Canada's War on Weed

2013, Drugs  -   43 Comments
Ratings: 8.85/10from 33 users.

In the wake of legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado, VICE went to Canada's pot capital to get a glimpse of the current state of the industry in this country.

If you like to get high, there's a good chance you've heard of BC Bud. Back in the '70s, draft dodgers brought their seeds to British Columbia, which happened to have a perfect climate for cultivation.

The development of stronger strains higher in THC, an unprotected border with the US, and lax Canadian laws enabled the industry to generate revenues today estimated at close to $7 billion a year in British Columbia alone.

This is a province with a population of only 4.5 million accounting for over 40% of Canada's marijuana industry. Everything is set to change since Prime Minister Stephen Harper instated Bill C-10, the new tough on crime legislation.

Now the government is armed with mandatory minimum sentences and super-prisons to fill, helping to ramp up Canada's war on drugs.

VICE went west to talk to the people directly affected by these recent events: from the legalization activists and the large and small scale growers, to the illegal traffickers and law enforcement.

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43 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Gooch Guttau

    War on drugs just helps the drug deals make more money and cost the government more. The drug dealer don't have a budget like the police forces and most of the police force just works for the drug dealers stop the nonsense save the country some money stop the war. Then give the savings to people that really need it like veterans and homeless.

  2. Joe Cameron

    Stephen Harper, would you please leave cannabis smokers alone!

  3. Martin Kaneva

    The cannabis sure has helped me in my battle with late stage stomach cancer. Appetite stimulation, pain reliever, anti nausea, and mood stabilizer.

  4. awful_truth

    Consider the following contradictions:
    1) 'alcohol, and drugs'; no, alcohol is a drug, and likely the worst one of them all, by any measurable reasoning, including scientific studies. Thus, the language supports the justification of the contradiction within society.
    2) Effects of alcohol. Impaired thinking, impaired motor skills, domestic/violent behaviour, (liquid backbone) etc. The history of violent reaction to prohibition itself, compared to that of the 'pothead' response speaks volumes.
    3) Huge populations die every day from pharmaceutical medicines, and alcohol (side effects, overdose) while marijuana has never been proven to have killed anyone.
    So, why are these items legal, when marijuana is not?
    1) Racism: Marijuana was made illegal because it falls under the opiod act, which was put in place to single out the chinese who had settled in B.C after the creation of the railway (opium users) and were taking everyone's jobs, because they would work for a tenth of what everyone else would.
    2) Hemp was a threat to cotton production (business interests) because it one of the strongest fibers known to man, grew under extreme conditions, and had multiple applications. (clothing, paper, medicine, etc)
    3) Marijuana was a threat to the pharmaceutical industry, because it grew naturally, and was easily accessible. (note: the same company that created heroin and sold it to 40 countries around the world were lambasted for what they had done, which they later replaced with aspirin.)
    4) Marijuana has peaceful, reflective, and creative effects on how people think. Alcohol and intelligence, however, do not go hand in hand. Thus, it is much easier to divide, and conquer the public if the people are squabbling with one another, and not paying attention to what the government is really doing. Furthermore, war is the biggest business going, and you can't get the potheads riled up, unlike the drunks, who can be brainwashed to be patriotic, and fight military incursions elsewhere for elite, corporate, and banking interests.
    Ultimately, in a perfect world, no one should use any drugs unless it is for medicinal benefits, however, we don't live in a vaccuum, in which case you take the lesser of 2 evils. Since greed (evil) is running the world, you now have your answer as to why the worst drugs are legal, and the relatively harmless ones are illegal, and the laws reflect this precisely. Any questions? take care everyone, and best wishes!
    P.S: I would love to see Oprah, Ellen Degeneres, etc who promote their love of alcohol, and drink on their own shows, spark a joint, and see how long they stay on the air! (you get a pound, and you get a pound, and you get the point!)

