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CANNABIS CULTURE – My name is Neil Magnuson, I am the founder and director of the Cannabis Substitution Project which is now in its 3rd year of providing free “care packs” of high dose Cannabis edibles to people on the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, to offset and replace the use of opioids and street drugs that are killing people at an alarming rate for the past few years.

As a “rights activist” my concern is about freedom, with my goal being the recognition by governing bodies of the “natural rights” of every individual adult to be free.
The attempts by governing bodies to prohibit or restrict access to Cannabis (and other plant and herbal  medicines) is the most obvious and glaring example of governments not respecting our natural rights, as Cannabis is one of the most benign, beneficial and valuable plants found in nature.
Our natural rights are not bestowed upon us by others and they supersede and overrule laws and restrictions placed on us by these governing bodies.
Natural rights allow for the freedom to do or not do as we choose as individuals as long as we do not harm others.
They also come with a natural “responsibility” to not only do no harm but to do what you can to prevent harm being done by others.
These natural rights have globally and historically been violated by governing bodies so that it’s clear they can never be trusted. Citizens need to be constantly vigilant to curb the abuses of power that happen.
The violations of our rights is what drives me as an activist and the attempt to prohibit and restrict Cannabis is my lead issue.
If you are not free to grow, access or consume Cannabis you are certainly not “free”
Governing bodies do have a role to play in regulating the production and distribution of things that pose a risk and cause harm but those regulations need to be reasonable, evidence based and balanced with respect to human rights. They also need to fall short of causing an unregulated supply to be set up, especially for the more dangerous substances. That is the mandate of the regulators.
In Canada, after many years of fighting the immoral and unjustified prohibition of Cannabis, the government was forced to “legalize” and “regulate” Cannabis, but this is NOT the legalization we have been fighting for.
Instead it is an attempt to take over and monopolize the production and sale of Cannabis by government friends and insiders while wiping out the already vibrant and entrenched industry that has developed to meet the large and increasing demand.
Prohibition increases demand and guarantees an underground supply.
They are trying to do this by force with increased penalties and more wasted tax dollars for enforcement.
In many ways this is prohibition 2.0.
The government’s plan means only “licensed producers” can supply government approved stores that are subject to outrageously strict regulations that result in over priced, grossly over-packaged, low quality Cannabis that is sprayed with chemicals or irradiated to kill all microbes (with no justification for this whatsoever).
People growing and/or selling Cannabis outside the system are subject to even harsher penalties than before so called legalization.
This fake legalization is being harshly rejected by the informed public and veteran Cannabis consumers.
Worst of all there is no provision in the governments scheme to allow for access to medicinal Cannabis products, especially high dose edibles which are extremely beneficial for medical needs and for those wanting to replace the use of opioids and other street drugs.
Which brings me back to the Cannabis Substitution Project.
This project was my response to the opioid overdose crisis because I had learned how effective Cannabis high dose edibles had been for many people in replacing opioids.  I opened and operated Vancouver’s second Cannabis dispensary in 2004 on the Downtown Eastside where there is a large community of people addicted to opioids and other street drugs.
You can’t smoke too much cannabis but you can eat too much and spend a very uncomfortable day or two. ( thankfully it can’t kill you or result in any long term health issues).
The vast majority of people who are addicted to opioids are using them to battle either physical or emotional pain. In many or most cases these are the abused or traumatized children (now adults) of our societies who deserve our compassion but instead are stigmatized and used as  scapegoats to justify the prohibition of Cannabis and other plant medicines that would compete with “big pharma”, alcohol and other substances used for profit by our governments and corporations.
Our project provides free high dose edibles to a large line up of people twice a week for well over 2 years now with great success, having lost only 2 people of the 160 or so “regulars” to the overdose crisis in the 27 months we have been operating. Cannabis has definitely saved many lives.
We are currently giving out approximately 250 care packs of 4-6 edibles and a couple of joints twice a week.
We do not receive any help or acknowledgment from any level of governments but fortunately we also have not had any interference.
They certainly are aware of what we are doing as I have informed all 3 levels of government since we started and have been asking for support.
The entire project is run by dedicated volunteers and supplied by compassionate donators.
What we are doing is illegal according to the laws in Canada but in our opinion laws are put in place to try and protect people and prevent harm but when they fail to do that and are instead harming people ( by preventing access to life saving medicine for example) then those laws are of no force and effect and must be broken.
It is the natural responsibility of human beings to stand against bad laws that are harming more than protecting.
We stand by that and I hope you will all stand with us.

Associated Press

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