Freedom In My Context / My Drug Policy Proposal

Daily writing prompt
What does freedom mean to you?

Today’s writing prompt is actually interesting. The question highlights an apparent personal subjectivity to how we all comprehend the word Freedom despite the term having a solid definition. Though this definition is worded differently depending on the source, the throughline is generally the same.

I’ll use as my source.

Most of the subjectivity associated with the word comes from where my (and everyone else’s) personalized definitions of the word start bumping into one another and into the laws of the land. In this case, the law of the land is wherever you reside.

We all have views as far as this is concerned. A common law broken where I live is the speed limit (despite it being 50 for much of the city, many drive at 60. A justification I often hear for this is “Everyone else drives at 60″). Then there are local regulations concerning the legal use of backyard fire pits (if no one complains, people can operate them without permits without hassle).

Shifting to the federal level (and to a personal disagreement I have with the law), we come to cannabis and other substances. I have believed in cannabis legalization since after high school, and with that out of the way (at least in Canada), I still think that the law needs work. It is obviously a law put in place by people that don’t understand the substance they are dealing with. Considering that there is a maximum amount of cannabis that can be legally purchased in 1 transaction but no maximum amount for alcohol.

Drug Policy Reform Proposal

We now come to the other substances. All other substances should be legalized and all funding currently devoted to fighting the importation, distribution and consumption of these substances be diverted toward treatment.

In fact, I have an entire policy proposal to law out.

For starters, you legalize the production and distribution of all substances for which a market exists. This brings to the illicit drug market the quality control mechanisms of the pharmaceutical industry. Gone are the deaths of unsuspecting users of substances like cocaine and amphetamines because someone unscrupulous up the chain added fentanyl (or some other cheap opioid derivative) to pad the pocketbook.

I also propose a complete overhaul regarding how so-called vices are taxed. I propose removing local, regional (state) and federal taxes for all vices (Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling etc).
These taxes would be replaced with a Common Good tax. Administered under the purview of the Canada Revenue Agency and Health Canada (in Canada) and The Internal Revenue Service and the Food And Drug Administration (in the US), all taxes collected on vices would flow into 1 national pot. These resources would be distributed around the respective countries based on local needs.

I also propose a review of what constitutes treatment in the context of the law. Though twelve-step programs are often known to dominate this process, they are also now increasingly well-known as one of the least effective treatment methods. Yet for many individuals seeking treatment voluntarily or involuntarily due to a court order, 12-step programs are often one of the only available options.

I looked into AA as a branch of my cannabis explorations in 2020. Though the initial agenda of that exploration was to shred AA, I came to a sort of compromise.

Is AA as the only option in many cases ridiculously overfunded for its barely over single digit recovery rate?


Should it be available as an option for people that would benefit from it?


Writing that piece made me realize that treatment policy almost certainly can not be a one-size-fits-everybody model. I even had to reconsider the proliferation of only entirely abstinence-based treatment programs. Though this works for many people, is it the best path for everyone?

Another aspect of my drug policy proposal would seed the funding of further research into addiction treatment options. And not just narrowly focused on 12-step programs (and even abstinence-only) programs either. Health Canada and the FDA would be tasked with finding (and funding) all proven treatment options for notable segments of the population.
Since this may end up being a floating set of goalposts as populations change due to ageing, immigration and other factors, Health Canada/The FDA would be funded enough to stay on top of these changes.

Along with being better for the population’s overall well-being, this vigilance may also preempt any future innovators like JUUL from sneaking nicotine addiction into the lives of a new generation of consumers.

I feel like now is the right time for these reforms since we are on very precipice of some kind of technological revolution. Though how it will play out is still up in the air, we do know that many people’s lives will be disrupted in the coming decade(s). And when lives get disrupted, social problems like addiction start to manifest.

Without these reforms, you will have what we currently have . . . the market deciding based on profitability (particularly in the US). As the labour market is increasingly disrupted by the changes of automation, the industries that thrive on human misery (including those in the business of reversing its worst effects) will only welcome this change. Vice peddlers push a coping mechanism, whilst the recovery industry is there to step in when the coping mechanisms become too disruptive. Though one would hope that the recovery industry has the best intent for the patients in mind, that isn’t exactly good for the bottom line, is it?

Neither are dead patients, though.

This makes the 12-step program (or any single recovery program with a low recovery rate used en-mass) perfect for such a treatment paradigm. The low success rate makes for plenty of repeated visits. And the single-focused nature of the operators using the 12-step principle (no alternatives!) ensures that the lack of success is clearly the addict’s fault.

So the process repeats until . . .


or the end result that seems more likely, given the data . . .


In closing, far too many people (politicians included) base their drug policies on their sentiments and feelings towards the various substances themselves. In my view, this is the wrong way to look at the topic.

It does not matter what I (or anyone else) think of alcohol, heroin, cocaine, gambling or any other vice. Some are harmed by these things. But others still engage in these activities (for better or worse). And people will make these same choices whether the opportunity to do so is government sanctioned or not. As has been proven time and time again with all such activities.

As such, I propose that these vice activities be brought into the legitimacy of legality (or remain so). However, no agency, municipality or entity should profit from the taxation or otherwise be enriched by the profits of such substances or activities.

Regions with a lot of race track betting or casino gambling may take issue with this new set of circumstances. As far as this is concerned, there is nothing wrong with extracting a premium land tax return for premium commercial land. However, that is as far as it goes. Covering infrastructure costs and other local costs (such as schools). That is it.
As regions like this will deal with the worst effects of readily available gambling and gaming (such as addiction-derived poverty and houselessness), these areas will also be eligible for funding from the pool to help alleviate these realities.
Even though gambling isn’t technically substance abuse, it is no less addictive. As such, gambling addicts deserve the same chance at a better existence as any other person does.

Having written this earlier (I am now editing) it occurred to me that I overlooked one of the most important entities when writing this . . . the company or casino owner itself. Land and property taxes are pennies to the millions (if not billions) brought in by the gaming companies themselves.

This raises a new question: Should companies kept afloat strictly by gaming revenue be allowed to exist? Should there be a maximum cap (in terms of the maximum allowed gaming revenue an entity can earn) imposed on gaming companies to encourage investment in less socially destructive profit drivers?

Or should casinos have to fork over far more taxes to account for the social harm their business models often inflict on surrounding areas?

Please comment below if you have an opinion on this or anything else.

Unlike the War On Drugs or other past attempts at tackling this beast, my proposals do not have an end goal in mind. As great as it would be to end all addiction-derived pain and suffering in the world, that isn’t happening. That isn’t happening anytime soon, if ever at all.

What we can do, however, is make the process of drug production, distribution, and consumption much safer by offering both certified pure substances and easily accessible paths away from drug use.

1.) Clean production helps to get the grow operations and methamphetamine labs out of houses and neighbourhoods. They can irreparably damage dwellings utilized for this purpose (not to mention posing a danger to neighbours and others in close proximity).

2.) Clean distribution puts the whole transactional process of obtaining the substance behind a legitimate legal framework of identity verification. If you are not old enough to vote, you shouldn’t be old enough to access hardcore drugs!

It is currently up to the scruples of the drug dealer to determine whether or not a given high school student with cash walks away with any substance to which they sell. This is, and never has, been the right way to do things.

3.) Clean consumption is harder to implement but worth pursuing. Instead of having drugs consumed in parks, alleys, street corners, under bridges and in other locations that are optimal to no one (including those tasked with cleaning up the contaminated sharps!), safe consumption sites allow this drug use to occur in a safe environment. And more important than the cosmetic annoyance of needles lying around is the knowledge that the drug users will have help readily available (as in trained medical staff) should they find themselves in an overdose situation.

Reducing the overall societal consumption of hazardous drugs should, in fact, be a goal for the long term. But the short to mid-term goals ought to be in minimizing and/or eliminating risks that the current status quo drug market poses to both participants in the market AND bystanders outside of it. We should protect not just the neighbourhoods and people in our cities but also the citizens where many of these drugs currently originate. Cartel-ravaged nations like Mexico, Colombia and Honduras.

Now THAT isn’t something you see every day. If you have not seen Gordon Ramsay On Cocaine, I highly recommend it. Few people aside from Gordon Ramsay himself would get the inside scoops that he did at all levels of the drug hierarchy (including the law enforcement side)

Harm reduction is the ultimate long-term goal of this project. There may, in fact, be no way to get a given segment of the population off of the substances which currently control their lives. While unfortunate, this doesn’t mean these people should be relegated to sewers, alleys, parks, under bridges and other lonely locations. They deserve the same access to medical treatment that we do.

Given the right incentivization structure, one could hope to widdle down the complete write-off category (as previously presented) to as close to zero as possible. How THAT happens is a whole other post for a new day.

Back to Freedom

Though my views of drug consumption may border on libertarian in terms of personal autonomy, I run from the term realistically. To me, most libertarians are ridiculous people that want the trappings of what we have without actually having to pay for them. To be honest, the same could be said for many conservatives in general.

For me, freedom is a hard nut to crack. If I were to attempt to boil it down, however, I’d say that you are likely fine so long as your actions are not causing overall duress to anyone else in your vicinity.

This covers almost every social topic or situation involving only the individual (including gender identity fluidity and abortion). Period.

Though everyday interactions with others are harder to base on rigid policies (since everyone’s boundaries are different), some boundaries can apply. For example, unwarranted violence. Unnecessarily subjecting others to your 2ed hand smoke. Being the Karen in the neighbourhood everyone hates them because of their complete disregard for anyone but themselves.

The most important duty of the citizen of any liberal democracy is to ensure that said democracy does not backslide back into the realm of fascism. Though many promoters of fascism wear and praise the flag of freedom, it is a hollow lie. Their freedom is the freedom to throw degenerate lefty scum like YOU into detention.

Without liberal democracy, there would be no debating the specifics of freedom as far as society is concerned. You are with them, or you are on the train.

Stay vigilant, or your freedom doesn’t mean shit. While it could be argued that we are already there . . . it could be much worse.

Do I Vote In Political Elections?

Daily writing prompt
Do you vote in political elections?

Though yesterday’s writing prompt seems a bit redundant (what election is there that ISN’T political?!), I will answer it.


Since becoming voting age, I have never missed an election at the civic/regional, provincial or federal level. As the years have drawn on, I have also tried to become more active in the interim periods between races (mainly by writing opposing politicians). I also have tried to become more active in what one could call secondary races at the local levels (school trustee elections).
For the past 2 trustee elections, I made a cheat sheet a few months in advance (depending on other life factors demanding my attention, like work). I research each candidate as best as possible (using their submitted platform and online sources, if applicable). I also email each candidate questions based on my concerns and concerns in their platform statements. Using the responses (as sometimes, lack thereof), I widdle down the candidates to the maximum number necessary.

