Liberty on the long weekend

I find myself thinking about liberty on this long weekend between the summer months of July and August (the sweet spot of summer). I find myself grateful to live in a country where I am free to worship in manner of my choosing, to speak freely without fear, to question those in power, and to consume chemicals which alter my brain chemistry.

This weekend, my poison of choice is the pride of Ireland: Guinness. How wonderful it is for adults to make the decision to enjoy this imported drug. It tastes good too!

I find myself also thinking about Marc Emery who was arrested on Friday by the RCMP at the request of the US DEA and how this appears incongruent (at least to me) for countries such as Canada and the United States to do this when they supposedly love “liberty”.

Facing extradition to the United States, Marc faces three charges: conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana seeds and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

These charges stem from Marc’s online marijuana seed company, which operated in B.C. with impunity for about ten years. The DEA is upset that about 75% of Marc’s online customers were American.

I remember thinking, when I was younger, that stores that sold items promoting marijuana use (pot lighters, pot t-shirts) should face sanctions. After all, these stores, in my opinion, were promoting a lifestyle that is arguably detrimental to society. When I grew up, I realized that individual choice (of adults) in a truly free society trumps what any tyrannical child might impose otherwise. In the end, if we wanted to benefit society, the government would raise our children in state-run daycares, give us all government jobs, ban alcohol and caffeine, and would mandate daily exercise. But then in what kind of country would we live? It all sounds rather socialist to me.

I admire the United States for the various struggles in which it has faced that ultimately forged the nation as a free country. “No taxation without representation”, “Live free or die” and “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are all inspiring mottos and any country that wishes freedom and liberty for its citizens would do well to live up to them. Our southern neighbour and ally is generally considered to be the freest country on the globe. However, their current push to extradite Marc Emery’s from Canada to face these charges challenges this notion of America’s paragon status of liberty.

This DEA action also leaves me unsettled because at its root, it is quite political. The decriminalization of marijuana is a heated and current issue and it is no secret that America is watching this quite closely. Emery is arguably the most public advocate for “liberalization” (root: liberty) of marijuana laws and he’s the leader of the most active (and prominent) political party fighting for this issue (the BC Marijuana Party). The RCMP, at the request of the alien DEA, raided the HQ of the BCMP. This upsets me as an advocate for democracy and the free and open discussion of ideas without persecution.

In America, the second amendment guarantees the right to bear arms. This amendment was born out of the colonists’ struggle for freedom ‘against tyranny’ from the British Empire. The fight for freedom begot freedom and now Americans have the right to buy and carry guns. Advocates and defenders of the second amendment will tell you “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Yes, killing people is abhorrent, but the right to the tools of self-defense is at the foundation of liberty. Gun manufacturers aren’t guilty when one of their products is used illegally (or when guns get into the hands of children). Equally, Marc Emery should not be guilty of “conspiracy to manufacture marijuana” for selling seeds.

The selling of those seeds landed Marc the charge of “conspiracy to distribute marijuana seeds”. Like alcohol, marijuana is a soft drug and is relatively inert when enjoyed consensually by adults. Psilocybin (magic mushrooms) is illegal to cultivate, sell and consume in Canada and in the US . Unlike marijuana, this drug has hallucinogenic effects and is therefore “harder”. Here is a website of a company, based in San Antonio Texas, that sells Psilocybe spores with impunity. The company asks that you do not cultivate and grow the spores into mushrooms but rather use their product “for scientific research”.

Marc is free of any Canadian criminal charge, yet this weekend he being detained in a correctional facility until he can face American charges in British Columbia. This acute alien challenge to a current Canadian political discussion has me unsettled as a defender of our sovereignty. As a Conservative, I consider it an affront to my liberty (and yours) for any government to feel that it is responsible for protecting me from me.

The summer heat, the DEA, and this Guinness has gotten me quite agitated.

Maybe I should have a smoke.