1. Profiting from injustice

When I was in high school and college I participated in a few bong circles, where inevitably some stoner dude would start philosophizing. “Man, the only reason pot is illegal is they haven’t figured out a way to make a profit out of it,” stoner dude would say, then take another hit. He’d hold it for a bit, then exhale contemplatively before continuing. “Think about it. Anyone can grow pot in their backyard. Where’s the profit in that? But if corporations could sell it like beer, it’d be completely legal.”

Yea, whatever, I thought as I reached for the Doritos. I had seen enough paranoid stoner dudes not to take their pronouncements seriously.

Fast forward a few decades, and consider Aaron Beswick’s profile of Greg Wilson in today’s Chronicle Herald. Wilson is embarking on a $12 million renovation of the old Clairtone factory in Stellarton, which he will use to house operations of Vida Cannabis Corporation, a Health Canada-approved facility for growing medical marijuana.

The background: last year the Conservative government passed legislation that made it illegal for anyone with a medical marijuana licence to grow marijuana at home or to acquire it through another registered home grower. Instead, all medical marijuana users will have to buy the drug through Health Canada-approved mega-grow projects like Wilson’s. That law was to come into effect on April 1 but is now tied up in the courts, though with millions of dollars at play the plan is clear: medical marijuana can only be produced by profit-making giant corporations.

Further, Wilson sees that the legalization movement will likely succeed. “Health Canada predicts [medical marijuana] to grow to a $1.4-billion annual market in a decade, but if it is legalized for recreational use, the prediction is for a $6.7-billion market,” Wilson tells Beswick. You can almost hear him rubbing his hands together in glee as he counts the potential profits.

Funny how that works, eh? We need to make it illegal for sick people to grow marijuana in their backyards because some of the pot might be used—horrors!—recreationally, so we bring multi-million-dollar corporations into the picture. But those very same multi-million-dollar corporations are already planning to, yep, sell to recreational pot users.

Looks like the paranoid stoner dude was right: it really is all about corporate profit.

This would be tragically funny were we not destroying real people’s lives along the way. Beswick relates the real pain and struggles of one of them:

“They can kiss my ass,” Tony Beare said Wednesday.

The Sambro resident and former nurse received a medical marijuana prescription eight years ago. He has a rare condition that causes him to urinate more than 120 times a day.

He uses a vaporizer to smoke an average of five grams a day that he says has resulted in him urinating only about 60 times daily.

“That’s allowed me to enjoy my life to a limited extent — I was able to drive to Moncton to visit my grandkids for the first time in four years,” said Beare.

It costs him about $2.75 per gram to grow his own.

He said buying it from a Health Canada-approved supplier costs about $13 a gram.

That’s more than he can afford on the $2,000 he receives monthly for his disability.

“So you think about it — drug dealers who grow it illegally on a small scale and have to hide from the police can sell it for about $9 a gram,” he said.

“And these big companies growing it in factories are selling it for $13. That’s robbery. They’re a bunch of drug dealers.”

Multiply Beare’s experience by thousands. Add in all the people rotting in jails and prisons for committing the very “crime” that Wilson is gleefully contemplating legally making millions from. Think of the broken families, the financial and emotional anguish of people caught up in the legal system.

Our laws around marijuana are a perversity. It is the exact opposite of a justice system. The entire system—from the cops who spend bizarre amounts of time hiring confidential informants and planning and executing SWAT-style raids on nonviolent people harming no one, to the prosecutors hauling people through years of Kafkaesque legal proceedings and kangaroo courts, to the judges who stroke their ever-wise chins while ruining people’s lives, to the capitalists who have monetized human suffering and the financiers who bankroll the extraction of profit from it, right down to the public that won’t call evil by its rightful name when they see it—the entire system is contemptible.

2. Union solidarity breaks

CUPE, the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, and Unifor have broken ranks with the NSGEU and are supporting a bargaining association approach.

3. Arrest of Jason MacLean

The arrest of Jason MacLean, vice-president of the NSGEU, outside Province House Tuesday night was inappropriate, says Paul McKenna, an academic who studies policies procedures in demonstrations.

4. Accessible taxis

A city staff proposal to require that the entire taxi fleet be made wheelchair accessible has been put on hold for more study. Taxi companies say that seniors who don’t use wheelchairs don’t like the vans because they’re harder to climb into than sedans. I think also there is a bureaucratic mix-up that is adding to drivers’ concerns—I’m told the province is bankrolling the purchase of accessible taxis for some drivers but not others, which creates a competitive problem. A low-floor accessible taxi fleet makes sense, but my sense is implementation of a policy to achieve that goal hasn’t been thought out well.

5. Opt-out reversed

The Chronicle Herald has apologized to its subscribers for its mean-spirited opt-out price increase.


1. Busting unions is unfair

Claire McIlveen brings much needed detail to the nurses’ union issue.



Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council (6pm, Cole Harbour Place)—not much on the agenda. A car wash and a relatively small (eight units) apartment building are proposed.