While I won’t automatically eliminate candidates that don’t respond to emails, it is a large factor of consideration, particularly in candidates running for re-election. While I understand that people are busy, not responding to voter communication comes across to me as arrogant. As though you don’t feel you need my vote. Though that may be the case, I’ll remember the name if they ever have aspirations for a higher office (like city councillor or mayor).

I have always voted in real-life elections because I always recognized the importance of paying attention. Though work and other considerations distract me from a lot of the minutia of political discourse (particularly at the local level. Social media is (and always has been) terrible when it comes to driving citizen engagement at this level), I try to stay in the loop. This is easier said than done since the drivers of many local campaigns still think we’re in the dark ages of newspapers and cable TV. Though I can follow Bernie Sanders and local Pizza businesses on Snapchat, Tik Tok and Facebook, the only local election content that often slips into my everyday stream is the odd youtube preroll paid for by a candidate.

Participation in local politics has been falling off a cliff for the past few election cycles all over the place. I think I can highlight a big reason why.
For starters (to the older generations on a high horse), quit complaining about the young people not paying attention and meet them there they are. Previous generations are just as ignorant of what didn’t make the cut of cable TV. So enough hand waving as though you are any different.

In reality, politics is far more all-encompassing than just what we keep tabs on VIA the news. When it comes to all manner of organizations, politics tends to play a role in finding success within said organization.
And when I say organization, I am meaning pretty much any organization. Rather than finding a threshold wherein one could expect these processes to take shape, I will instead share an excerpt of an interesting article I found.

Whatever else organizations may be (problem-solving instruments, sociotechnical systems, reward systems, and so on), they are political structures. This means that organizations operate by distributing authority and setting a stage for the exercise of power. It is no wonder, therefore, that individuals who are highly motivated to secure and use power find a familiar and hospitable environment in business.

Though the article is focused on the business world (the source IS the Harvard Business Review), you can apply the dynamics to any organizational structure. Where there is power to be attained, there will be politics.

Organizations provide a power base for individuals. From a purely economic standpoint, organizations exist to create a surplus of income over costs by meeting needs in the marketplace. But organizations also are political structures which provide opportunities for people to develop careers and therefore provide platforms for the expression of individual interests and motives. The development of careers, particularly at high managerial and professional levels, depends on accumulation of power as the vehicle for transforming individual interests into activities which influence other people.

I hate how they interchangeably swap out business for organization, but again, the focus is on the business world.

Though I never had much trouble when it comes to participating in politics on a local/regional/national (even on an international level, at least in terms of engagement), the everyday kind of politics has always been hard for me.

Every place wherein one works (short of organizations with very few employees) has some kind of political culture. And in almost every instance therein, one’s path to success isn’t always as clear-cut as it should be (the best always rise to the top). It is often a game of who you know and/or who you are chummy with.

This was made explicitly clear to me when I started working at a place that seemed to be shifted by fairly few political influences (or at the least, they are good at keeping the human factors in check). This is in comparison with previous workplace cultures that valued turning a blind eye and just accepting things as they are.

I have trouble accepting that some stupid problem (be it a real-world issue or an idiotic corporate policy) is just how it is to be. When there are real-world consequences to be had (be they productivity, aka financial inefficiencies, or actual risks), I believe in corrective action. Though I am not in a position to do anything about said issues most of the time, I AM in a position to be a squeaky wheel.

The problem with many of the organizational structures I have worked within in the past is that they don’t take kindly to the squeaky wheel. Instead of viewing it as constructive feedback, they see it as at best, a sign of a negative personality and, at worse, as a challenge to the power of the authorities in charge. I have been told that I needed to be less negative formally on one occasion, and heard through the grapevine that this negativity was costing me shifts (and thus, affecting my life) another time.
This was where I concluded that my direct authority must have been seeing my squeaky wheel routine as a challenge. This is despite the fact that I pose no risk to their position whatsoever. There is no way the people that put him in place would put a mismatch pain in the ass like me at the leadership table.

I contrast this to an organization that does not do everything it can to beat its squeaky wheels into submission. An organization with leaders who may not always agree with one’s views, but they also don’t actively discourage you from making them known. An organization with a leadership which isn’t inherently disconnected from the frontline work environment.

When you spend vast amounts of your life in organizational and political environments that clash with your values, you begin to think that the problem is you. The reason for your misery is your refusal to go with the flow.

Just shut up and go with the flow. It’s not rocket science!

And yet, you just can’t do it. And it certainly doesn’t help when you keep happening across articles on platforms like Harvard Business Review (aimed at everyone from executives to middle management types) outlining ways to bring general improvements to organizations of all types. The potential is so obvious, but the pathway is blocked by . . . humans embracing all the worst aspects of organized humanity.

Thus, we end up with a cautionary tale. What happens when you overstay your time in an environment inherently antithetical to your values?

Not only do you hinder any path to success you may have otherwise had within the organization, you also never actually FIX anything. Whether the squeaky wheel is loudly protesting or silently seething, the same old inefficiencies and incompetencies continue to exist.

I chose to exit and finally found a place that seemed to fit my values.

If you are okay with going with the flow in an organizational structure unmatched to your values, then so be it. If this place of work is making you question your values, however, it may be time to consider other options. It’s not easy and can take a lot of time. Nonetheless, your sanity may depend on it.

* * *

Where humans are organizing, there will be politics. Though it may be easier to count yourself out of it all, it is not in your (or anyone you care about)’s best interest.

Politics can affect every aspect of one’s life. From laws, ordinances, and regulations of governments, to rules and regulations of HOAs and Condo boards, to your career trajectory in the workplace. Though actively participating isn’t always easy, neither to are living with the results of neglecting to do so.

How can one become more politically active?

That, of course, is context-dependent.

Regarding local politics, I like what Ignite International has to say:

Getting involved in your community is a helpful way to further understand the issues that people in your area are facing. Consider attending town hall meetings or volunteering locally. As you hear from others about their concerns, you can also create connections. No matter what political path you go down, connecting with community members helps you have a deeper understanding that will influence your next move. 

* * *

One way to help your community is by becoming an activist or community organizer. Use your voice to organize marches about certain issues, start a conversation online or rally people around a cause. Either way, you’ll be ensuring that people continue to be reminded that something needs to be done to help make your community better for everyone in it.

When it comes to politics of the national variety, this PDF is full of helpful hints.

Most of this information is US-centric, but you can take what you need to know and adapt it to your local region and country.

As for organizational politics, that is where things become tricky. Though all politics are arguably tricky, organizational politics tends to be far more susceptible to human biases and bad traits than broader local, regional and national politics driven primarily by other agendas. For example, a bad decision made by a co-worker or HOA board member can inflict much more stress on you than most decisions made by politicians at any level. Although we don’t tend to think of these workplace situations as political, they are.

As such, the first decision you must make is what you value in the given situation. Are you interested in becoming a rising star and making a career of it? Or are you more interested in keeping within your ethical/moral boundaries and values?

Some may argue that the dichotomy I just painted is ridiculously rigid. As in all generalizations, the net is cast very wide to have the best coverage. Nonetheless, given my personal work history (and a great many stories I’ve read on places like Reddit) I suspect that a great many people may find the parameters relatable.

As such, the choice is yours. If you want to adapt to interpersonal politics, search engines and youtube are excellent sources to help with your journey. You can find articles from current professionals and outsiders who know the corporate game well.

If that is not the life for you, then there are just as many sources in the realm of search engines and YouTube to help make the transition a reality. Two of my favourite creators in this category are Joshua Fluke and A Life After Layoff. Both offer methods (ranging from the obvious to the unconventional) that most people can utilize to achieve career growth in whatever sector suits them best. And most importantly, both of them have a far better grasp of the dynamics of internal corporate politics and culture than pretty much anyone else in the public space, the news media included.
That brick wall that seems to exist between your everyday reality and the reality that your superiors (particularly c-suite level individuals) see . . . it isn’t imaginary. Many of them really do have their heads up their ass.

Every one of our situations is different. Sometimes the options of adapt or get out are far easier said than done regarding constrained job markets. And when it comes to other aspects of politics, not all of us have the time to shake things up at the HOA or any other level of politics.

While I completely understand this reasoning for shying away from politics, I encourage everyone to remember that life goes on outside your little bubble. Though direct participation may be too much to ask, at least pay some attention to the events of the world around you. Lest you not be surprised when a power-seeking idiot of a neighbour (or fascism) suddenly shows up in your neighbourhood.

As for those that refuse to play the game at all . . . I also get it. I didn’t sign up for this either.

Nonetheless, the negative influencers who know how to play the game of politics are advancing themselves into positions of power over you. If you want even the chance to have such a position of influence, you best learn to play the game.

After all, you are a pawn in it already.

Cannabis Drug Interactions

Today I was reading an article on cannabis dosing for beginners, which linked to an article covering something I had not given much thought to despite its increasing importance in the age of legalization. That topic was the interactions of cannabis with other substances.

Let’s begin.

If you’re using cannabis with other drugs (prescription or otherwise), it’s important to be aware of potential interactions that can occur so you know when it’s safe to light up and when it’s wise to wait. We’ll explore how cannabis interacts with four of the most common classes of drugs: opioids, stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogens.

One of the most prominent lessons from the article is that it is more helpful to think of cannabis as a cornucopia of different compounds. Though tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol are the well known headliners of the pack, there are but 2 of potentially hundreds of other cannabinoids present in any single batch of cannabis. And each of these cannabinoids tends to react differently with other medicinal compounds. For the sake of simplicity, the word medicinal in this case covers any and all drugs (from caffeine to cocaine, and beyond).

A big part of this is our internal endocannabinoid system.

Cannabis can interact in diverse ways with an incredibly wide variety of substances. One of the reasons is because our bodies are uniquely receptive to the effects of cannabis, courtesy of our endocannabinoid system (ECS).

“The ECS is a vast cellular communication system that intertwines all of our other body systems, and this means that cannabinoids often have overlapping effects with many prescription medications,” said Codi Peterson, PharmD, MS and Chief Science Officer at The Cannigma. “Cannabis is resoundingly safe compared to most prescription medications and even many herbs, but when combined with other substances it does carry some risks.”

Not only are there multiple compounds within cannabis derivatives,they also tend to behave differently pharmacologically. Though science hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface in terms of cannabinoids, we already know that even THC and CBD are known to behave somewhat unexpectedly in the presence of other compounds.

