The True North Strong and Pot Free —– Not

Written by Harold McNeill on December 20th, 2013. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials


 The True North Strong and Pot Free —– Not
Vancouver, April 20, 2012. 
Over 20,000 people, the largest crowd to date, attended the Four Twenty Protest.
At 4:20 pm (precisely), a sweet smelling cloud lazily drifted over the Library and across downtown Vancouver.
Twenty thousand people just had a group toke.

It has long since been ordained that the ubiquitous Mary Jane would one day become, if not legal, at the very least a controlled substance sold in Government style Liquor Stores. Marihuana grow ops will be popping up across the country like dandelions on a newly planted lawn. Now that a few States in that bastion of extreme conservatism south of the border have begun to decriminalize the substance, can the Province of British Columbia’s five billion (that’s right five, with nine zeros) pot growing industry, be far behind? For BC  this is not a trivial amount of untaxed ‘free enterprise’ money by any count.

Seeing an opportunity in this trend, Medbox Inc., a U.S. based company, is set to introduce into Canada, automatic Pot Vending Machines (PVMs) for use by those licenced to toke as permitted under the Canada Health Act (link to story).  Apparently the PVMs provide easy and secure 24 hour access. Imagine, pot on demand at your nearest 7-11. It was also reported the RCMP is looking at installing machines in their remote detachments (link). City members, of course, will be able to pop by the nearest 7-11.

For thirty years I toiled away in law enforcement that spent, and continues to spend, billions chasing down pot distributors, smokers and other soft drug users who had first infiltrated our Universities and High Schools back in the seventies and eighties. Today, we have a nation filled with middle-aged leaders who grew up savouring the flavour and the mild high that came from the pungent smoke, not to mention that induced by the TCH laced brownies.

Just think how much better our nation would be today if my comrades and I had been more successful in arresting, charging, convicting obpd officer and hippie copyand locking up all those misguided young people who dared surf against the wind? I can still see the headline in The Martlet, the University of Victoria Student Union Magazine, after the Oak Bay PD began to seriously enforce that particular “no smoking” ban.

Cartoon, Circa, November, 1968:  Chief John Green, a retired Army Regimental Sergeant Major, scans the Oak Bay Drug Enforcement Manual as he searches for strategies to bring some semblance of Law and Order back to the University of Victoria Campus.

Not many weeks after the pot enforcement brigade implemented the strategy, a headline in the Martlet screamed (in eighteen point bold letters): “Oak Bay of Pigs” a reference to our Department.

The editorial, written by a second year Law School student, Jeff Green, who has since become one of Victoria’s and British Columbia’s, leading defence lawyers, spoke to the disconnect between the students and police (I).

If government legislators and police enforcers forty years ago had been as diligent as were our neighbors to the south, there is a good possibility that particular lawyer as well as many other current leaders in government, business and industry, would today be guests of the state rather than professionals who have helped to build Canada over the past forty years.  Of course, of those who have since admitted testing the product, many stated, as did former President Bill Clinton a few years back — they did not inhale.

Given their druthers, I’m sure the Conservatives seriously regret not having had the opportunity to commence their War on Drugs and Crime thirty or forty years earlier as did the Republican and their supporters, the Moral Majority in the United States. Had that happened, the Conservatives in Canada might well have succeeded in eliminating more than a few of the high profile challengers facing them down today.

There would, of course, be other upsides to all those convictions, one being ‘domestic tourism’. Tagging thousands of young people with criminal records would have largely precluded them from international travel, particularly to the United States. No trotting off to California, Florida or Hawaii for a winter break. Such a travel restriction would have been great news for that bit of heaven we call Southern Vancouver Island, as all those ‘criminal record holding snowbirds’ made their way to the warmest place in the world to which they could travel without restriction.

Today, the pungent odour of pot wafting across our lawns and beaches, as well as at outdoor musical events, is the norm. The only thing keeping the sweet smell from indoor events is the strict “No Smoking” policy in effect in most cities. Is it not ironic that a simple bylaw has accomplished that which the Criminal Code could not?

It’s ‘high time’ that Stephen, Peter and the rest of the Conservative ‘Law and Order’ types gave up their pursuit of a pot free Canada – it’s not going to happen. Just bite the bullet boys (and a sprinkling of girls), do as you did with the gun registry – trash those stupid laws, then take a few weeks to build some reasonable constraints around a substance that has given solace to so many for so long.

The next thing you know you will be trying to push the prostitutes into the back alleys and, as for the hundreds of thousands of ‘perverts’, ‘perpetrators’  and other bottom feeders who purchase the service, I am sure you will find new ways to ‘name, shame, blame’ and lock them up forever (recent update). If you can just hold on to that majority for another few years, we could become the first nation in history to rescue all those woman by locking up every potential client. Perhaps this is all doable, but it is certainly going to take piles and piles of money and mean hiring thousands more police to enforce the law. I know it would have been simpler to just bring back stoning, but I guess you understood the Supreme Court would never stand for that.

Harold McNeill

(I) Later in life that young man became a very capable adversary with whom I often crossed swords as he worked his magic in court. Our most memorable dual was during a Drug Conspiracy trial (Humphries, et al vs the Crown). That little interlude almost derailed Lynn and I leaving to get married in Alberta in 1984. The case, which unfolded across Western Canada, has yet to be written.  In any event, that idealistic, energetic, outspoken young man (well not so young anymore), now posts “QC” after his name.


Further Reading on this blog:   Crime and Punishment: Ideology Trumps Reason



(Visited 144 times, 1 visits today)

Tags: , , , ,

Trackback from your site.

Leave a comment



  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read your life account of Pibroch excellent.
    My family mowed to Pibroch in 1942 Dad was grain buyer for Searle Grain Company lived in town for 5 years than mowed one mile East to the farm on the corner of the road from Pibroch and Hwy 44. Bro Don still lives there.I went to school with both you and Louise.


    November 15, 2021 |

    These stories brought back some sweet memories for me. a wonderful trip down memory lane . the photos were great. It has made me miss those days.


    November 15, 2021 |

    Enjoyed your story Harold Dorothy Hartman