Hack to the Future: we check out the Halifax
legal pot scene as it will be in July 2019
The Turpin Labs time-travel division has completed its work, allowing us to REPORT EVENTS BEFORE THEY HAPPEN! The machine is not perfect, but we had an unpaid intern who was willing to test it. Here is her report.
I am reporting to you from Halifax one year in the future. Weed is legal. You can get it at the liquor store (even though a federal report warned against that), the cops have trained up as DREs (relax older men, it stands for Drug Recognition Experts), Halifax is spending a million dollars a year to harass outdoor smokers of any kind and to protect citizens from the smell of perfectly legal pot plants growing in back yards. Here is my account.
I stop by the Joe Howe St. liquor store to check out its weed outlet, as requested. I’m nervous because booze almost destroyed my life and I haven’t been to a liquor store in five years. I find the weed section right away–it’s in the back, sporting a public washroom-style storefront. The windows are mostly frosted, but a large sign above the area says “CANNABIS”.
I walk to the store-within-a-store, my heart thumping because I can see bottles of wine and whiskey floating past in my peripheral vision. I can almost taste the smoky scotch arranged row on row. Inside, I make the buy hastily. It’s something called “Relax”, pulled from a drawer by a stern, dues-paying union clerk in a starched blue shirt.
I again walk through the booze section of the store as I make my way toward the parking lot. My hand is wet as it clutches my government-approved stash. I’m cool with the weed, of course, but the sight of all that alcohol makes me sweat. My mind goes blank. When I reach my car, I discover a bottle of Ballantine’s in my hand. I lock it in the trunk, my last bulwark against falling off the wagon.
As I sit in the car craving a drink, I consider taking a toke from my new stash to calm down, but I know DRE cops are on the prowl. Too risky.
I make it home sober. I find my husband arguing with a Halifax bylaw enforcement officer, recognizable from camouflage jackboots and fatigues that make him hard to spot in parks. For sidewalk work, he has another outfit disguised as bricks and concrete.
“We don’t grow weed here,” my hubby says. “And besides, it’s legal to grow four plants.”
“Yes, but the city says the odour of the plant is a nuisance, so you can’t grow it outside. Your neighbour says he can smell four pot plants in your yard. That’s a $10,000 fine. Who should I believe, him or a pot-head?”
I jump in: “The odour is the bloody privet hedge. It’s flowering. Not everybody likes the smell.”
I turn to my husband: “I kept asking you to cut the thing back. I told you some neo-puritan pissant would think it was weed!”
The bylaw trooper’s radio makes that “bleep” noise your hear on cop shows.
“All units! All units! A pot-head and two ‘bacco-heads have been spotted smoking by the breakwater at Point Pleasant Park. Witnesses say a child is in the area.”
“Holy spliff! That could be $6,000 in fines,” the odour-patrolman says. “You two are off the hook this time, but remember, I’ll be sniffing around.” He taps his nose and then points menacingly at us before sprinting to his car.
Suddenly I notice it’s time to pick up the kids at school. I hit the road. The cops pull me over on the Bedford Highway. Why? I was driving under the speed limit.
“Nobody obeys the speed limit on Bedford Highway,” the burly one says. “Only stoners drive that carefully. We’re trained to spot that kind of thing because there’s really no reliable scientific test for weed impairment.”
“Yeah,” says the skinny one. “We used to bust pot-smokers. Now we’re DREs!”
Then he sees my NSLC weed on the console. He “seizes” it for evidence.
“Hey, you want some popcorn?” he says, shoving a bag of buttery, freshly popped corn under my nose. The smell is too much. I grab a mouthful.
“So, you’ve got the munchies,” says the big cop. “That’s strike two.”
“What’s your name?” I ask him indignantly so I can file a complaint.
He looks me right in the eye with a perfectly straight face. “Officer Lionel Longfart,” he says in a monotone
I can’t help laughing.
“Right,” says the other cop. “You’ve got the giggles. Strike three.”
They cuff me and throw me into their car, but let me phone my husband so he can pick up the kids.
At the station they take blood, urine and saliva samples. They take me into a dark room to look at my pupils. If they’re too big or too small or don’t react quickly enough, that’s bad. They also look up my nose for white powder.
Outside I see the small cop putting on rubber gloves.
“Gotta do a muscle tone test on your neck,” he says. “If they’re rigid, you’re stoned.”
“Of course they’re tense after all this crap,” I say, consciously trying to relax my neck. “But I’m good if they’re relaxed, right?”
“Nope. That can be a bad sign, too.”
Two hours later, I’m free to go. I take a long pull from the scotch in the trunk. Five years of sobriety shot to hell and no weed. I call my “illegal” dealer “from “the street”.
“Sure,” she says. “I’m just about to pick up Cassandra at her ballet class. I can drop it off on the way.”
Attention Turpin Labs: please beam me back to the present ASAP. Legal pot is not safe.
- The Final Report of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation. No co-location of alcohol or tobacco and cannabis sales, wherever possible. When co-location cannot be avoided, appropriate safeguards must be put in place.
- Costs of harassing smokers, growers $970,00. See Page 5 here)
- How Drug Recognition Experts work
- Like ‘flipping a coin’: Why it’s so hard to test drivers for pot