Peterson also points out that the two major cannabinoids in cannabis, THC and CBD, interact with medications and substances in contrasting ways.

“THC’s drug-drug interactions are typically pharmacodynamic, meaning they change how [another] drug affects us. CBD’s drug interactions are typically pharmacokinetic, meaning they alter how other medication is broken down,” said Peterson.

Another aspect of cannabis that is mentioned is the presence of terpenes and their potential to interact with medications. Though that Avenue is likely many years away from exploration.

How does cannabis interact with stimulants?

Stimulants are substances that speed up the release of certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in our central nervous system.

* * * 

Stimulants can be prescription drugs (like Adderall for ADHD), legal substances like caffeine, or illegal compounds, like methamphetamine. Here are some common stimulants:

  • Methamphetamine
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Ritalin (amphetamine)
  • Adderall (amphetamine)
  • Concerta (amphetamine)
  • Cocaine

“Stimulants affect neurotransmitters in the brain to help improve wakefulness and focus,” said Peterson. “If we evaluate the systems in the brain that stimulants (and cannabis) act on, there is a clear overlap of the [endocannabinoid system]. Stimulants and THC can each increase heart rate, racing thoughts, and anxiety, and together, they can worsen these symptoms.”

Peterson explained that the effects of combining stimulants and cannabis depend more on the individual and the dose. For individuals with ADHD, for example, combining cannabis and prescription medication like Adderall, can produce different effects.

Certainly an interesting observation. But it does make sense when you think about it. If you get jittery and antsy with something like coffee alone, adding the potential paranoia and negative emotional experiences of cannabis on top of that likely isn’t going to make for a great experience. And this is just caffeine, the mildest of all stimulants.

Not to mention this potentially worrying side effect:

However, there may also be risks associated with teaming THC with stimulants used to treat ADHD in particular. In a 2015 study that explored the effects of combining THC and the active ingredient in Ritalin, methylphenidate, researchers found that the combination of substances increased the risk of cardiovascular strain, meaning extra stress was placed on the heart.

Something to take heed of if you already have been prediagnosed with heart problems or have high blood pressure.

Mixing cannabis and depressants

Depressants produce opposite effects to stimulants, helping to relax muscles, ease anxiety, and usher in feelings of calmness. High doses of depressants, however, can make individuals feel drowsy and disoriented, and can detrimentally affect coordination and concentration. 

Some common depressants include:

  • Valium (benzodiazepine)
  • Xanax (benzodiazepine)
  • Halcion (benzodiazepine)
  • Klonopin (benzodiazepine)
  • Alcohol
  • Kava

Though I was aware of 5 of the substances on that list, Kava was new to me.

Kava kava (Piper methysticum) has been used as a ceremonial drink in the Pacific Islands for hundreds of years. Some people report its effects are similar to alcohol.

* * *

In addition to its ceremonial uses, kava is best known for its relaxing qualities. Kava is said to elevate mood, well being, and contentment, and produce a feeling of relaxation. Several studies have found that kava may be useful in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and related nervous disorders.

However, there is serious concern that kava may cause liver damage. More than 30 cases of liver damage have been reported in Europe. However, researchers have not been able to confirm that kava is toxic to the liver. It is not clear whether kava itself causes liver damage, or whether taking kava in combination with other drugs or herbs is responsible. It is also not clear whether kava is dangerous at previously recommended doses, or only at higher doses. Some countries have taken kava off the market. It remains available in the United States. But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a consumer advisory in March 2002 regarding the “rare” but potential risk of liver failure associated with kava-containing products.

A ceremonial drink of the Pacific islands. That is why I have not heard of it.

Though its effects are compared to that of alcohol, there are clear differences. One being that it seems no one has yet clarified whether or not the compound is toxic to the liver. This caused its ban in Canada and many places in Europe, but not in the United States.

Either way, getting back to the original topic . . .

Depressants commonly work by increasing the activity of the GABA system, another type of neurotransmitter. When GABA activity speeds up, the central nervous system slows down. 

“The GABA system serves as the essential ‘brake pedal’ in the brain,” explained Peterson. “Generally speaking, THC acts as a mild depressant, at least at larger doses. Combining depressants (like benzodiazepines) and THC carries an increased risk of sedation.”

Here we have another new term. What is the GABA system? A complex part of the Central Nervous System.


Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid that functions as the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter for the central nervous system (CNS). It functions to reduce neuronal excitability by inhibiting nerve transmission. GABAergic neurons are located when the hippocampus, thalamus, basal ganglia, hypothalamus, and brainstem. The balance between inhibitory neuronal transmission via GABA and excitatory neuronal transmission via glutamate is essential for proper cell membrane stability and neurologic function.

* * *


GABA Agonist

Drugs that increase the amount of GABA are commonly used as anticonvulsants, sedatives, and anxiolytics. Due to the increase in GABA, CNS depression is a common adverse effect. Some GABA agonist has addiction potential, and use should be monitored closely. [9]

  • GABAa receptor agonists: Alcohol (ethanol), barbiturates, and benzodiazepine. Barbiturates include phenobarbital and sodium thiopental. Barbiturates are less frequently used due to the high addiction potential and lack of an antidote. Benzodiazepines have mainly replaced them. Benzodiazepines can treat anxiety, agitation, seizures, and muscle spasms. Only short-term use of benzodiazepine is encouraged. An overdose of benzodiazepines can be fatal due to respiratory depression, especially if concomitant use with alcohol and opioids. Flumazenil is the reversal agent for benzodiazepines. [9]
  • GABAb receptor agonists: Baclofen, sodium oxybate (GHB), propofol. GABAb agonists increase CNS depression. Baclofen is typically used as a muscle relaxant to treat spasticity. GHB is approved for the treatment of narcolepsy. Severe CNS depression is common is GHB. Significant respiratory depression and obtundation are commonly seen. Propofol is used for induction and maintenance of general anesthesia. Adverse effects include hypotension, apnea, and involuntary body movements. [9][10][11]
  • GABA analogs: Valproic acid, pregabalin, gabapentin. GABA analogs are used as anticonvulsants, sedatives, and anxiolytics. As with other medications that increase GABA, CNS depression is common in this class of drugs. Valproate is prescribed for the treatment of seizures and mood instability. Pregabalin is used for fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, and postherpetic neuralgia. Gabapentin’s approved uses include postherpetic neuralgia and seizures. Off-label uses include diabetic neuropathy and fibromyalgia. [9]

GABA Antagonist

Drugs that bind to but do not increase the amount of GABA are considered antagonists. Examples include picrotoxin or bicuculline methiodide. Both are mainly used for research. GABA antagonists are pro-convulsant and stimulants. [7],[12]

That is a more detailed explanation of what is going on here, though they lost me at GABA Agonist.

Teaming THC and alcohol, however, produces an additional effect. “When consumed together, alcohol can enhance the effects of THC by allowing THC to enter the brain more easily,” explained Peterson.

“Even a single drink taken with a joint can lead to substantially more psychoactivity than either drug alone,” continued Peterson. “This combination does lead to more significant impairment, and research suggests the combination is frequently involved in traffic accidents, more so than cannabis alone or even alcohol alone.”

And THC isn’t alone in terms of interacting with depressants.

“We do know that CBD will interact with benzodiazepines by increasing their blood levels,” said Tishler. Thanks to its pharmacokinetic effect, as mentioned above, CBD can prevent the body from effectively breaking down benzodiazepines, a main class of depressants, which means elevated levels of the drug can stay and circulate in the body. 

In one 2019 article, researchers highlighted that CBD taken with benzodiazepines could lead to an increased risk of side effects, such as drowsiness, dizziness and confusion. While these aren’t life threatening, taking both substances at the same time, particularly in high doses, is not recommended. 

It’s worth noting that high levels of depressants in the blood can also lead to respiratory depression (slow, ineffective breathing). Tishler points out that this is not the case with all depressants, however, and does not appear to be the case when CBD is consumed with alcohol.

So CBD + Alcohol likely comes with fairly limited risks. But be wary of CBD and other substances.

Good to know.

Can cannabis be a substitute for opioids?

Opioids work by interacting with opioid receptors in the body, which change the perception of pain in the brain and increase the threshold of pain in the spinal cord. 

Some common opioids include: 

  • Robitussin
  • Vicodin
  • Oxycontin
  • Imodium
  • Morphine
  • Tramadol
  • Methadone
  • Codeine

Though one item on this list was unfamiliar (Tramadol), I was surprised to see 2 of the compounds. Robitussin and Imodium.

As it turns out, both are indeed opioids. This website (operated by the Oregon Alcohol and Drug Commission) does a good job not just outlining many of the different opioids we are familiar with or encounter in daily life but also outlining the difference between opioids and opiates. The former is the product of synthetic engineering, and the latter if the result of processing plant-derived opium.

Getting back to the original topic, we come to the opioid system.

Peterson explains that since the endocannabinoid system and our body’s own opioid system overlap, cannabis can reduce the dose of opioids needed to achieve pain control, thus reducing the risk of opioid overdose or addiction. 

According to one study on monkeys, the combination of THC and opioids doesn’t appear to lead to significant cognitive problems, such as impulsivity (which can be a sign of impaired decision-making) or loss of memory. However, mixing THC and opioids may cause the user to feel extra sedated, or sleepy.

“As with any sedative, cannabis can increase the sedative effects of opioids,” said Peterson. “However, unlike opioids, cannabis does not affect the part of our brain responsible for controlling breathing. Despite the increased sedation, the combination is not believed to be more deadly than opioids alone.”

The opioid system?

The opioid system consists of three G protein-coupled receptors, mu-, delta-, and kappa, which are stimulated by a family of endogenous opioid peptides.4

mu-opioid receptors are a key molecular switch triggering brain reward systems and potentially initiating addictive behaviors. The lack of mu-receptors abolishes the analgesic effect of morphine, as well as place-preference activity and physical dependence. This receptor therefore mediates therapeutic (analgesia) and adverse (addiction) activities of morphine, suggesting that further development of morphine-like compounds may necessarily lead to addictive analgesics.

* * *

The rewarding properties of both opioid, as well as non-opioid drugs of abuse (cannabinoids, ethanol and nicotine, natural reinforcers) are abolished in the mu-receptor knockout mice. Blocking the mu-receptor may build a valuable approach for the treatment for drug abuse.

Beyond the rewarding aspect of drug consumption, pharmacological studies have also suggested a role for this receptor in the maintenance of drug use, as well as craving and relapse. As a consequence, expanding our understanding of mu-receptor function should greatly help to further our knowledge of the general mechanisms that underlie addiction.

The human body certainly is a complex machine. And we’re just scratching the surface.

