MMAR Coalition Against Repeal Party! Feds Lose Round 1

Let Them Eat Cake!
Recently, I stumbled across an event that was just too, well, different to not blog about. One of my fave bands that I promote through various means was playing in the 6 Nations of the Grand River Reserve near Brantford, Ontario, Canada, and I thought that a unique location and opportunity to check out that part of Ontario and culture, and possibly scope out some local aboriginal talent as well.

We overshot and found the coalition's event sponsors
Riding with Ray Yap, composer and lead guitar / singer for reggae / rockers, The Yappers, on his first visit to a reserve, he seemed mesmerized by all the signs advertising tax free products like cigarettes and gas - with gas actually under $1 litre! His reaction was like we were rolling into Vegas or in something like the Twighlight Zone!

After missing the place one time - as it's signage was hard to spot - we finally arrived, and, walking inside, found a beautiful spot to play - barn-like in its inner design, with high wood beam supported ceilings adorned with strategically placed chandeliers. The stage and sound equipment were top notch too, including the conveniently mobile sound booth. I'm told the place could get rowdy at times but on this night, as it would turn out, there was not even a need for a doorman - although some pretty scrappy looking gentlemen stood by who could certainly assert some control on someone need be I was sure.

Host for event in 6 Nations
As I wandered around during set up, I was amazed at all the paraphernalia their sponsors had put out for prizes and display as well as an array of baked goods that were made with pot,  complete with a big cake, adorned with green nougat pot leaves. It was almost like something out of a Cheech and Chong movie but in the future! Hey, man, shit happens when you're covering a reggae rock band. Ha.

The no-alcohol event was in support of medical marijuana for a fundraiser for the group called the MMAR Coalition Against Repeal who are on a mission to raise funds for lawyers fees in order to continue their battle to preserve the right for people to have the right to grow their own medicine (and food) - namely marijuana.

The Coalition which boasts over 6,600 members across Canada has raised over $144,000 so far towards the $250,000 needed to hire their top gun Lawyer, Johnny Conroy to take it to the next legal step. Essentially their argument is simple - Canadians are constitutionally entitled to grow medicine and food - without government control.

The (now former) federal government, for its part, had unveiled a list of reasons pot shouldn't be 'legal' including scientific, and fact based nuggets, such as "it's a gateway drug to harder drugs". Wow! Really hard hitting stuff, no puns intended. Former heavyweight boxing champion, George Chuvalo, who lost two sons to heroin overdoses and a wife to suicide thinks tobacco is the gateway drug. His son emphasized that fact before dying and Chuvalo has relayed his message for years now, yet the government has never acted to close this "gateway", nor created a list, despite also now knowing that the addictive nicotine laden drug also causes lung cancer.

" Tobacco is usually the first addictive poison a young person will introduce to their bodies" George Chuvalo

All successive federal governments, from my understanding, had always denied marijuana had any medical value - while at the same time holding the patent to the medical development of cannabis. This fueled conspiracy theorists that it was a cancer cure that government and big pharmaceuticals wanted to hide, and then control it, on their terms.

I'm not quite convinced on the cancer cure-all yet but I do believe there is medicinal value to be gleaned certainly - in some cases the only relief one can get - such as those afflicted with constant convulsions - so there seems no doubt now. Meantime the government has stopped issuing any more new grow licenses.

Event Poster
Vessels for use and growing
The tricky part for government is grappling control of it, given that cannabis is becoming more accepted as a medicine / treatment, and that seems covered by the peoples' right to grow it.

Thus the smoke-screens with the moral reasons for them controlling its sale and manufacture of it in forms for ingesting, such as pill, food, oil, etc. The government simply has not been good frankly at handling this part, or even growing on a quality on par as most self-growers and often lack consistency - something MMAR Repealists say they can manage much better. And that patients know what form or type works best for themselves.

For example, a person may find a certain strain seems to make them want to clean and do things, while another it made them feel groggy, but only the patient would know which side affect was affecting them and in what way, and they then would be able to adjust what product form they took to best suit their ailment.  Surely most Doctors won't have the ability to decipher that while 'prescribing". The government model would have you get what you get - and them large profits.

VIP upstairs
Another argument the government has trotted out is that it will cause crime and gang activity. Ha. Who do they think is controlling the bulk of the sales now? Even if the government tried to assert control, such as their recent attempts to clamp down on tobacco smuggling, people will still access it from the street, because it's cheaper - but not safer. So self-grown or a trusted supply of your medicine type is safer, more efficient, and stress free.

The Yappers rock out on stage
The establishment's clumsy attempts thus far at being proprietor of a medicine they claimed for years didn't exist, only exasperates the issue and so groups like the MMAR Coalition Against Repeal raising this issue in the courts and fighting a constitutional challenge is really the only way this can be decided.