On Campus


Thesis defence, Biology (1:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building)—PhD candidate Kate Crosby will defend her thesis, “The Phylogeographic History and Contemporary Evolution of the Invasive Species Avena barbata Pott ex Link in California.”

Bitcoin (1:30pm, Rowe 1014)—Quinn DuPont will argue that bitcoin is here to stay.

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Seminar (4pm, Theatre D, CRC Building)—Sherri McFarland will talk on  “Moving Metal-Based Photosensitizers for Photodynamic Therapy from Concept to Reality.”

Launch of Sue Campbell’s book (4:30pm, University Club Pub)—Campbell was a smart Dalhousie philosopher, a deep thinker and a good person, missed by everyone who knew her, including myself.  Her book, “Our Faithfulness to the Past: The Ethics and Politics of Memory,” is edited by Christine Koggel and Rockney Jacobsen, and is being published posthumously.


Photo: NOAA
Photo: NOAA

As we mostly ignore climate change, sea creatures who rely on the Arctic ice pack can’t. ThinkProgress reports:

An estimated 35,000 walrus have come ashore in record numbers on a beach in northwest Alaska for lack of better ground. As climate change warms the atmosphere, summer sea ice in the Arctic is diminishing, likely stranding these walrus from their preferred sea ice outposts.

In the harbour

Ships around Nova Scotia at 6am this morning. Source:
Ships around Nova Scotia at 6am this morning. Source:

(click on vessel names for pictures and more information about the ships)


Neerlandia, general cargo, Moa, Cuba to Pier 27
Royal Princess, cruise ship, Saint John to Pier 22
Carnival Splendor, cruise ship, Saint John to Pier 31
Astir Lady, tanker, New Orleans to Imperial Oil


Fulmar to sea
Royal Princess to New York
Carnival Splendor to New York

Of Note:

The cruise ship Veendam was due today, but the cruise has been cancelled and the ship is sitting in Quebec with  a Propeller issue. The last time the Veendam visited Halifax it used tugs to dock, which is unusual for cruise ships given the thrusters and azipods they employ.

Last night, the Tall Ship Silva, with 51 people on board, lost power and had to be rescued by the Coast Guard.


I’ve been doing a lot of research for various stories lately, so a bit slow on the publishing. Hopefully I will catch up soon.

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. It would be helpful if the events section of the page (On Campus) had events occurring the next day as well as today’s events. I keep seeing events I’d like to attend but unless I know about them a day or two before they occur, I can’t make plans to attend. For example, I’d love to attend the talk on Bitcoin today but now it’s too late to change my schedule. But if I known about it yesterday then I could have.

    1. That actually would be helpful. And thanks, Tim, for the reminder of Sue Campbell’s book launch. She was, as you point out, a good person, and missed.

  2. I found the “Bong circle philosopher” story very enlightening, straightforward and clear. (Read while drinking tea.)
    This issue has an added slant for me as the parent of two teens.

    On the union story… Historically, when unions clash, it gets violent. I can’t say I’m looking forward to that.

    1. Nova Scotian unions have contested countless run-off votes of rank-and-file workers required by seemingly endless “reforms” of healthcare and municipal amalgamations and “re-organizations”. No violence resulted. The notion of it getting violent is without factual basis — unless members of a police union are involved, such as the bullying takedown arrest of Jason McLean this week.

  3. Profiting from injustice:

    Profit is a distraction (there is always a distraction a la Houdini). The real reason pot is illegal is because it enlightens.
    And how could one make an enlightened population fight illegal wars or be slaves to the lending institutes or allow the destruction of the capabilities of their children through a mind-controlling education system? One couldn’t.

    1. Enlightens in the same way that liquor fortifies maybe.

      The problem is that if one can legally buy it, and use it, one should be able to grow it. I don’t see it as different than tea in that way.

      There was a conceen in Alaska that legalizing it would adversely affect prison and law enforcement revenues; and that there’s no way to detect a high driver.

      If the law industry is dependent on prohibition creating criminals, that’s an issue. If you can’t tell they’re high, does it matter? The stereotype is that a high driver is paranoid and goes 10km below the limit and drives perfectly. Thats not a bad thing in my mind. I can’t tell whether a driver is using caffeine or nicotine either. And its legal to drive on codiene.

      Its a political issue more than anything; there’s an entire generation of baby boomers trained to correlate marijuanaas a step up to cocaine. It was their generations communism or terrorism; an intangible thing to rally against, a war that cab never be won, so will never end.

      Those same baby boomers vote. May explain why their opinion is better represented.

      Inb4 pothead, I don’t smoke or toke.

  4. The observation about vans being more difficult for seniors is spot-on. My parents both have physical issues that affect mobility without requiring assistive devices (two artificial knees for my dad, degenerative disc disease for my mom). Having to climb up into a vehicle is very difficult and painful for them, and they wouldn’t be able to do it on a regular basis.

  5. Let’s not forget the mess that large scale factory farming has created in all other sectors of agriculture, or the climate-change-producing energy demands of grow lamps…. (Bong Philosophers)
    Distributed growing would be less energy intensive, my intuition says, but I’d like to have research to back that up.