POST-PROHIBITION: a parallel between the alcohol and cannabis industries
Updated: Mar 11, 2019
Cannabis is legal in Canada. Well, some forms are. Like post-prohibition times in the 1920s, not all products are available and legal right away.
Just as spirits remained under prohibition in some Canadian provinces well past the ban on beers, ciders and wines were lifted, edibles are not currently legal on the Canadian market. Prince Edward Island, for example, waited several decades before lifting all bans on alcohol, which is not the case this time around; PEI is being relatively progressive on cannabis cultivation laws and definitely in line with other provinces. In fact, some of my favourite Canadian women in weed and cannabis content creators are from the small red island including @_cANNIEbis and @fallforvee.
Luckily, provincial governments are taking a much more uniform stance on cannabis than they did on alcohol, although there are still several discrepancies particularly in the retail landscape. One of the most paramount moments in cannabis prohibition history, and my second favourite piece of judicial literature after Roe V. Wade (USA), is R. v. Parker. In the year 2000, Parker took down the blanketing ban on medical cannabis (found to be unconstitutional, just like in the case of Roe V. Wade - what is with the government and wanting to make decisions FOR its people?).
I think it is fair to say (in my humble opinion, don't @ me) that the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau is in office thanks to the plant, or his campaign promise in Surrey, British Columbia on October 1st, 2015. There, he stated that, if elected, the Liberal Government would start working on legalization as soon as they entered office. I equally think we can be as bold as the following statement: The Cannabis Act is here to stay; what remains up in the air, is the future progression of the Act.
So, back to the alcohol industry. This holiday season, you may be found sipping a glass of Merlot or perhaps enjoying a citrusy, peachy Riesling from Prince Edward County. Either way, the Vintners Quality Alliance, more commonly known as the VQA of Ontario, has got all its bases covered including a labeling standard and regulatory authority ensuring commonalities between varietals. Okay, let's go back to cannabis and the Cannabis Act. Labels? Check! Warning Signs? Check! Provincial Consumption Age? Check! One bud of Pineapple Express from the online Ontario Cannabis Store is just like another from a retail store in Saskatchewan? ...not so check. The good news is, the post-prohibition alcohol industry has almost a century on cannabis and can provide insight into the do's and don’ts of legalization.
In speaking to local winemakers, the current provincial wine authority may not allow for bolstering creativity. That being said, it is paramount in ensuring a quality product with familiar flavour notes, each blend with small key regional differences. Just like you can currently take tasting courses towards becoming a sommelier, one day, I hope to see connoisseurs describing terpene flavour notes and for consumers to partake in cannabis varietal tastings. History repeats itself and I am hopeful, with a little more activism and pruning, the Cannabis Act will be something to be proud of.
Feminist of Cannabis