  5. Rocky Racoon

    Harper is a pure NeoConservative. Theif and political opportunist. He will do or say anything to anyone to further his own ends at that particular moment. His PLAN for Canada. SMASH ORGANIZED LABOUR, LOWER WAGES, PRIVATIZE. And he will Bankrupt this country to do it turning us into another Greece without the protests that he will not tolerate. Wait I said he was a neocone yes but under every neocon is a FASCIST. Can you say PINOCHET? That is Harper.

  6. John Michael Defalque

    It does make a great tea, but I would never smoke it. I am not a celebrity so I can't afford to pay $1,600 a lb for that weed and to think it may have been smuggled in a charger up someone's butt makes it very unpalatable. The law is an ass.The last 3.5 yrs of the Great Depression, I have been making my own booze, I encourage everyone else to do the same.

    1. kyle carrington

      LOL too funny

  7. avd420

    I have multiple options for who I get my weed from, I get it delivered or can go out on the streets and buy it, I've smoked almost everyday for the last 12 years, anywhere I want, other than the times I got clean for work, I have traveled by plane and car across this country with weed, I have never been arrested or fined for possession or use. There sure is a WAR on weed here in Canada.

    1. kyle carrington

      .. now if you had been drunk, or drinking in each and every one of those situations, you'd probably have no driver's licence, a lesser job, a horrible reputation, perhaps no relationship - fewer friends LOL - and yet - booze is the legal substance...

  8. TheDanishViking

    The mayor of Copenhagen is again trying to legalize weed, but unfortunately the Danish government is still too chicken to allow it. The argument is partly that legaliztion will undermine the drug policies in Sweden...

  9. bringmeredwine

    This site is so educational.
    I live in Ontario, thee most anal province in Canada.
    I never knew private citizens in BC could grow weed in their own homes to supply prescription marijuana.
    (and of course, that's ALL they're doing!)
    I thought prescription marijuana was grown on factory farms under the eagle eye of the government.
    These Mom and Pop operations must have to guard their plants 24 hours a day.
    I wouldn't dare try to buy weed now, but in my youth I never gave it a second thought, (I lived in Montreal).
    Weed is always available for free here in social situations, like while camping or at get togethers, but I rarely partake; I find the stuff is way too strong now, compared to what I smoked in the Stone Age.
    Instead of feeling carefree and giggly, I just want to curl up and go to sleep.

    1. oQ

      Half of Ontario is moving out least it would appear this way around here.

    2. bringmeredwine

      If it wasn't for my partner, I would have left a long time ago.
      My family and friends from Montreal all ended up in BC or Alberta years ago.
      Where I live in Ontario is beautiful and rugged, but EVERYTHING I enjoy doing is breaking some by- law.

    3. oQ

      Bring your partner once, she may not want to go back.

    4. bringmeredwine

      It's a HE, and I am a SHE (but you gave me a good laugh!
      No, he's totally set in his ways and refuses to even take a short trip out of the province.
      Believe me, I've tried.
      I go to see my parents in BC and my best friend in Calgary, every year.

    5. Roy Nusser

      Stone(r) ages ;)

    6. r murphy

      good point, the new strains allow the use of only a tiny amount to get the desired effect, try one puff and wait. no need to smoke four joints to get high, enjoy

    7. bringmeredwine

      Even in the old days, all I needed was the tiniest bit!
      One time, I ate too many brownies: Oh my God!
      Then we had unexpected company arrive!!!!
      You're right.
      Maybe some day I'll have the chance to do it again!

    8. djc200

      Educational indeed. BC's losing their salmon (ref Salmon Confidential), so weed becomes the cash crop.

  10. MarkeeXX

    These people are so stupid. The U.S. saw a market and went for it. And since the U.S. pretty much owns Harper they can easily corner the market by making sure he cracks down on pot in BC while they finally loosen their laws.
    The CIA is quite satisfied with their profits from opium which they're currently in Afghanistan for. They realized that it was mainly Canada profiting off of weed so they don't care. They converted it into a legit industry and made sure Harper did the opposite so they could take over.