Cannabis may complement hallucinogens

Of the four major drug categories, we probably know the least about the consequences of mixing hallucinogens and cannabis. 

Hallucinogens are a group of substances that ignite psychedelic effects, such as altering perception, mood, or thought processes. While many have their own specific mechanism of action, one mechanism that they all share is the activation of serotonin (5-HT2A) receptors.

Some common psychedelics include:

  • Psilocybin (the active compound in magic mushrooms)
  • LSD
  • Mescaline 
  • Ketamine
  • Salvia
  • MDMA
  • DMT
  • Dextromethorphan (found in cough suppressants such as Dimetapp or Mucinex)

Now we come to the fun stuff. Though I have only ever used one item on the list by accident (my very first dose of cannabis was mixed with Salvia. Leftover in a 2L lung from a previous smoking session), I would likely only consider doing one item on this list (psilocybin). Maybe 2 (Mescaline). The rest I am either not in the correct headspace for (LSD, DMT), or their potential for adulteration or ill health effects scares me (Ketamine, MDMA).

As for salvia and cough medicine, it’s hardly worth bothering when cannabis is legal in Canada. Edibles taste a whole lot better than something that may make me throw up.

THC can also be considered a hallucinogen when taken in high doses. Peterson points out that there’s some overlap in how psychedelics and cannabis work on the body. However, he also acknowledges that the interactions of cannabis and psychedelics may boil down to a question of dose and individual tolerance.

“The serotonin system (activated by psychedelics) is directly connected with the endocannabinoid system,” said Peterson. “Many consumers report enhanced psychoactivity with the combination, but others have reported it helps to mellow out the tripping experience. Using too much of either substance can be overwhelming.”

Peterson emphasizes that the most important thing to remember is that even if the combination of both feels intense, the safety profile of psychedelics and cannabis are very good and unlikely to cause major issues. 

“There’s little data at all for mixing hallucinogens with cannabis, but years of common experience has not shown any overt problems,” added Tishler.

Of the little data that does exist, recent research shows that mixing psychedelics and cannabis can enhance the mystical, awe-inspiring experiences that sometimes accompany psychedelic trips. Combining psychedelics with low doses of weed also appeared to reduce the chances of experiencing a bad trip, while high doses elevated feelings of both fear and “insanity” (the term used in the study).

So aside from temporarily losing your mind, mixing hallucinogens can be a relatively risk-free experience. Though I will not say this about Ketamine, which is shown to have medical risks (particularly with prolonged use).

How does cannabis interact with prescription medications and other substances?

Beyond these four major classes of drugs, there are other medications and compounds with which cannabis can interact. 

“Of the cannabinoids that we know about, thankfully THC doesn’t interact much,” said Tishler. 

“CBD, on the other hand, interacts with a wide range of common medications, even over the counter meds.” 

Examples of such medications include blood thinners like Warfarin and Clopidogrel; common heart medications like Amiodarone; immunosuppressive medications used for transplant patients like Tacrolimus, and antihistamines like Loratadine (also known as Claritin). There are even lists available detailing such interactions.

CBD inhibits the metabolic pathway used by these drugs, similar to other natural compounds like grapefruit or St. John’s Wort. When this pathway is suppressed, medications take longer to be metabolized or broken down by the body, so levels of the drug can accumulate and circulate in the blood for longer.

This in turn increases the likelihood of side effects, so if you’re thinking about using CBD, or cannabis in general, and you’re taking a prescription medication, it’s vital to chat with your doctor first.

Interesting. Though I hate the taste of grapefruit, I have always wondered why doctors often told people to avoid them while on certain medications. Now I know.

In closing, if you take nothing else from reading this, do not assume that just because THC and (particularly) CBD have a reasonably benign reputation when used in combination or on their own, they will be similarly benign when mixed with other substances.

Ask a medical expert and do your research.

Overcoming High School

Daily writing prompt
Describe something you learned in high school.

Though the writing prompt for today is Describe something you learned in high school, I have a hard time doing that. This is not to say that I didn’t learn ANYTHING during that period of my life. Nonetheless, the positives of my high school experience are far outnumbered by the negatives. Given that the culture in which I grew up put a lot of emphasis on the high school experience (“It’s the best time of your life!”), having not experienced that stoked both resentment and some regret. A toxic combination when one probably should be looking forward to what’s next instead of backward at the wreckage you have cultivated and/or circumvented in your wake.

I wouldn’t start putting it all behind me until around the mid to late 2010s when I trashed my yearbooks, school t-shits and other reminders. I had kept them around because that is what people do.
However, my feelings were neither romantic nor nostalgic when I looked through them. The most common sentiments I felt were regret, animosity, and a touch of jealousy.
Regret because of everything I missed out on because of my various distractions. Animosity, because not having the same good experience as people around me, seemingly creates resentment. And jealousy because I’m human. Of course, I’m jealous of those who didn’t have the same experience as me.

* * *

Before we proceed, I will note an interesting coincidence that is an album that helped get me through a lot of the nonsense of the time.
Walking down the street sometime in 2002 or 2003, I found a burned white cd on the side of the road. Burned as in created on a computer by someone.

The disk contained 2 different albums. I loved the dark, hostile nature of the music on the initial album (the other was more comedic). Though I didn’t know who either artist was then, both brought me a fair bit of comfort. I got a good dose of angst and aggression from the first album and some comedic relief from the 2ed.

It wasn’t until after I left high school that I learned that one of the albums I was listening to was the Tenacious D debut album (though my version left out the song Tribute, which was unfortunate since it’s great on its own merits). As for the other artist, I would become aware of them through another of their songs debuting on satellite radio. When I heard Driven (Sevendust), I immediately recognized the familiar sound of the mystery band I loved. After that, I soon discovered that the album I knew well was called Animosity (their debut in the mainstream scene).

Very fitting.

* * *

Though I started to declutter myself of the baggage of high school in the 2010’s it would take somewhat longer to come to terms with the situation. Part of it comes with the maturity that one can only achieve by aging and putting time between the past situation and the present.

One habit I learned to stop doing was replaying everything in my head endlessly, as though some goal would be achieved. It does not matter what these people did or why they did it; it’s the past. They left it behind, likely 3 seconds after the fact. Time for me to get over it.

Though that was the initial phase, I would not progress further until more time passed and I started to become familiar with philosophy. Again, not being a scholar of the subject, I have trouble describing exactly how philosophy played a role in my life. The best way I can say it is my interpretation helped me really separate myself from situations in order to achieve an outside view. Doing this allows you to more readily notice what might otherwise be hard to note being too close to a situation.

Part of this separation helps to promote more empathy towards others. I am able to better understand people by taking in all of the variables, as opposed to just projecting myself on them and judging based on that.
I like to think of Philosophy as the sum of all human knowledge, which only grows with time. This is one way that people pursue philosophy, but not the only one. That few philosophers agree on anything makes for an interesting subject.

As for how it applies to my life, though, that comes in the ability to look inward and see the different stages of my own growth. Like many things involving the human condition (like cultural changes), the transitions between these stages tend to be hard to notice. I could never pin down a day, a week or event that would mark a now versus then moment. Nonetheless, the changes become more noticeable the more time passes.

To reference the music scene as an example, one rarely comprehends the peak of a musical phenomenon (hair metal, grunge, Nu-metal etc.) when they are living through it. Though it becomes clear the further along into the next phenomenon one finds themselves. Often painfully so for lifetime fans of said genres.

To return to the original topic, recognizing this new person that I am has been a big reason why I’ve been able to let go of high school and everything that happened therein. One of the biggest lessons of the new me is not holding the older me to the same standards as I do with the current me. That is to say, not gawking at the decisions I made back then, which don’t make much sense now.

Maybe I shouldn’t have turned the attention of my school division’s almost entirely anonymous cyberbullying forum onto me by defending the victims of said forum using my real name. Maybe I should have recognized sooner that the person who was extorting me into dating them was also sending me threats to keep me around (and not her disappointed friends and family). Maybe I should have recognized the signs far earlier than I did. Maybe I should have reversed course in many of these decisions far earlier than I did.
I can contemplate a million maybe scenarios regarding how I should or shouldn’t have acted based on what I know now. But it doesn’t matter since I DIDN’T know then what I know now.

Let’s evaluate what I did have.

In grade 9, I had a body full of adolescent hormones and everything that comes with that. A life dominated by faceless cyberbullies and a girlfriend extorting me into staying with her (2 situations that were separate, but would migrate into 1 big mess later). And while all of this was happening, I was facing pressure from school officials and family to plan my future. Because the decisions you make now can close doors later on.

I learned to cope by simply looking forward to my death, my future suicide. I never made any plans or set any actual dates for offing myself. I just liked having The End just over the horizon to take the bite out of whatever stress any particular day was giving me.

Though both the cyberbullying and the extortive girlfriend situations had resolved themselves by grade 10, it took me a long time to adapt to this new, far less combative existence. Though I had far less reason to be feeling blue during the rest of my high school career, I never really altered the pattern I had developed in grade 9. So I clung to the security blanket that would be my eventual suicide.

And before I knew it, I was an adult. I was 18, and suddenly high school became a choice. And so I decided to no longer attend, choosing instead to work. Because work brought money, and the money bought smokes, alcohol, weed and other fun stuff. So began the next stage of life.

My coping mechanism gradually changed when I got far enough removed from high school and fully ingrained into the working world. I no longer felt any real desire to end my life, though I still didn’t have much use for future planning. It has led to my first 17ish years in the workforce being somewhat rudderless in finding any career direction.

As far as my resume is concerned, my life is together. I have never had a job gap since I moved into the job market years ago. But I have also never really thrived anywhere, either. Instead, I’ve spent many years simply eking out an existence in familiar work environments that were either mismanaged, toxic, or a rabid combination of the 2. Instead of my inevitable end being my security blanket, my daily life turmoil became my main distraction.

Finding a less chaotic, more well-managed work environment made me realize that I had been forming new bad habits as an adult. Though I thought I had put much of the teenage stuff behind me, I just evolved old habits to match a new routine.

As the title of this post elaborates, I have in fact, come a long way in terms of coming to terms with a lot of this stuff. Forgiveness helped a lot since it takes much more energy to keep hating people than it does to just let it go and move on. Because of this, I am now good friends with the same girl that once extorted me (or at least attempted to do so) back in High School.

Nonetheless, as the past year or so has made clear, I still have some work to do. I finally passed my road test earlier this month (I had been putting it off since 2012!). And I’ve finally begun seriously considering a career change into the IT industry. Though I have yet to decide where I will go within that vast expanse (IT is a huge field), viewing it as more than a distant possibility is a nice change. Having understood a fair bit of the basics (as explained in ITProTV’s CompTIA IT Fundimentals+ series) tells me I already have a reasonably good grasp of the technology.