It kind of reminds me of what always seems  wrong with "do-gooder" programs; for example when they leave people with lived experience off  the organizing committees and boards, resulting in ineffective programs or poor distribution of essential services. No difference. Surely this is one issue where "grass roots" input applies!?
Hey!..who ate part of this pot cookie?
The rest of the evening was an experience and a half, with an outdoor area set up for members to use their various medicines and share ideas and usage vessels, and, where I learned new terms such as Mango-melon, and what a dab was ( essentially oil made from cannabis). Lol. I also learned weed can be made into a solid butter-like substance from which "dabs' can be scraped off to be consumed for medicine without tobacco use.

In addition to the entertainment provided on this night, and the baked goods, and table munchies, solo singer keyboardist, The Lounge Lizard, also appeared onstage following The Yappers playing with unbridled passion it seemed this night, as well the hosts had an array of hip hop performers on the later slate, including somelocal aboriginal performers who rocked it!
Prizes Sponsor

The main event however, was a talk by legalize activist Jason Wilcox flown in from B.C. to address the group, and who's fight for the right to grow is where this all began. His knowledge on the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, which the government is currently trying to get enacted, is what alerted people to the issue, as essentially, he says, they are trying to remove the right for the sick and disabled to grow their own medicine while pushing the "industry" to commercial growers  expected to make patients start to pay up to 4 x what they had been previously, all for making a killing in a new taxes revenue stream.

In the best of times, I'm the world's biggest skeptic, until I see cold hard facts, and enough of them, and I'm still up in the air about some of the claims for medical marijuana - but I certainly don't deny it offers clear cut, life altering treatment in some cases and would encourage - if the government really wants to do some 'good"  that they start testing canabinboids, as well as the non psycho active C.B.D.'s, for all the various claims that people are saying its use of it is doing for them - like oil treatment for skin cancer etc - so they can be brought further into the treatment fold.
Government can't bogart the issue forever.

Just Crazy!
I met and wrote about the man who introduced John Lennon to former Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who then smoked pot with Trudeau's "Commission on Marijuana" reps, so it's certainly not new to government either. 

It seems ironic now that a prodigal son may be 'king" soon, and, when that happens, it is more likely the time for real change on this issue in Canada.

Recently, the Supreme Court sided with those choosing other methods than smoking it, and so, if you're a medical user, these may just be the horses to put your money on for this race! Watch for a MMARCAR event near you!

Peace Out!

Graffiti, Youth, Art and Tough Love

Toronto's Yorkville
Newmarket, Ontario has a Tour & Art Show coming up, offering a tour of works located at various locales around her Main St locations. Newmarket also apparently has a graffiti problem if a local paper's story is to be believed. Perhaps the event could someday become a bridge for youth to graduate in their choice of medium if you will. Or at least more respectful of where they display it.

Perfect canvass for allowing youth graffiti art
Recently, a front page Newmarket Era newspaper article focused on recent graffiti, purported to be on increase of recent times. Well, it's not like graffiti is a new's been around since long before I was born, first for war type protests before morphing into modern day messages on walls and buildings, often or mostly by a youthful 'artist". The news article featured a crime stoppers reward with a grainy surveillance photo of the "suspect" and a copy of his message....exactly what he be noticed! But that's only part of it.

Beats this canvas
Youth come from all backgrounds, and we are educated enough now to know that some kids behave certain ways for various reasons. kids act out and are punished with grounding and so forth but some are a tougher sell and often the ones who themselves have experienced some sort of trauma. Trauma such as a death or a molestation or an undiagnosed illness eating away at them. Now I'm not suggesting "hugg a thugging" these guys, but I am suggesting we engage them early before they become hardened and create ways to include them, by creating "graffiti-okay zones" and maybe linking the more interested / talented to other types of arts.

Town of Aurora Ontario's famous wall untouched
Perhaps start with having a huge designated wall available that is part of a design contest - similar to what was attempted by Myers costumes to combat graffiti after the town ordered them, yet again, to remove it. Too bad they deemed the
winning design itself a "sign" - therefore squashing the mural from being done. Too bad. I liked it.

At any rate, it's a different train of thought, but studies have proved that graffitiists are less likely to mark up a spot with a mural, and I could see bringing some into the fold once a few cool designs were up.

To start "it" off they could use a wall inside or out of a spot that fits the bill, with a design they all have a say in creating, along with getting the store owners final approval.
Guess which one is the Newmarket Youth Centre?
Not considered a sign or graffiti @ The Newmarket Youth Centre?
By today's bylaws this old Newmarket business sign would not be allowed
Winning contest wall mural rejected by Newmarket bylaws as a sign
I don't think criminalizing these youths is serving the community, as it only pushes them further 'underground' into a subculture that doesn't communicate with the everyday world, and, for some, escalates them to other real crimes in time. Crimes such as PC Corner the Main St computer store ransacked of all his best Mac laptops and other equipment over a 3 days in a row span. Despite video evidence, there's no crime stoppers reward on him, no sir, what's $20,000 worth of equipment and a new door and windows vs $20 worth of paint to a business to cover up graffiti?

One way to pull guys out of the shadows and into the light is through getting to know them, and that influence alone can sometimes be enough to reel them in close enough to affect positive change.