I remember covering a political debate in Nanaimo many years ago during a provincial election campaign.
It was not long after I first arrived in B.C. and I was still a novice to the customs and norms of my new West Coast homeland.
The first thing that caught me off guard were the number of political parties that were participating in the election and the debates.
Where I come from, the only parties who typically ran in elections were the standard Liberals, Conservatives and the NDP.
But in B.C., there are the standard political parties, like the Liberals, NDP and the Greens, but the range of fringe parties and the candidates running for them was a whole new experience for me.
They included the Rhinoceros Party, Marxist-Leninists, Libertarians, BC Excalibur Party, BC Peoples Party and, of course, the BC Marijuana Party.
I can’t remember the name of the guy who was running for the Marijuana Party in Nanaimo at the time, but I vividly recall him taking his place at the podium, hauling a large freezer bag full of pot out of his brief case and placing it next to his microphone in full view of everyone who was in the audience.
I was blown away.
I kept looking around the crowded room expecting a collective gasp and a swarm of police and security guards to haul the candidate off to jail.
That’s what would have happened at the time where I came from.
But this is B.C. and I don’t think anyone in that room even batted an eyelash.
The debate went on as normal and at the end, the marijuana candidate casually placed his big bag of pot back into his brief case and walked out the door.
That was the first time that I saw marijuana as something that could be socially acceptable and, flash forward almost 20 years, recreational pot will be legal in Canada as of Oct. 17, 2018, even in the more conservative eastern sections of the country.
There will be all kinds of rules about where marijuana can be bought, by whom and who will licensed to grow the pot to sell to the masses in retail outlets, as there should be.
Local governments are already grabbing the bull by the horns and updating their bylaws so that they will have a say as to how many pot dispensaries will be allowed in the jurisdictions and where they will be located.
I think that’s fair.
Of course, there will be many in the community who feel that local governments should just get out of the way and let free enterprise have its way.
But no matter how benign many people feel marijuana is, it’s still a drug and it should be treated accordingly.
The Town of Lake Cowichan just amended its bylaws to ensure that council will have the last say in any application to open a pot store there, and North Cowichan is in the process of doing the same thing.
North Cowichan will be holding a public hearing on July 18 to listen to people’s concerns on the issue,
The meeting will take place in the municipality’s council chambers, located at 7030 Trans-Canada Hwy., at 1:30 p.m.
If you want in on this discussion, that’s the place to be.