To close this piece, I guess the part I most want readers to grasp is not to feel too cheated, irritated or sad if high school for you was not the idyllic experience that others seemingly lived. For one, none of it matters long-term once you hit adulthood.
As for those with terrible experiences, it depends on what is entailed by bad experiences.

Not all events or traumas are equal. But many of these things should become easier to deal with the further from the situation (in terms of time) that you are. Another thing that may help is understanding that just because you would have made X decision today does not mean you would have had the capability to make that same decision back then. Looking back with regret isn’t healthy. What matters most is how to proceed from where you are in the here and now.

If I Could Be Any Fictional Character, Who Would I Be?

Daily writing prompt
If you could be a character from a book or film, who would you be? Why?

In today’s world of chaos that seems increasingly on the edge of nuclear-fueled bombastic insanity, these little journeys into the world of the fictional are a welcome diversion. Thank you for that, WordPress team.

In considering this list, there are several characters which I would consider. My first choice would be, of course, one of the protagonists from my still-in-progress novel. In this story, we have a married couple of private detectives who are skilled in the realm of physical penetration testing. Though they are not as strong in terms of the cyber angle of pen testing, the 3ed protagonist is a close female friend and associate of whom maintains a job at an ISP, but also moonlights as the detective’s hacker whenever the need arises.

Though the original character started off as a male, I realized that to be very much mirroring of the actual tech industry itself. It tends to be a male-dominated sector. As such, why can’t a female play the part of a skilled tech genius with a cool career and a kickass side gig?

After all, Mr Robot had Darlene, Trenton, Dominique, Angela and many other strong female characters (and lets not forget the oh-so-dynamic White Rose).

One will recognize a bit of a theme in this piece. My discovery and immediate fascination of all things techy and cyber back in around 2017 or so paved the way for completing my book (which was unfinished for a decade. A product of writer’s block). Though I never knew it at the time, listening to hours and hours of hacking slash security podcasts like Security Now and Darknet Diaries would end up helping to write the last part of my book. All because it answered one big question that had me stumped for a long time:

How do you break into a giant corporation and snoop undetected?

As it turns out, very easily in a great many cases.

Because of this, my taste in fiction tends to be less in the realm of sci-fi or comic and more reality-adjacent. I like characters that fit into the real world as it is in a nutshell.

Following my praise of Mr. Robot, it is probably no surprise that my first pick on this list is Elliot Alderson. I’ve always liked the very human-like characteristics he embodies from the very beginning of the series (including the struggles that often accompany our mortal human existences, such as misanthropy and addiction). The vast depth of the character which we learn about later (along with that of White Rose), is a nice treat to go with the rest of the series. I’m sure the Tyler Durden similarity isn’t a coincidence, though I feel like the Alderson character traits are more likely based on real documented traits (which would fit with the well-researched nature of the show).

My next character of choice would probably be Sherlock Holmes from the BBC’s 2010’s iteration of the series. From the moment I lay eyes on this series (sometime in 2014, if memory serves), I was hooked. Though there is certainly a lot going on in general, his lack of consideration for everyday social etiquette was never disappointing. But an unnecessary barrier standing in the way of solving whatever puzzle is at hand.

The part that strikes me the most about the character is the sort of ironic humbleness he tries to employ when people call him brilliant or get swept away by his deductions. Thus the phrase “you see, but you do not observe“.
It’s a concept that is very much transferable to real life. And very much headache-inducing when people just don’t fucking get what is seemingly right in front of them.

However, he was not the only character in the series that fascinated me. The character of Moriarty certainly is something to behold. A man seemingly of equal intellect to Sherlock, who seemingly passes the days by making the unthinking idiots (terrorists, spies or other criminals) “dance.” A world which would not be complete without the set-ups seemingly created just for Sherlock. Even Sherlock couldn’t scratch Moriarty’s itch of boredom, leading to his blowing his brains out (followed closely by Sherlock’s very public demise) at the end of series 3.

However, he was not the only character in the series that fascinated me. The character of Moriarty certainly is something to behold. A man seemingly of equal intellect to Sherlock, who seemingly passes the days by making the unthinking idiots (terrorists, spies or other criminals) “dance.” A world which would not be complete without the set-ups seemingly created just for Sherlock. And even Sherlock eventually couldn’t scratch Moriarty’s itch of boredom, leading to his eventual suicide on the rooftop of St. Barts (followed in short order by Sherlock’s very public demise).

Really, the show has many characters that I find fascinating. Irene Adler had a way of putting Sherlock in his place, and not just because of her pass time as a dominatrix, either.
Charles Agustus Magnusun (the show’s take on infamous Aussie tabloid mogul Rupert Murdoch) also proved chillingly interesting.

Take this quote:

Magnussen: Knowing is owning.

Watson: But if you just know it, then you don’t have proof.

Magnussen: Proof? What would I need proof for. I’m in news, you moron. I don’t have to prove it, I just have to print it.

Consider that this statement was uttered in the midst of the social media age and not all that long before the era of increasingly hard-to-spot deep fakes.

The last interesting character I want to mention showed up in the 4th series of the show (the one I like the least).
Episode 1 (The Six Thatchers) starts off with what is supposed to be a super important meeting involving all those knowledgeable of the demise of previously mentioned Charles Augustus Magnussen. However, a high Sherlock quickly derails things by peppering Lady Smallwood’s seemingly incompetent secretary Vivian Norbury with ridiculous and unrelated questions. Though she may have seemed like a typical idiot to everyone in the room, she outwitted everyone by the end of the episode.

Though the show’s last series went off a cliff, I think the first 2 to 3 seasons were a treat that I still occasionally go back to.

I don’t know what to think about the final problem showcasing the vengeance of Sherlock’s locked-up sister Eurus Holmes (seemingly with a helping hand from Moriarty). Though I have that critique, I have to say that I disagree with the fairly common one that accuses the series of queer-baiting. Though I can certainly see where the accusation can come from, I feel there are better explanations available for this trait in the characters’ backgrounds.
Starting with Sherlock and John, the taboo that is men admitting to their own sexuality is still so strong in society today that all the little insinuations all over the series come across to me as just making light of this silliness. As for Moriarty and Irene Adler, I’d say that their queer sexuality just adds richness to their character.

That this wouldn’t fit in previous adaptations of Sherlock . . . no kidding. Even Elvis’s swinging hips were at one time too racy for prime-time television. And besides, I’d much rather shows not just keep adding token characters to align with the winds of change and progress. As Mr. Robot and Sherlock showcase, sexuality can bring far more richness to a character than simply checking a box.

The last character I would love to walk in the shoes of is from a film that debuted 23 years ago. That character is Memphis Raines, played by Nicolas Cage in the film Gone In 60 Seconds. I loved this movie as a teenager and still love that movie. Who wouldn’t want to be the guy who gets to drive the infamous Elenore!

Wanna be that guy? Have at least $1,000,000 on hand to spare. Though putting 2 or 3 mill extra on the side would be more likely to garner the winning bid.

As with many of my childhood fascinations, adulthood seems to always bring with it a bitter pill to swallow. In this case, it’s the copyright holders of the Gone In 60 Seconds franchise’s quickness in bringing lawsuits to seemingly anyone that dares try and reconstruct the Elenore, the infamous Shelby GT500 from the film. Fortunately, that seems to have ended now, according to this December 2022 article.

Another unfortunate aspect of this film is that the theft methods (or reasons) have not changed much in the last 23 years.

This becomes even worse when one finds out that Honda has been caught with a vulnerability in its remote locking system.

The “Rolling-Pwn” attack, uncovered by Star-V Lab security researchers Kevin2600 and Wesley Li, exploits a vulnerability in the way Honda’s keyless entry system transmits authentication codes between the car and the key fob. It works in a similar way to the recently discovered Bluetooth replay attack affecting some Tesla vehicles; using easily purchasable radio equipment, the researchers were able to eavesdrop and capture the codes, then broadcast them back to the car in order to gain access.

This allowed the researchers to remotely unlock and start the engines of cars affected by the vulnerability, which includes models from as far back as 2012 and as recent as 2022. But according to The Drive, which independently tested and verified the vulnerability on a Honda Accord 2021, the key fob flaw doesn’t allow an attacker to drive off with the vehicle.

It may not allow you to drive off with the vehicle, but it does render any form of security of the contents completely moot. Don’t leave any Christmas gifts or valuables in the car!

And it doesn’t matter if they can’t start the engine, anyway. As we have learned from Marketplace, this makes the car easier to steal. They no longer need to use a lissi pick. Which are also easy to obtain online (case in point, 1 own one!).

As noted by the researchers, this kind of attack should be prevented by the vehicle’s rolling codes mechanism — a system introduced to prevent replay attacks by providing a new code for each authentication of a remote keyless entry. Vehicles have a counter that checks the chronology of the generated codes, increasing the count when it receives a new code.

Kevin2600 and Wesley Li found that the counter in Honda vehicles is resynchronized when the car vehicle gets lock and unlock commands in a consecutive sequence, causing the car to accept codes from previous sessions that should have been invalidated.

“By sending the commands in a consecutive sequence to the Honda vehicles, it will be resynchronizing the counter,” the researchers write. “Once counter resynced, commands from the previous cycle of the counter worked again. Therefore, those commands can be used later to unlock the car at will.”

The researchers say they tested their attack on several Honda models, including the Honda Civic 2012, Honda Accord 2020 and Honda Fit 2022, but warn that the security vulnerability could affect “all Honda vehicles currently existing on the market” and may also affect other manufacturers’ cars.

The kicker to all of this is Honda’s response.

However, in a statement given to TechCrunch, Honda spokesperson Chris Naughton said the company “can confirm claims that it is possible to employ sophisticated tools and technical know-how to mimic Remote Keyless commands and gain access to certain vehicles or ours.

“However, while it is technically possible, we want to reassure our customers that this particular kind of attack, which requires continuous close-proximity signal capture of multiple sequential RF transmissions, cannot be used to drive the vehicle away. Furthermore, Honda regularly improves security features as new models are introduced that would thwart this and similar approaches,” Naughton said, noting that while the company has “no plan” to update older vehicles, redesigned 2022 and 2023 model year vehicles have an improved system that would prevent this type of attack from working.

