One of the main benefits of legalizing cannabis is reducing the stigma associated with consuming it.
People consume weed for lots of reasons. Medical patients use it to treat a variety of illnesses, others use it to relax, and some people simply want to get super high (there’s nothing wrong with that).
But beyond actually legalizing it, the Canadian government seems to have very little interest in de-stigmatizing cannabis. Since the beginning, the messaging we’ve heard has focused on thin moral arguments like keeping weed out of the hands of children and getting gangsters out of stairwells. A year in, we haven’t moved far away from that rhetoric.
Take for example comments from Canada’s new health minister Patty Hajdu on the legalization of edibles: “The best way for Canadians to protect their health is not to consume cannabis, and adults who choose to use cannabis should avoid products from illegal or unknown sources,” she said.
I understand why the government is promoting buying legal weed, particularly in the midst of a vaping-related illness crisis that seems to stem from black market products. But suggesting the best way for Canadians to protect their health is not to consume any cannabis ignores that it’s a relatively benign substance (no one has died from overdosing on it) and that lots of Canadians use it as a medicine. Others use it as a form of harm reduction, instead of taking more toxic prescription drugs. And others still use it as an alternative to a much deadlier intoxicant: Alcohol.
Alcohol is the main cause of death for substance-related hospitalizations. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 10 Canadians die in hospital daily due to substance use, and booze is responsible for 75 percent of those deaths. Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that alcohol is a factor in up to four fatal car crashes a day.
And Canadians drink a lot—a study by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) showed that we drink 50 percent more than the global average. Research shows the annual cost associated with alcohol-related harms in Canada is $14.6 billion.
Alcohol is also a carcinogen, accounting for more than 10,000 new cancer cases in 2015, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.
It is also extremely addictive—right up there with heroin, cocaine, and nicotine. Make no mistake, alcohol is a drug and it can be an incredibly dangerous one. Yet it is widely available (enjoying far looser regulations than weed), and even glorified.
But the government’s messaging around liquor truly lays bare its hypocrisy.
Health Canada’s page dedicated to alcohol starts off by saying, “Although the majority of Canadians who drink alcohol do so in moderation, alcohol misuse affects too many Canadians. In fact, it is estimated that 4 to 5 million Canadians engage in high-risk drinking, which is linked to motor vehicle accidents, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and other health issues, family problems, crime, and violence.”
Meanwhile their page about “problematic alcohol use” says, “Alcohol is a depressant drug that slows down your body’s central nervous system. While a small amount of alcohol may provide health benefits for some, drinking excessively can cause serious health issues.”
What stands out to me is that both of these write-ups open with caveats that minimize the impact of booze, or in the latter example, tout the so-called health benefits of alcohol.
Those health benefits (red wine fights against heart disease) have been overstated. A massive study published in the Lancet last year looked at the drinking habits in 195 countries and came to the conclusion that no amount of alcohol is good for you. The benefits are outweighed by the harms.
In 2015, the government released a report on alcohol consumption in Canada that said alcohol is handled more like a food here, despite the health risks.
“Our society condones, supports, and in some cases promotes drinking such as through ‘drink of the day’ specials, sale prices on certain brands, and associating alcohol with fun and sophistication,” wrote Canada’s former Chief Public Health Officer Gregory Taylor in the report.
“Our low-risk drinking guidelines do not mean that alcohol is harmless.”
He’s absolutely right. Our lawmakers would do well to remember that.
Stressed Students, Bridesmaids Drama, And More: An Advice Column From A Total Amateur
Hi! A while ago I asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell me a problem they’re having, so that I — a person with absolutely zero professional qualifications to help anyone — could give them advice. So, here are the results! NBC 1. “Dear Andy,I have NO idea where I should go to school… I’m applying…
Hi! A while ago I asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell me a problem they’re having, so that I — a person with absolutely zero professional qualifications to help anyone — could give them advice. So, here are the results!
I have NO idea where I should go to school… I’m applying to 12 schools, 10 on the west coast and two in BC. I’m a high achieving student (I’m in five AP classes, president of two clubs, volunteering and a job, etc.) and I don’t want to go somewhere that’s all about the pressure, but I still want a high quality education. I’m so lost, help!”
—The Overwhelmed Student
You posted this just to dunk on all of us academically, didn’t you?
Kidding. In all seriousness, you can get a very good education at a bunch of different schools. And when you’re done, you’ll have a degree that probably nobody will ever verify! In my completely amateur opinion, the only reason people think the “Ivy League” schools are better is because a lot of wealthy, well-connected people go there (and have gone there), and therefore when you graduate from one, you’re more likely to get in at some fancy law firm or whatever because of your connections. So if you aren’t planning on being like, IDK, the CFO of Waystar Royco or something, just pick the school that you really want to go to. Where are you going to be happy living? Is one of the schools in a city you already want to move to and/or the city that has jobs in your future profession? Is it important for you to be close to home? How many Wendy’s are there on campus, and do they carry Spicy Nuggets? These are the questions you should be asking.
