Like most detailed people I know – I make a list and check it twice before doing anything big. While preparing for my recent excursion into Europe, and taking all of my usual travel precautions to ensure a smoke-free crossing, I hit a bit of a wall. I realized that there was a practical oversight in my planning, too close to take-off: How was I going to find Cannabis in a foreign country, safely, without speaking the native tongue? With international conversations on medicinal cannabis and full legalization, in some areas, continuing to bud, there still seems to be a sense of uncertainty to how that may look for the traveling Cannabis Connoisseurs. Flower-fueled tourism hot boxes, like Amsterdam and Colorado, have taken to regulation and taxation to promote safe access to the plant, while trying to keep profits outside of the traditional black market. Canada, nation-wide is attempting to create legislation that creates a seemingly integrated model of access points through regulated dispensaries and licensed producers, that would allow the traveling bud enthusiast to medicate during their stay, while contributing, in a real way, to the local economy.
Should this be a flexible system that more international locations need to take into consideration, both for structure and safety?
As a femme-presenting bud bunny, with a true love for pigtails and socioeconomic reform on a structural and political level, I realized the practicality of a system that had become second nature to me, in a moment where it was gone.
We, in Canada, have a serious privilege, in terms of safe access, on a much more basic level than we are highlighting. And I think it’s time re start realizing that.
After arriving at my AirBnB that mid afternoon, an anxious mess after an extended period of time in recycled air, and with no current connections in the city; I realized the immediate herbal remedy to my very real problem would resort to me, said pigtail loving, one point five language speaking, relatively tourist seeming person, having to wander my immediate city location to, essentially, find someone who looked like they may sell “drug” type things, and hope that they still considered cannabis a lucrative sale in that “area” of the market. Remembering I didn’t speak the language, had no idea what someone may be selling, and could easily be a go for someone who’s code may be as dark as their place in the market, while also feeling the social need to avoid doing things like such (don’t go to other countries and fuel their “underground” if you wouldn’t do it at home, folks), I decided to just breathe it out and talk through it with a friend, while waiting for the ability to Google, and briefly rethinking my decisions of not getting the doctor to give me a normal travel prescription, as suggested. I remember telling my friend how I wish I could just go into a dispensary, and grab a soothing Indica dominant without having to worry about anything. I wasn’t being selfish, and asking for Canna Sutra to rain from the sky, but in a moment where my traditional mode of medication wasn’t available to me, I realized how much I rely on the infrastructure that we have in Vancouver as a backup, and how important the aspect of physical safety was to me, and how comfortable I actually felt with knowing that I always had a safe place to go within a reasonable distance.
Eventually I calmed down enough to resort to, quite literally, goggling “Safe Access to Cannabis” and local slang terms for “Weed”, and Reddit came through with a Park, Locations, and relatively specific instructions on how to Carmen Sandiego my way to who would be your “friendly neighborhood pot (only) dealer, in an open and safe area. Luckily this held me over until the other troops came in, but I was still left with the important realization that I hold with me, even now that I’m back in the city. I think there’s so much focus on what there is to gain sometimes from a profit and political stance, that, yet again, the bigger picture forgets to reflect on the medicating Miss Jane’s. There is a base level of comfort that you get as a woman, walking into a place that is secure and has security, while there is traditionally, a lack of regard for that safety in the black market and in the dark alleyways of sometimes even the most friendly of “pot dealers” areas. Knowing at home that I’m almost always within a half hour commute of a tax-paying storefront, that I can walk into openly, will have what I need, and be more likely to be complimented on my wardrobe than ogled at for it – it’s a necessary safety that I think even the Jane in all of us forget, until that net is gone.
I’m beyond happy that Canada seems to want to keep this ,now visible, safety net, and I hope they see the bigger picture beyond just profit and a narrow view of safe access. I’m hoping that as we move forward, and as other places in the world lead by example, that other countries, regardless of their tourism status, will see the importance of creating a system that provides quality and safety, and recognizes how that benefits everyone in the community. It’s about high hopes for all tokers.