Sure, you can not drive the vehicle away based on this vulnerability. However, anyone with any knowledge of modern-day cyber security awareness should know that the problem isn’t just with single vulnerabilities anymore. Problems come from several vulnerabilities chained together to form 1 stealth attack. It is how many get around the safeguards employed by various software vendors (KEEP YOUR GADGETS UPDATED!) both at democons like Blackhat and in the wild. And it is how all of these vehicles (Honda’s or otherwise) are still being stolen Gone In 60 Seconds style decades later.

In closing this piece (since I have to get to work soon!), I guess it would be cool to be Memphis Rains because, assuming he is still around, he would still have a job today! After all, it seems the tech revolution helped car thieves far more than it ever deterred them.

Maybe I also feel this way because Gone In 60 Seconds was a one-time thing (well, outside of the old versions). Though I had equal liking for The Fast And The Furious as a teen, that would change over the years as the franchise kept getting increasingly rediculous. That, and certain actors therein would sour my view of the franchise even more by way of their various idiodic publicly shared opinions.

Indeed, it is true that the brand and the actors should not be conflated. Even considering that, though, the brand lost me years ago.

I’m All About The Cats, About The Cats, No Doggies

Daily writing prompt
What animals make the best/worst pets?

First of all, Happy Easter to everyone. What a good way to make use of this holiday than to write about the cute and cuddly friends that make our lives more tolerable.

As the title suggests, I am a cat person. I have always loved every one of these furry, independent and totally different personalities in my life at different times (including my current set, a tabby and a black ragdoll). I do not let them roam the streets, though they are fully up to date on all vaccinations and spayed. My neighbourhood has enough strays as it is that the area birds are always going to be in competition. And its much easier to keep them out of trouble. Though I don’t think the tabby would run out the door even if it was left open, I fear the ragdoll wouldn’t know enough to get out of the way of impending danger (cars). She certainly doesn’t when it comes to walking (a sometimes dicey predicament when one is climbing the stairs).

I used to hate dogs, particularly noisy dogs. The kind that yip and yap at every little sound emanated from within the neighbourhood. And I would never own a dog since the idea of doggy breath and slobber is . . . not for me lol. Friendly pooch or not, I don’t like being licked by dogs. Though I let my cat do it (interpreting it as a sign of affection, and/or her way of nourishing our bond), I still wash my hands afterward.

However, I no longer blame the dogs for their noisy behaviour since wiser folk than my ideologically biased self once told me that dogs are only as bad as their owners. For every noisy dog there is a bad owner that never bothered to train the animal.

Another thing this person taught me was that dogs aren’t nearly as dirty as I once taught them to be in terms of bathroom habits. Whilst dogs generally take care of their business outdoors, cats need to have a box of clay in the house that may or may not almost always end up scattered all across the floor of the room which contains it, and beyond. And this box needs daily attention since the smell can become quite noticeable very quickly when it comes to neglect. Even if you don’t really notice it, everyone that enters your house certainly will.

Whilst it isn’t exactly nice to have the snow melt away to reveal a winter’s worth of dog dung all over the public domain, such is hardly the dogs fault.

Not that I would ever suggest that anyone do this, but imagine the look on the uncaring litterbug’s face if all this shitE ended up dupped on their front lawn. Free fertilizer!

Moving on to a new class of pets, birds. I have lived with birds before (as a kid) and like the idea a bit, but so too could the cats. I’m sure nothing short of the bite of a Macaw keep these predators at bay.
That and birds are too high-maintenance a pet for me to even consider. If the cage is left for too long, you have the same issue of overwhelming smells.

I have always lived in the company of bunnies. Though they are soft and cuddly (and surprisingly territorial, particularly females), they are also too high maintenance. The smell from an unmaintained cage also became unbearable in fairly short order.

I also have limited exposure when it comes to exotic critters (Snakes).

Though they do in fact fit into the category that is Pet, having handled a snake (a ball python in particular) makes it hard for me to use that label. The word Pet lends itself to all things fluffy and warm. Cats, dogs, bunnies and the like. Which is not the feeling that is invoked by having a python draped on one’s neck.

Though I wouldn’t really call it fear (though it certainly factored in), a word more apt would be strange. The skin is cool and scally, and its nose is in its tongue. So even though it seemed a tad terrifying that it was moving its head up and down my stomach whilst sticking out ots forked tongue, it was in truth, likely just sizing me up. It was probably just as confused about me as I was about it lol.

To close, though there are many different options when it comes to critters that will keep us company and bring us joy, I am all bout the kitties. But that is just my personal preference. You enjoy whatever critter brings you the most warmth.

Just do not neglect your critter.

Is “Big Cannabis” Faking Research For The $$$?

Tonight, we will be looking into a Fox News expose on the actions of what they call big cannabis. This is a segment in which Laura Ingraham shines a light on business practices of the cannabis industry that she seems to deem as unethical.

Though this is likely the first time anyone at Fox News has questioned the ethics of any industry (or taken the human consequences of said ethics into consideration), so be it. Just as a broken clock has 2 chances to be correct in a 24-hour cycle, so too does an otherwise questionable news organization have the chance of unearthing something questionable.

If only that were the case, however. Instead, the focus is on institutions of higher education accepting gifts from the marijuana industry.
It is worth raising an eyebrow over, but not without considering that there were (until very recently) no other sources of financial aid for bankrolling cannabis research. And it has been this way for decades, which has left us with a deficit of study for a substance ingrained in social behaviour long enough to never be uncommon. A deficit made even more pronounced because the substance has been slowly evolving under the status of prohibition.

You do hear about this evolution of cannabis from Laura’s guest (the executive vice president of SMART Approaches to Marijuana. Because, of course). But you don’t hear it in that context. All you hear about is the hugely raised potency of modern-day cannabis and its connections to addiction, psychosis and other common fear-mongering tacts of his ilk. I expect nothing less from a network committed to a cohort that never left the 18th century.

Luke the VP later goes on to rant about the growing Cannabis industry, supposedly taking a page from big tobacco in the action they used (including targeting the product towards children). While I am unsure of how true this actually is, there is no doubt that the vaping industry certainly made headway toward getting a whole new generation addicted to nicotine. And as usual, it took regulators so long to catch up that the damage was already largely done. Vaping teenagers have now grown into vaping adults.

Luke also mentioned the millions of deaths associated with the tobacco industry during its heyday in inflicting death in the developed world (note that they never stopped! They just shipped focus to the underdeveloped world). Something that I find interesting given that the head of his employer was in a high-ranking position during the worst of the American opioid epidemic.
And what did he do after retiring from that position (which he held though 3 administrations)? Started a lobby group against the further legalization of marijuana.

Kevin Abraham Sabet (born February 20, 1979) is a former three-time White House Office of National Drug Control Policy advisor, having been the only person appointed to that office by both a Republican (Administration of George W. Bush) and Democrat (Obama Administration and Clinton Administration).

* * *

With Patrick J. Kennedy, Sabet co-founded Smart Approaches to Marijuana in Denver in January 2013 and has since emerged as a leading opponent of marijuana legalization in the United States.

If only as much attention were paid to the opioid peddlers as was (IS!) being paid to the cannabis distributors of the US, maybe more people would still be with us. Instead of being victims of corrupt Doctors, pharmacists, drug reps and companies and, ultimately, a very flawed legal framework.

And yet, once again, we’re wading through the propaganda of this organization that has no choice but to resort to scaremongering since Americans are increasingly embracing what their childish governments failed to do for decades.

Cannabis isn’t going anywhere. Cannabis should never HAVE gone anywhere, to begin with. But most importantly, anyone that claims that prohibition is the solution because “OH MY GOD, NO RESEARCH!!!” is the problem.

Indeed, I’m hardly breaking into new insight territory in this piece. But I feel little need. I’ve said plenty about these bad actors of cannabis policy, and their predictable displays of moral panic and misinformation are hardly worth my time.

Just know that a segment of the population is eating this up. And they vote.

As it turns out, it gets better. Long time reporter on the cannabis scene High Times also covered the Fox News interview but went even more in-depth into researching the background of SMART than I did. Credit to for their portion of the research.

In 2016, Vice explored in detail who exactly is bankrolling SAM’s agenda to fight cannabis legalization. Among the list of donors, they found a casino owner, a former U.S. ambassador, cops, prison guards, alcohol merchants, and a pharma company that sells fentanyl.

A $500,000 donation from Insys Therapeutics matched a donation from Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy for the top donors. Insys is a pharmaceutical company known for selling the painkiller fentanyl in the form of a sublingual spray. 

A Washington Post article explored how Insys Therapeutics spent half a million trying to keep pot illegal and “just got DEA approval for synthetic marijuana.” Ironically, a federal jury in 2019 found Insys Therapeutics Founder John Kapoor guilty of running a widespread scheme to bribe doctors nationwide to speak about the company’s fentanyl spray, Subsys.

I know of Insys Therapeutics due to the episode of American Greed that covered it, but this video should suffice for the rest of you.

Though High Times deems this relationship ironic, it actively makes me angry. Not only the conflict of interest aspect but the fact that SMART seemingly overlooked the huge problem that Insys had a history of killing people. Yet here they are, pointing scared fingers at the budding Cannabis industry and crying foul at a herb.

While it is true that cannabis should NOT be sold as an entirely harmless substance, it is obvious that not all proponents of the cautionary cannabis legislation movement are in it for the sake of social health and welfare. Even if they started from that standpoint, they clearly have no issues with being a tool in an alternative agenda by accepting funds from industries in direct competition with future cannabis endeavours.

Given all of this, am I surprised that the vice president of SMART would go on national television and blatantly engage in hypocrisy?

Not really. Because those with no morals have no gauge of what is right, only what benefits the cause.

Can The Toxicity Of Sport Culture Be Fixed?

Though the opening paragraph of this entry is indeed much more narrowly focused than the title would otherwise dictate, the reason was that my attention was strictly focused on Hockey Canada at the onset of writing this. I have since learned that hockey isn’t alone in having a questionable culture within its ranks and organizations, so as such the title has been altered to outline this observation.

Though Hockey is still the primary focus of this piece, it is not the only community that ought to get its house in order.

* * *

Today’s topic starts with a question on my part. What is Hockey Canada?

As a Canadian, I have heard about the organization in passing throughout my life, owing to its domineering presence in helping to foster Canada’s unofficial but insanely popular hobby of interest. But I have never had the inclination to look any further than the little that I knew.

Though that started to change as the organization started to come under fire in the past year or so, the question only entered my mind after coming across this article from the CBC.

As I embark on this journey, I will first openly admit to my readers that I come into this with a somewhat biased mindset. The news of Hockey Canada using cash to cover up sexual assault allegations against players it represented wasn’t exactly a great look. And in all honesty, Canadian hockey culture as a whole tends to irritate me in its continued conformity of toxic elements and lack of desire to change.
Some may call this an argument of Wokeism. I view it more as part of the longstanding and everlasting legacy of figureheads like Don Cherry.

