Perhaps you have not noticed, but this week – Oct. 17 to be exact – marks a year since cannabis was legalized in Canada.

You may not be aware of the anniversary because Canada and Hay River did not descend into anarchy beginning on Oct. 17, 2018.

There does not even seem to have been an annoying ripple in the fabric of our society.
Why do we think so, you might ask?

Well, when is the last time you heard a politician talk about cannabis legalization?

We’re not aware of any federal politician raising it as a significant issue in the current election campaign. We talked to all five candidates in the NWT for the upcoming election, and asked each one about the issues they were hearing from voters. Not one of the candidates mentioned cannabis legalization.

On a more local level, we have not heard a peep about cannabis legalization at Hay River town council since last year.


Let’s just say there was initially significant opposition on town council to the idea of cannabis legalization. After it happened, there was even a suggestion that cannabis smoking be banned by a bylaw everywhere in Hay River, except in private residences and where specifically permitted by the town. We have not heard anything about that idea since last year.

For those of you who may not know, town council is a great barometer of the feelings of community residents. If a councillor hears a concern from someone it is often raised at a council meeting. For example, at last week’s meeting, one councillor mentioned a concern from a resident about the hours of operation at NWT Centennial Library, which is not even run by the town.

So if a lot of people still are upset by cannabis legalization, council members would have heard about it, and we would have already told you.

Of course, there were people very upset before legalization and immediately afterwards. We clearly heard that at public meetings, including with a travelling committee of MLAs.

We’re sure those people still think legalization is wrong, but perhaps they have come to tolerate it, since there has been no societal breakdown. We don’t think they will ever agree with legalization, but toleration is just fine.

In the same way, we don’t agree with the law that allows police to give an alcohol breath test to anyone pulled over for speeding. It’s a violation of constitutional guarantees against unwarranted searches, but it is still the law. So we tolerate it.

We suspect that is the same feeling of those who were/are opposed to cannabis legalization.

Of course, we don’t know each person’s experience since legalization occurred. There may very well be some who have been very negatively affected by legalization.

All we can say is that we have occasionally noticed the distinctive smell of marijuana off certain people, and sometimes smelled it wafting through buildings.

We have also occasionally – but rarely – seen some people smoking marijuana in an inappropriate location. But that behaviour is now bad manners, and nothing criminal.

And nothing criminal is the way it should be.


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