Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

So here we are, a month later and still the sky hasn’t fallen. The roads are not blocked by cars racing each other at 3 kms. per hour down University Avenue. The sidewalks are not littered with semi-comatose youth giggling uncontrollably. The police haven’t been swamped with calls to out of control parties in the upwardly mobile parts of town. Nope, it’s all much the same, even after Canada decriminalized marijuana.

It was all a bit bedraggled, as one might expect from a process so long in the anticipation. At our local store one fellow waited in line for three hours, just so he could have the distinction of being the first person on PEI to buy legal pot. He was not young, probably in his fifth decade, and he admitted to having sometimes inhaled in his younger days. I know this because he was interviewed by our local TV station. It all seemed totally appropriate when he was interviewed a second time, on the way out, and we discovered that he hadn’t been allowed to make a purchase because his ID had expired. At least he was the first to cross the threshold, and if it were New Year he’d be lauded as the first-footer.

Everyone else in the initial line-up got served, and a conversation started as to why Customer One had needed to be ID’d in the first place, as he was patently over 21. It turned out that the shop was scanning everyone’s driver’s licence or whatever. They said they weren’t keeping the data, but nobody really believed them, and when a computer geek checked the hand-held scanner he found that the data were being stored for “up to 48 hours.” So that caused a bit of a ruckus and they stopped scanning.

Apparently they still were checking everyone’s ID at the door, though, in a sort of vestibule before you were allowed inside. So that started another conversation, about how as pot was now legal it should be treated the same as booze, and people should only be required to show proof of age if they looked under 30. I think that’s what they’re doing now. I use words like ‘apparently’ and ‘think’ because I haven’t been in there yet. I just haven’t had time to even drop in for a look at how it’s set up.

When I do, I’m going to have to take cash. There’s some degree of concern about credit card and debit card data being ‘readable’ on both sides of our border with the US. The fear is that if a border agent asks you, “Have you ever smoked pot?” and you say, “What, me, officer? Of course not!” then he’ll be able to have a look on his computer and say “Oh, so this fifty bucks you dropped at FIGR (Cannabis PEI), what’s that for then?” So that’s still got to be worked out, as although some states have long permitted and legalized marijuana, it’s still illegal at the federal level in the US.

Interesting times.

One of the unanticipated consequences of the whole thing has been the challenge which legalized dope has brought to the world of etiquette. Specifically, dinner parties. For example, we had one last week, there were a dozen or so people over for a big roast beef dinner on the Sunday night after our fund-raiser. I was especially proud because the vegetables – leeks, carrots, parsnips – had all come from our garden, and everything except the wine and some of the cheese was from within 50 kilometers of town. Anyway, after the cheese course I brought out the usual suspects – some single malt, brandy, liqueurs, and so forth. Then I wondered – should I have gone to the shop and bought some joints to put out as well?

And when people had arrived, they had given Sally some chocolates or flowers or wine as a hostess gift. In future, would it be appropriate to bring a gram or two? We’ve not really had that conversation yet, as far as I know, so any ideas would be welcome!

So here we are, a month after decriminalization day and all is well with the world. The government is making money from the new taxes, and some others are making money in this new business. The initiative I like best so far was started by a small restaurant two doors down from the dope shop. I was in there for lunch the other week and noticed that he now has three menus on the table – the regular menu, the lunchtime specials, and the Munchies Menu! It turns out the owner is from Nepal, where they know a thing or two about marijuana, and he figures people who smoke dope crave certain types of foods. And so now he’s offering them, no doubt in the hope that people will stop by on their way to, or from, the retail outlet and grab some munchies before heading home for round two.

Or three.


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