Either way, my relationship with Hockey fans has not been positive for a VERY long time. Nonetheless, facts and figures are non-partisan, thus I will do my best to remain mostly neutral going forward.

Before I start to wade into the ugliness, let’s start first by answering my initial question . . . what is Hockey Canada?

According to Wikipedia, it is the national governing body of both Ice Hockey and Ice Sledge hockey in Canada. Since I was also curious, Sledge (or Para) Hockey is a neat adaptation of the original sport designed to include athletes with a physical disability in the lower half of the body.
According to the official Hockey Canada mission page, they oversee all officially sanctioned Hockey in the nation, from entry-level teams to Team Canada (performing in the World Championships and the Winter Olympics). Hockey Canada works in conjunction with many provincial and regional organizations within Canada and represents Canada in the International Ice Hockey Federation.

I will now switch to the CBC article I linked earlier.

CBC asked other sports organizations if they have funds like Hockey Canada. Here’s what they said

As Hockey Canada faces widespread criticism over three funds it used to settle several sexual abuse complaints out of court, governance experts say it’s actually a “good business” decision for an organization to protect itself against non-insurable claims — though most can’t afford to do so.

In one case, Hockey Canada used these funds to settle a multimillion-dollar lawsuit after a complainant alleged she was the victim of a group sexual assault involving World Junior players in 2018.

CBC News informally surveyed a dozen national sporting organizations (NSOs), and none admitted to having similar funds.

Many NSOs are in the process of switching their complaints process to one provided by the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC) and its Abuse-Free Sport Independent Complaint Office, although some still have their own internal reporting systems, or use independent third parties to deal with such claims.

First off, it isn’t surprising to me that the Hockey Canada treasury would be much more full than that of other sporting organizations. And that they keep a segment of this cash aside for quote non-insurable claims isn’t all that out of the ordinary (I’m sure all businesses of scale have such a fund). The question I have is what Hockey Canada’s definition of non-insurable claims is.

Though these things are not going to be officially documented, you can determine them by knowing what purposes the fund was used for in the past. Has it been used to settle other problems, or is it just a war chest for when an inconvenient truth is exposed about hockey players backed by Hockey Canada at nearly every step of their career?

That the necessity of such a fund is seemingly deemed necessary potentially speaks volumes about the toxicity of the culture that these players are a part of in their rise to peak performance.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. After all, the article clearly states that Hockey Canada is not the only sporting organization that would like to have such a fund available (though most can’t afford it). This would seem to speak to potential problems existing not just in the realm of hockey culture.

But moving on from that for now, I am interested in the proposed complaints process as created by the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC).

The plan would have the OSIC formally accept complaints through its Abuse-free Sport Complaint Office, which would then forward the information to the relevant organizations and teams. While I like this approach (it makes it harder for organizations to bury thorny situations), it still does little to ensure anything is really done about the problem. Not to mention that not all organizations will utilize the office, to begin with (no doubt Hockey Canada will be one of those NSOs handling complaints in-house).

I feel like legislation may be the only answer to this problem. Otherwise, we’re just dealing with a Catholic Church of the sporting world.

Richard Powers, a lawyer and associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, says that though there’s “nothing the matter” with the existence of those funds — “it’s good governance and a very good business decision” — there are issues with “the transparency” about how fees paid by hockey families across the country were being used.

“That is really the critical factor here — and one of the things that they’re going to have to change moving forward, if they’re going to [attempt] to regain the trust of Canadians.”

No kidding.

Why does Hockey Canada have these funds?

Former Hockey Canada officials have confirmed the existence of the National Equity Fund and the Participants Legacy Trust Fund. 

A third fund was discovered by former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell, who was commissioned to look into a controversial reserve fund used to quietly settle uninsured liabilities — including sexual assault allegations. 

His interim report found the reserve fund is necessary, but he also uncovered serious flaws with how it has been handled

During a July 27 parliamentary hearing, Brian Cairo, Hockey Canada’s chief financial officer, told MPs the equity fund was set up in 1995, because “some risks can’t be insured” by commercial liability insurance.

“It was recognized that there are just some unforeseen circumstances where claims are not insured, and you can think of Graham James,” Cairo said, referring to the former junior hockey coach who was convicted of sexually abusing players in the 1980s and early 1990s. 

Of the nine claims paid out of the reserve fund for a total of $7.6 million, $6.8 million of those were related to the James case, Cairo said.

Well, that answers one of my questions. Also . . . Graham James. I had forgotten all about that very dark stain on Canadian Hockey’s reputation.

For those that don’t know, Graham James was a renowned coach within hockey circles for at least 3 decades. I’ll let Shelden Kenedy (one of his many victims) fill you in on some of the depravities of his tenure of coaching minors.

Sheldon Kennedy was coached by Graham James, a highly respected and nationally famous coach, as a junior-level hockey player in Winnipeg, and then during the late 1980s on the Swift Current Broncos of Canada’s Western Hockey League. Between the ages of 14 and 19, Kennedy was sexually abused by James. The abuse went on, twice weekly, between 1984 and 1990.

“Kennedy testified he was first abused when he received permission from his parents to spend the weekend at James’ house to discuss his future in hockey.” (Knight-Ridder, 1/9/97)

“Kennedy has said that James sexually assaulted him more than 350 times, beginning when Kennedy was 14. He said he was assaulted while playing on several clubs with which James had an affiliation.” (Knight-Ridder Newspapers, 1/9/97)

Kennedy said: “The coach is so respected. Your parents send you away and say, ‘Do what he says.’ At that age, you listen. That’s your first step if you want to play pro.” (Ottawa Citizen, 1/9/97)

“Kennedy describes his life as a lonely, living hell. He was sexually abused as a teen by Graham James, his coach and “father figure,” who controlled his hockey career and his daily life from the time he was 14 to 19. Kennedy found he was unable to make friends. Unable to trust and unable to love. Unable to feel “normal” unless he was drinking. Unable to turn a junior career into a solid National Hockey League career. Suicidal at times because inner turmoil haunted him. “You feel people are looking at you. I put up a shield. I didn’t let anybody in. It’s a very lonely way to feel. You never feel normal. You know something is wrong but you don’t know why it is like that,’ Kennedy said.” (Calgary Herald, 1/7/97)

A friend of Kennedy’s said: “The coach is a godlike figure — he holds all the cards. I guess in a situation like [Kennedy’s] a kid can go home, but that is the end of your hockey career. That is the problem. There is no way to turn.” (Washington Post, 1/8/97)

“He was 14 or 15 and James was 31 or 32 when the assaults began. Every Tuesday and Thursday for six years, Kennedy went to James’ house. Kennedy said, ‘He considered me his wife. There was absolutely nowhere for me to turn. I had no one, nobody.'” (Los Angeles Times, 1/7/97)

“When Kennedy was 15 he told James a lie – that he had been abused by a teacher – in the hopes that James would stop the molestation. ‘He didn’t even blink an eye,’ said Kennedy. ‘He kept me with him all the time. It was like we were married. It was unbelievable.'” (Calgary Herald, 1/7/97)

“Kennedy said if James was fired from one team and started coaching another he would ‘keep trading for me.'” (Toronto Sun, 5/9/97)

“‘You do not have a clue what to do,” Kennedy said. “You tell your mom and she makes you come home. You tell your friends and they will just portray you as a gay guy. It is just a very scary thing.'” (Detroit News, 1/7/97)

“Kennedy…said he considered suicide several times.” (Tampa Tribune, 1/11/97)

Fortunately for Shelden Kenedy, he would find some reprieve in his transition to the NHL just after this point in his life. He would go on to have a career playing for the Calgary Flames, The Detroit Red Wings and (my favourite team) The Boston Bruins. Interestingly enough, he was also born in my home city of Brandon, Manitoba.

If there is one thing that can be taken from this, it’s that a female with an accusation against anyone within the hockey system would have NO chance of being taken seriously if people wouldn’t even listen to the athletes themselves. Though I am unsure of how the culture exists now (it has been 20 years), the tendency of hockey fandoms to turn skilled players and coaches into almost god-like figures certainly does not bode well for improvement.

Have there been changes in terms of this toxic culture within hockey?

I honestly don’t know. If you like, feel free to leave your answer in a comment.

Sports ‘haves and have-nots’

While it may be good business practice, most NSOs can’t afford such funds — they’re just trying to survive, said Eric MacIntosh, a professor of sport management at the University of Ottawa. 

“Wouldn’t it be nice to have a fund to protect against these unforeseen events? Ideally, yes,” said MacIntosh, who does research on culture and high-performance sport in Canada. He’s also a former junior hockey player and now coaches his own kids.

“In practice, I think it’s very difficult. Many national sport organizations in our country are underfunded, they’re understaffed. It’s a haves and have-nots in our Canadian sports system.”

Concordia University economics professor Moshe Lander says while he doesn’t know of any other NSOs with funds similar to Hockey Canada’s, he finds it hard to believe they don’t exist, since most sports carry similar risks of power imbalances between adult coaches and young athletes.

He said it’s also possible for organizations to confuse and distract the auditor general from discovering such funds. “There’s lots of ways that you can cover that stuff up,” he said.

“It really requires that it’s the victims that started coming forward saying ‘I was paid and I’m going to break my nondisclosure agreement because this is for the greater good. Go ahead. Sue me. Let’s see this in the public light.’ “

It strikes me as bothersome that the status quo seems to be based upon just assuming the worst. While I understand this viewpoint from an organizational risk perspective, the attitude also strikes me as being based on the notion of “Shit happens”. While it can be said to be true that chances of all possible outcomes rise along with the number of people you are tasked with dealing with, this isn’t an excuse for not attempting to provide preventative measures in an attempt to further limit liability.

But again, this is an assumption. Maybe there are things happening behind the scenes that I don’t know of. Again, feel free to leave a comment.

What other national sports organizations say

CBC News reached out to 12 other national sport organizations to find out if they have similar funds. 

Soccer Canada was the only one that did not provide responses in time for publication, though a spokesperson said the request was in the queue.

Considering that this link to an article detailing how Soccer Canada mishandled sexual assault allegations against a coach was shown right after this paragraph, were not off to a great start.

Athletics Canada

Athletics Canada does not have and has not had, as part of its budget, a contingency fund for non-insurable liabilities, said Caroline Sharp, a national teams communications specialist.

She would not directly answer if Athletics Canada, the national organization for track and field athletes, has ever settled a case out of court, saying because the spectrum of what behaviour constitutes abuse or harassment is so broad — from comments that can be perceived as harassment, to conduct involving grooming and sexual assault — the process allows for “informal resolution.”