    Anyone who thinks Harper isn't completely controlled by U.S. interests needs to pull the bong out of their mouth.

    1. wald0

      The U.S. is far from turning marijuana into a legit industry.. We only have two states that have legalized and it is still illegal on the federal level no matter where you are. The federal government has already gone into California and busted several medical marijuana grow operations after the state voted to make medical use and these grow operations that supply it legal. Trust me, you guys will legalize before we do. Besides, medical users are not allowed to cross the border and buy, especially not if they are going to bring the stuff back into their own country when they return. In other words we can't take your marijuana business, it is impossible. Yes, America obviously controls Harper but, the goal of that control is much more insidious than stealing your marijuana businesses.

  11. pwndecaf

    All the great progressive ideas either came from or went to Canada. Please send some back this way again!

  12. wald0

    This is not out of character for conservatives. As much as they preach the doctrine of liberty and freedom they have always wanted to control not only what we put into our own bodies but our family and sex lives as well. They want to tell us who can marry and who can't, when or if we can use birth control and contraceptives, whether a woman has the right to choose abortion or not, and what we put into our bodies. This isn't new, they have been aiming for these things every since Reagan and the far right teamed up in the eighties. Conservatives are all for freedom, as long as you are a white, westernized, christian and limit your choices to those they deem acceptable.

    Poor Canada, the disease that is America is creeping over your borders more and more every day. i used to say i would like to move to Canada but, now i think it will just be another America soon. Next they will start trying to convince you guys how much better the private sector is at providing services like health care, don't buy it.

    "Would you like to see Britannia Rule again, my friend?
    All you have to do is follow the worms."

    1. tomregit

      I agree with most of what you have said. We are on a path mirroring the US in a five to ten year time delay with a crackdown on "crime" and the building of more prisons to accommodate the expected influx of prisoners (if you build it they will come). However, in a strange reversal, the police in BC seem more liberal in their actions than the current government.

      The sharp turn to the right in Canadian politics began after years of almost continuous Liberal government. In the 2006 election the Liberal Party of Canada was eviscerated after numerous scandals which often occur when any party is in office with little opposition for too long. The Liberal Party then stumbled along under the leadership of a series of grey, feckless leaders which allowed the Conservatives, after two minority governments, to finally form a majority government. The Liberal Party was left in tatters and the NDP, who have always been a bit player on the large stage, became the official opposition, perhaps by default. Following a series of inept and incompetent leaders the Liberals have recently elected a new leader, Justin Trudeau, to take them into the next election cycle. I will let others pass judgement on him and say only that he is a much younger man with a debating style and charisma that is much like that of his father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

      There will be a federal election in 2015. It may prove to be a watershed moment with the long term future of Canada at stake.

      I have tried to make this historically accurate, hopefully without my biases showing, to provide a historical backdrop for non Canadians to better understand how we got here.

    2. wald0

      Wow, just the opposite has happened here. The conservatives were in power for quite awhile and recently lost control to the liberals. The problem is that here those are just labels to preoccupy the masses. In reality this is a corporatocracy ran by big business, the one percent, whatever you want to call them. Both parties want to expand executive powers, keep us in a war, and reduce individual rights. It really doesn't matter who we put in office it all goes the same, they just have different talking points. That is why I say you guys should do something now, before the system itself becomes the problem.

    3. over the edge

      that statement reminds me of something i heard a while ago concerning the superficial differences in the parties (paraphrased)

      the difference between the conservatives and the liberals is akin to the differences between getting mugged by a crack head and getting swindled by a beautiful con artist. in both cases you end up feeling violated and your money is gone, but the second choice is somehow more appealing

    4. Nik Bloxham

      ah someone else who knows....the Canadian and American govern ments[control the mind ] are private registered every election is really an illusion of democracy....what I call democrazy.....Because what you are voting for is the CEO . It is the same eagle flying in the direction of big business...and yes war is business .it
      .dont matter what "wing" you vote for

    5. Tim Chisholm

      Our provincial government (The BC Liberal Party) Liberal in name only, just got themselves re-elected for another 4 years using the totally negative ad styling's of the Republican party stateside. They've been screwing with our heath-care system among other things and privatizing segments of it. We are not happy campers up here.

