Remember when Tupac rapped, instead of a war on poverty, they have a war on drugs so the police can bother me?
Well last night I watched a drug bust. A friend and I were eating at a restaurant in Jean Talon market, outside on the patio with several dozen others enjoying ourselves and what not. Looking up the stairwell, we noticed navy blue legs (the cops have stopped wearing their camo suits folks), shiny black shoes and one tanned hand clutching a green plant. We watched their six limbs, three sets of legs frozen in some kind of anticipation-lock-down; then the three bodies trotted down the steps. It was a bit like a movie next, two cops had to walk through the restaurant patio still holding on to the young cannabis plant, a young white woman visibly unhappy directly behind them. But she didn’t follow them into their car, I was impressed, thinking maybe the cops just gave her a warning or something. Would it have turned out the same if she hadn't fit so neatly into the category of young white female? I can only speculate.
I do have to wonder, though, what are the cops doing worrying about marijuana for anyway? Don't they know there are much bigger drug problems affecting society, the youth? Not to mention the suffering; somebody I know who once had cancer and was understandably feeling horrible from her chemotherapy was unable to access the “compassionate care” stores that are supposed to be able to provide marijuana to chronic illness sufferers. Even though cannabis helped with many of her symptoms. And doesn't somebody growing their own plant mean the really dangerous narcotraffickers aren’t being supplied extra money, at least not by that person? And really, what about the real problems like addiction to prescription drugs, and fentanyl (although Montreal actually seems to be avoiding ‘the crisis’ better than Vancouver is. Nobody seems to know why), I’m not trying to say I don't think there’s a drug problem, in that drugs can destroy people’s lives. I know that can and does happen here.
It’s so bad I saw a cat sniffing gasoline on Saturday, I profess. Walking back from the circus performance at Place Émilie-Gamelin (an incredible show!) I could see a silhouette placed stealthily behind the exhaust pipe of a car. As I approached, I realized, this kitty is getting high! Kitty, I hissed, what are you doing? The poor thing jolted his head in my direction then took off running, as though he’d just been busted by the cops or his high school teacher. He was one of those adorable but hardened Montreal street cats. I started to feel bad, a bit ashamed of my motherly reaction to the creature. I should have just let him have his fun, you know.
Will the ‘drug war’ abate or will hard line approaches taken in places like the Philippines be adopted elsewhere? It seems unthinkable now that it could become stricter rather than more lenient. Especially Canada, which I think has never even used the language of “drug war.” But could a time soon come when they (drug cartels) have enough money to be a serious threat to democracy, or just a powerful lobby group? Such thoughts I was forced to reckon with as I weaved my way home, watching the cat scuttle across the street.