cannabis (and there is a lot of money to be made) — are white folks. He also explains how people of colour were and still are the ones most negatively affected by anti-drug policies. Now, I realize that this show is focused on global and American issues and politics, specifically this one episode, but hear me out here: in a piece published in the Globe and Mail last August, written by Chuka Ejeckam, he explains how these issues are affecting Black and Indigenous people here in Canada too. Of the top five cannabis producers in Canada, POC make up only 3% of management staff. 81% of cannabis companies are owned mostly by white men. Black people have gained little benefit to the legalization of marijuana. And the introduction of Bill C-93 (‘No-fee, Expedited Pardons for Simple Possession of Cannabis’) which is supposed to pardon those previously charged with possession of cannabis, doesn’t actually expunge criminal records from 2018 onwards, it merely suspends them.

And why would things be any different up here in the true north, strong and free? Why do we think we are better? We are a country with a colonial past, one which we have yet to reconcile or even come to terms with. While Canada proudly pats itself on the back for their role in the Underground Railroad, there is an 11 year old boy being accused of wearing gang wear, and his mother is deemed “threatening” while defending her child. While we scoff at the egregious incarceration rates in the U.S. for Black people, most don’t know that in Canada, Black inmates make up 8.6% of the total number of those incarcerated when they represent only 3% of the total Canadian population. In fact, between 2003-2013, the number of Black inmates increased by 90%. Carding practices by police (a.k.a. “Community Contacts Policy”) disproportionately target Black and Indigenous people. Canadian journalist Desmond Cole even wrote about how he’s been carded more than 50 times — just because he’s Black.

So, with every bite of my edibles, I think about how privileged I am to look the way I do. To be able to afford legal, safe cannabis products that have been lab-tested to ensure that not only are they not moldy, but aren’t “laced” with other drugs or chemicals. To be able to walk down the street without being questioned or feared — nor killed. Sometimes, I can’t handle all the hurt in the world. My anxiety-ridden brain wants me to hide away. I haven’t been able to — nor will I ever be able to figure out — why some people are racist. I understand that it’s learned, perhaps some anthropologists might even go as far as to say it’s ingrained in our DNA to judge and fear others when faced with unknowns. But what if you’re a grown-ass adult who should know better? Are the wires crossed? Why the hate? It’s something I will keep trying to understand & change around me — in my own neurodiverse way, like with this blog post.

Black lives matter.


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