    6. tomregit

      The Liberal Party of BC is the most conservative liberal party in this country. And what a twisted description that is. I voted for the Green Party candidate in my riding. Currently that is nothing more than a de facto protest vote, therefore, people like me may well have cost some NDP candidates a victory. If so it is unfortunate, but I just couldn't see Adrian Dix as our premier. Keeping the "Liberals" in power was the last thing I wanted. Their Leader, Christie Clark, failed to win a seat in legislature!

    7. Kateye70

      Well said, wald0!

      I find it ironic that Republicans blame Obama for the results of their own policies, although lately I've been wondering whether he isn't a closet Republican...

  13. Paul Gloor

    There are certainly obstacles to legalization, even within a medical framework. Fraudulent claims etc would abound. I absolutely agree it should be legalized and regulated, but seriously, how many folks would be able to resist the temptation to fill orders in the back alley and how many official folks would find a new market for kickbacks and bribes ?

    1. oQ

      It's already happening.
      I agree it should be legalized and non regulated, seriously how many folks would be able to resist the temptation of growing a plant or two in their front yard and sell it or trade it like tomatoes, no kickbacks and no bribes.

    2. Paul Gloor

      I would most definitely grow a plant or two myself and save the harvest for me and my pals, just like I've been researching hydroponics and indoor gardening, almost always finding something about weed growing, to enjoy the abundance of fresh produce. :D
      I've actually been considering one plant now, just cause, but mandatory minimums for an experiment in gardening isn't exactly my cup of tea, and you never know whos gonna take an objection and open their mouth.
      I can just imagine the garage sales now... visit a garage sale, smoke a free joint, buy everything :P

    3. oQ

      1 plant is easy to grow hidden....
      Once your plant starts growing, slightly bend it and tie it sideway and tame it to grow laying down. It will be easy to hide. Adjust the ties at times. All the branches wiil start growing up with the trunk sideways. It will keep the height of the plant to a foot or so, at this stage you can prune all the very small non productive branches.
      Buy good chicken manure (from a farmer is best) throw 6 inches in a pale, cover with water and let sit for a bit (remake as needed) and use a bit of that shite tea on your plant's base every day until budding time, (too much the leaves will turn yellow).
      Find a friend who has clones, then you're sure your one and only plant will be female.

    4. tomregit

      I completely agree with you. The only problem with selling would arise with the sale to minors. The "optics" of this would be very bad.

    5. tomregit

      Forget about the medical framework. The only regulation I would like to see would be similar to the regulation of alcohol. Anything beyond that, I would deem excessive.

    6. skibee

      that's why the gov. has no bizness regulating weed....

  14. 1concept1


  15. Sieglinde Proctor

    Money is being wasted chasing down, prosecuting and imprisoning folks over a plant. Of all the needs Canada and the U.S. have right now, the crime I see is the obscene waste of money over the pot issue. If pot smokers were breaking the laws all over the place and it was because of pot, that would be one thing. Do as they did with liquor. Legalize it, tax it, and let's get on down the road from this issue.

  16. dmxi

    but no matter how who conceives's a better 'america',an ideal the yanks should convey to their standards,only my opinion!

  17. oQ

    The only thing i see that should truly be against the law is the guy talking on his phone while driving at 6 min....back on...

    Awesome looking grow style at 9 min, never seen it quite like this even though i've seen hydroponic.

    Grand Forks maire making a lot of sense again!

  18. oQ

    Is it even safe to post a comment here, being from Nelson BC and knowing some of the industry's arteries? In fact who doesn't around Nelson?
    I'll watch, i wish i had met the guy from VICE.

  19. dmxi

    just the idea of banning,demonizing & controlling a 'plant' is just would be laughable but the cooperate governmental executive has a painful card to play & that being the ability to incarcerate harmless citizens as a menace to society!