Early this past December I had the pleasure of staying in Ottawa with a close friend to engage in a few amazing experiences. I also had the pleasure of crossing off a few items on my bucket list; I never imagined that I would have the luxury of meeting film producer Adam Scorgie, or Brian O’Dea, Canadian-international marijuana smuggler, anytime in my cannabis-activism career. I was truly thrilled that this was a part of my itinerary in Ottawa.
Back in 2007 I was recovering from a serious injury and had been working for a pharmaceutical company. I was prescribed opiate pain medication which gravely disturbed my overall health, leading to liver damage. I was becoming sicker with the prescriptions. Enough of the pills, I decided one day. It was that moment I decided, from a medical standpoint, using cannabis was a better option for me. Indulging in cannabis has been a journey on a road paved with blessings in my life: it aids me in overall physical wellness, mental and spiritual harmony, and gives me optimal balance in my daily life. This personal decision led to curiosity about other cannabis lifestyle practices. One evening in 2009 on the top shelf of a movie rental store’s TOP TEN New Releases at #1, with a huge cannabis leaf on the front cover, was The Union: The Business Behind Getting High; I immediately rented it. That same evening, I watched it three times. This documentary woke me up, and brought me here.
In 2014, dinner at Hy’s Steak House for six cannabis activists was the first night of my Ottawa adventure. Brian O’Dea was seated across from me and Adam Scorgie was seated on my right. I was beside myself; was this for real? It certainly was enthralling. Over cocktails and a delicious full course meal, the table took ample opportunity to talk about why we were in Ottawa: The Culture High, the sequel to The Union, was being screened the very next evening. I’m a member of The NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada which, with a few other sponsors, was hosting Adam Scorgie and The Culture High in Ottawa to educate Canadians on the real damages of cannabis prohibition in the world.
The next day, we were welcomed to Parliament Hill to speak with politicians about the film. It was encouraging when Adam was invited back later by an MP to screen his films for parliament. The Liberal Party of Canada also invited us to the VIP section to watch Question Period with all of the MP’s, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper. There was a lot of arguing and discussions about apologizing to Canadians, all encompassing our veteran affair policies and budgets. At first it really presented itself as that of a school yard squabble but as discussion got more in-depth, the ‘hot button topic’ revealed itself to be about veterans not accessing proper rehabilitation, and the lack of funding for our veterans services. There was a lot of heat in the room on this topic; PTSD in our military has been snowballing into a plethora of suicides over the past decade, Canadians are shaken, and there is little room for excuses as to why our Tory government has been neglecting the overall care of our military personnel. We should be helping our military heal any way it takes, especially our veterans of war. They are the ones who are sent overseas to fight for our country and don’t always come back the same. The experience brought me to a whole new understanding of how disposable Canadians have become under Harper’s Conservatives.
Later that evening, we collected ourselves and headed out to the theatre, where hundreds of supporters and fans came out to watch the film screening. So many of the audience members had questions for discussion afterwards, that’s what Adam’s films do: provoke thought. It was encouraging to see so many people engaged in such deep discussions afterwards. After all, it’s how I too became involved in this movement. So witnessing that brought me great satisfaction. The Culture High is provocative, just as The Union is.
“Why is cannabis still illegal?” is the burning question we all still want answered. The art of engaging in such discussions has always been something I fantasized about, but it is a real dream come true for me, to be able to share my experiences with friends, fans, and readers.