Oh, wait, actually…forget all that. Go to the school that will cost the least when you factor in tuition, room & board, and any scholarships you might get. Student loans are a curse and you want as little of them as possible. In the end, you might not even end up doing the thing you studied in college. Wanna know what degree I have? A BFA in Theater Performance. An acting degree. And now here I am, writing for a website. You’ll be fine.
I got married this summer, and I decided to choose only family to be my bridesmaids. For me this included three female cousins and my (now) sister-in-law. My husband, on the other hand, decided to do a mix of family as well as friends from high school for his groomsmen. I had no problem with this at all.
I had a few friends who I knew would expect to be bridesmaids, so I made it clear to them from the very beginning that I would be choosing family only as to not have a huge wedding party, but I told them they were not any less important to me and that I still wanted them to be involved in the wedding as much as they felt comfortable with. Most of the friends I had this conversation with were very understanding, however one straight up told me that she was disappointed (this was two years before the wedding).
Now it’s been a few months since I got married and this friend (a friend from childhood) started talking about the wedding. She told me she felt left out of the wedding since she wasn’t part of the wedding party. It particularly bothered her that my husband included friends and I didn’t. She then proceeded to tell me that it was difficult for her to be there the day of my wedding because of these feelings. AT MY WEDDING. She also included the fact that she didn’t want to upset me and that it doesn’t change our friendship. But if that is the case then why say anything in the first place? I’ve already said one too many times the reason for my bridesmaid choices and how important she is to me regardless. And she says she understands. I just wish she would let it go. Ever since this conversation I feel like I’ve been seeing her in a whole new light.
I do care about her feelings, but I stick by my decision and I don’t regret anything. I feel like I’ve done everything I can to make her feel better.”
—The Besieged Bride
[TL;DR: Bride had only family as bridesmaids, groom had some friends in the mix, bride’s childhood friend felt left out and complained about it a few months after the wedding.]
Question one: How drunk was your friend when she brought this up to you? If she was like, a 6 or more out of 10, I say let’s give it a pass and hope she got it out of her system.
Question two: Has your friend had a wedding of her own yet? If yes, then she should’ve understood the situation, because wedding planning is a special kind of hell and inevitably you have to make difficult decisions like this one that might hurt people’s feelings. So if you’ve planned your own wedding, you know the deal and you’re able to say to yourself, “It’s their wedding, I’m just going to be supportive and have fun.” If she hasn’t gotten married yet, she’ll realize later that it was totally inappropriate to complain about this to you. Hopefully.
I have been taking so many of the relationship quizzes on BuzzFeed but they all say I’m single. The major problem is I have an S.O. Is she just faking or am I?? Help me!! Is my girlfriend not actually mine or are we real?”
—The Quizzical Quiz-Taker
You’re not real. This is all a simulation.
—Andy (or am I?)
I’m not sure where to live. I live in Milwaukee, WI, right now. Moved here three years ago for school, but that fell through because Milwaukee is friggin expensive. My family wants me to move back to the other side of the state, towards Minneapolis/St. Paul. What should I do?”
—Meandering the Midwest
Get the fuck out of there, it’s so cold! Listen, I used to live in Michigan, and it was depressing because it was grey and miserable nine months out of the year. Now I live in Southern California, it’s sunny and beautiful and my vitamin D levels are through the roof. Migrate south, seriously.
But if you HAVE to stay, I will say that everybody who lives in Minneapolis seems to LOVE Minneapolis for some reason.
My problem is that I struggle with feeling attractive. I started taking birth control when my boyfriend and I started dating (six years ago). I started gaining the weight right after. I’m now a size 12 and my boyfriend is a slender guy. I haven’t felt attractive in the last year. I gained so much weight at one point I was a size 16. I’m back to a 12 and trying to lose weight again. I don’t feel sexy or beautiful in any way. I prefer to keep my shirt on during sex now. I don’t know why my boyfriend still finds me attractive. I have a tummy, I have rolls when I sit down, I just don’t know what he sees anymore. Any advice you could give me would be much appreciated.”
—Struggling With Size
First off, don’t worry about your boyfriend. Clearly he finds you attractive, and when you actually care about someone, the size tags on their clothes don’t matter to you at all. Appreciate that fact and find some security there.
Now, consider the possibility that if your boyfriend finds you attractive at any size, you can too! It’s not easy. It requires shedding every bit of toxic influence that the media and our society overall has thrown at you for your entire life. That takes time and work.
But if you are worried about your physical health at all, consult a doctor. There are many different types of birth control and like 40 different pills, and everyone reacts to each one differently. It can take time to find the right one, and not every doctor is going to be helpful about it. Advocate for yourself if you’re unhappy with your medication. You may have done all of this already and I’m just sitting here mansplaining BC to you, but if so at least you can cross that off your Mansplaining Bingo Card.
That’s it for this week. But if you’re having a problem that you need advice about, let me know! It could be anything: petty arguments that you need a judge to decide who was right and who was wrong, help making life decisions, relationship issues — I’m your completely unqualified man. Email email@example.com (for total anonymity) or leave a comment here!