Sooo, just wondering: does anybody really give a rat's patoot if a politician has smoked marijuana at some point in their past? Late summer is traditionally known as silly season in the news biz, a label well earned for the frivolous and fantastical stories that tend to arise at this time of the year.
Tomatoes shaped like Abraham Lincoln, UFO sightings over White Rock, crop circles by the Port Mann Bridge, goats running loose in beautiful downtown Whalley. These stories crop up, make us shake our heads for a moment, and are then quickly forgotten.
Not this year. When federal Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau admitted last month that he - gasp - willingly partook of the demon herb, the foundations of buildings in Ottawa trembled.
The national press went on a moralistic frenzy questioning Trudeau's ability to lead a political party in the wake of the horrible news. The shrill response and resulting hand wringing was akin to the red scare in the 1950s where suddenly every politician was a suspect and thus felt compelled to declare their sobriety.
And for what? The fact that Little Lord Fauntleroy is no stranger to the hippie lettuce should come as absolutely no surprise. Check his birth certificate: under mother's name it reads Margaret Trudeau, a woman who wrote a book detailing her habit of smoking up when her home address was 24 Sussex Drive.
On top of that, Trudeau the Lesser worked in British Columbia after completing university - enough said.
It would be a bigger shock if young Justin said he never touched the stuff.
And here we are a month later with politicians of all stripes weighing in daily on the subject of marijuana use. In typical political fashion, most lack the guts to do what Justin Trudeau did and say, "Yeah I did, so what?" Instead we are treated to lame answers such as "I never inhaled;" or "I had a puff in college but I didn't like it;" or my personal favourite: "I didn't avoid it completely."
Ross Rebagliati's claim of second-hand smoke tainting his urine sample at the Nagano Olympics has more credibility that the greasy answers provided by our political leaders.
Here are a couple of news flashes: 1. The majority of the public has sampled pot in its assorted forms at some point in their lives and, incredibly, they continue to lead productive lives as contributing members of society.
2. The ban on marijuana in our country has not only failed miserably, it has produced a gangland culture surrounding the plant that mirrors the lawlessness last seen during prohibition when alcohol was the banned drug of choice.
3. Police tacitly signal the fruitlessness of fighting the war on pot every April when they close streets in downtown Vancouver to make it easier for citizens to gather and smoke up in celebration of 420 day.
The most inane contribution to the current flurry of political debate on the subject comes from the Surrey Board of Trade, which took the time to announce its opposition to groups advocating the legalization of marijuana.
The logic behind this stance? Well, they don't want people to show up for work high on dope.
Funny thing is, the Board of Trade's release did not mention anything about the productivity of business people returning to work after a three-martini lunch.
Nope, that's apparently not a problem because alcohol and tobacco are good drugs - they're legal and the government makes money off taxing them so our society benefits from their widespread availability.
Alcohol and tobacco are so good, in fact, we're willing to overlook niggling side effects like lung cancers, emphysema, addiction, carnage on the streets from drunk drivers, alcoholism, special cells in jails dedicated to inebriated citizens, higher health-care spending and shortened life spans, among many other hidden costs.
Conversely, scientific research into marijuana continues to reveal benefits that can be reaped from the plant in addition to making its partakers happy, hungry and temporarily useless.
Instead of going on a witch hunt trying to ferret out which politician might be smiling a little too broadly or forcing public confessions for sins of the past, our elected officials
should address the issue in a more rational way.
And if the answer they reach is to legalize it and then tax the living bejeebers out it, so be it. Then maybe they can get back to the business of running the country.
Who knows - it may turn out the province of British Columbia is richer than it thinks....
MOUNTIES HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOUR
Thumbs up to the White Rock RCMP for its contribution to the annual Zombie Walk on Saturday.
Charged with the task of providing an escort vehicle to guide the undead wannabes on their trek along Marine Drive, the Queen's Cowboys turned up in a ghost car.
Brilliant. Well played, officers.
Michael Booth can be reached at email@example.com
© Copyright 2013