“Athletics Canada is not privy to the total number of cases that have been resolved through informal means,” she said.

Since 2015, complaints of violations of the organization’s Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport have gone through Athletic Canada’s Commissioner’s Office, which Sharp says operates “completely independently” from Athletics Canada.

As of Mar. 31, 2023, complaints involving Athletics Canada will go to the OSIC.

While the initial reply comes across as a bit slimy, I like the mitigation strategy. Along with this, the organization does appear to be making it easier for whistleblowers to come forward, so overall a good result.

Though the CBC article goes on to cover the status of other sporting organizations, with most of them showcasing various levels of transparency and accountability relating to issues past and present. The related articles field contains one link about athletes calling out a toxic culture within gymnastics, and another outlining (from a previous victim’s perspective) how the culture surrounding most sports in Canada still has a long ways to go in terms of enabling whistleblowers.

* * *

When I started this entry, my focus was mainly aimed towards Hockey. Hockey culture was slash IS an easy punching bag since it’s both the most prominent sport one encounters in Canada (by far), and the sport I am most familiar with. Which isn’t saying much since I know very little about it.

Another reason why Hockey was so intensely in my sights was the fact that various forms of toxicity are well-known to be a part of the hockey scene, and have been that way for decades. And I’m not just talking about the horrors of Graham James or the sexual assault allegations against previous Team Canada iterations either. It’s the covert and overt sexism, racism and just plain old insufferably that often surrounds Canadian hockey culture.

If you are a rising star in a culture wherein you are regarded demi-god status, is it any surprise that this god complex can lead to actions betraying a feeling of cultural impunity?

Not really. After all, who are people going to believe? The well-regarded and well-known player or coach? Or some nobody?

We know what the answer to that question has been in the past. But are we doing any better?

As much as the culture of hockey (no doubt fueled by traits like toxic masculinity, male privilege, and white privilege) disgusts me, hockey is clearly not the only sport with a questionable working culture. It is just the sport with the most publicly-facing and interactive culture.

To bring this to a close, there will be some who will read this and either choose to disregard what is apparent from an outsider’s perspective or write it off as the rantings of the new phenomenon of Wokism. Those 2 groups are not likely ever to be reached and would likely rather see Hockey (or any other sport) burn to the ground instead of becoming more inclusive.

For the rest of us that are more interested in preserving these activities for new Canadians and generations alike, consider not being silent in the face of fellow representatives of your passion painting the whole of it in a bad way.

The solution to the problem is not covering it up by way of secret payments and NDAs. The solution is fostering a community wherein such problems are far less likely to exist. A community of open trust and accountability.

Though I was unaware when I started writing this article, a collaborative investigative work between CTV, TSN and Crave (released on CTV’s W5) outlines their own expose of the horrific state of affairs within the Canadian Gymnastics scene.

As if it were not apparent enough by now . . . No. This is not just a Hockey Problem.

Don’t Just Remember. Vote.

Once again, Remembrance Day (for Canadians), or Veteran’s  Day (for Americans) is here. For Canadians, the interpretation tends to be dedicated to the recognition of the past sacrifices of soldiers lost on foreign soil. Without their sacrifice, we way may well have found ourselves living under the descendants of one Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin.

How much of a threat either of these realities coming to fruition really could be debated. Much of the social conditioning of Canadian and American society enshrines this reality as pure fact. Contrary to this, comedians such as George Carlin remind us that history books are always written by the victors. Whilst the ambiguity of reality no doubt exists somewhere between the prideful propaganda of the state and the distrustful contrarianism of the well-read comedian, collective societies of both Canada and the US have been losing any sense of understanding the values represented by November 11th for a long time.

I do hear people worried about the lack of respect in regard to Remembrance Day. I hear disdain at the notion of retail stores setting up and making available Holiday items and displays before November 12th. A few stores even play up this silliness for social positivity points, putting signage on their empty holiday displays telling customers that it is out of respect for those lost. Lest we forget as a sales tool.

Then there are the poppies. Though I am not really against the notion of wearing poppies (and agree with the goals of the poppy funds as administered around Canada, assuming all is above board), the part that annoys me is the theatrical aspect of the whole affair. Between around late October and the 11th of November, rare is a Canadian Television host of any job description to be found not wearing one. Whether they are delivering fashion tips, celebrity news, or local news, the poppy seems to become a required staple of the wardrobe. Because heaven forbid even the hint of a lack of respect by way of lack of a poppy ever pop into any viewer’s mind as they mindlessly consume the day’s details.

All of this leads up to the events that shall commence nationwide in around 8 or 9 hours from now. The memorials.

Some will see the bagpipes play and hear the rehearsed speeches live at venues all over the nation. More still will watch the national ceremony in Ottawa (or a local ceremony to them) on television or online. After this, the businesses will reopen (or return to full-service functionality) at 1:30, and life will be back to normal for the next 364 days. 

I don’t have an issue with people (television personalities or otherwise) wearing poppies. I don’t have an issue with people attending gatherings honouring those whom they feel made the ultimate sacrifice. I don’t care what harmless rituals you choose to engage in. The bothersome part for me starts when the pageantry of the entire affair BECOMES the point. 

That Remembrance Day has evolved into an elaborate display of symbolism with a dash of capitalist cynicism isn’t really surprising. Like every other supposedly sacred holiday that people decry the loss of meaning in, this interaction is a product of our time. When the whole of connected societies are slowly becoming more and more commercialized in ways never thought to be possible previously, the influence will be felt everywhere. When nothing matters because all you are is either a product or a target demographic, it’s easy to adapt to just going through the motions.

Loonie in, Poppy on. Hat off. Out the door, off to the supermarket to start holiday preparations.

While people are hyper-focused on the sacrifices of their long-lost friends and relatives for 2 weeks out of the year, the real threat to these values can be found in the OTHER 46 weeks out of the year. The times when your online feeds and local news headline stories of increasing unrest and growing fascism in the supposedly free lands of the western world. While these developments are very obvious in the context of the United States at the moment, no liberal democracy is immune from this growing scourge to all that is decent and civilized.
And as growing climatic instability and financial inequality continue to create refugees on all scales from the local to the international, these voices of unrest will only become more prominent. Bringing with them even more fascist turmoil.

People don’t often like the “Look what happened in Germany!” argument made by worried leftists in an increasingly uncertain world. Which is fine, since I’m not really talking to those people.

This is more aimed at, the people dismayed at Christmas retail starting on November 1st. The people who write letters to the editor about their neighbour’s Christmas lights on November 5th. The people who praise retailers for not putting up holiday displays before November 11th out of respect

By all means, respect. But also pay attention. 

Politics isn’t nearly as easy to digest or easy to participate in as the pageantry and symbolism of respect. However, it affects us all. And keeping an eye on the changing and increasingly extreme-leaning political landscape of our nation does far more in the service of remaining true to the sacrifices of all those lost in the fog of war than wearing a poppy for 2 weeks out of a year ever will.


Joe Biden’s Good News On Cannabis

Indeed, I am late to the presses with this one. But nonetheless, in the long and dark tunnel that is the path to drug reform, there is finally a bright spot from a somewhat unexpected source. Good ole boy Joe Biden.

Having come across the initial tweet of the thread whilst sitting in front of a campfire on the cool fall evening of the 6th of October, I was certainly surprised. I had to make sure I wasn’t reading a parody POTUS account in fact. Though this is a good measure in all situations, I admit that cynicism was the biggest driver here. As much as I truly love progression and change for the better, can be a real drag to overcome.

Nonetheless, here we are. Though this is something that arguably should have been done a long time ago (Obama? Clinton? Carter?!), it’s a good step. Considering the damage done in the area by past democrats (Biden included), I’ll take the win.

Moving on from the POTUS evolution, I happened upon an article from a staunchly anti-cannabis figurehead that seemed interesting to touch on. Having written a couple scathing pieces on Kevin Sabet (President of Smart Approaches To Marijuana), it seemed a good time to check how the opposition was reacting to the changing trade winds.

The article was written by Susan Arbetter and published by Spectrum News 1‘s central New York State-focused feed.

According to the DEA, marijuana is a schedule 1 drug like heroin, LSD, ecstasy and peyote. Schedule 1 drugs are defined as “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

The president’s tweet spurred hope among legalization advocates.

Others expressed hope for a more measured approach to rescheduling marijuana.

Capital Tonight spoke with Dr. Kevin Sabet, president and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, about the issue. Sabet served as an advisor in the National Drug Control Policy Office in the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations. 

“Scheduling is not a harm index,” Sabet explained. 

When asked why it’s on a higher schedule than either fentanyl or cocaine, Sabet explained it’s because those drugs have some accepted medical use. Marijuana, said Sabet, currently has no accepted medical use because it comes it so many different forms.–rescheduling–of-marijuana

This is the first time I’m hearing about the accepted medicinal uses of cocaine. But as it turns out, cocaine is indeed approved for medicinal use as a nasal anesthetic (if my comprehension is correct). It even has a Pharmacological name and packaging to go with it.

Of all the things I thought I would never see, this is one of them. But I had to see it for myself. Amazing the benefits one gets when allowing the research of substances to gain traction. I’m almost willing to overlook “Marijuana currently has no accepted medical use because it comes it so many different forms“, but not quite. Considering the many forms that opium has taken over the years, and how these many legally pushed derivatives have destroyed many lives over the past 3 presidential administrations this idiot (Sabet) occupied a very influential role in the administration (as far as this issue is concerned).

When it was pointed out that medical marijuana is an over $52 billion industry in the United States, Sabet said, “There are forms that have some accepted medical use, but not the raw marijuana plant.”

Sabet said he is against opening the door to legalization, but would like to see marijuana in a research schedule.–rescheduling–of-marijuana

I wonder, who was in a position that could have made that happen? Who occupied a highly influential position longer than any President Of the United States, yet still failed to bring this logic up at any time then?

It’s great to play the hindsight is 20/20 game from the safety of the sidelines, isn’t it?

“I’d put it in a schedule called 1R or 1A where we acknowledge the potential for abuse. Remember, today’s marijuana is not the marijuana of the past. It’s so much more potent than it used to be. It’s linked to psychosis, suicide, schizophrenia, all kinds of things, but we do we need to do more research,” he said.

Specifically, Sabet is interested in researching high-potency marijuana in order to learn what happens to the body when it’s absorbed.–rescheduling–of-marijuana

While I am in favour of the careful handling of cannabis as a substance (particularly its modern forms that have been altered for strength and potency by decades of underground cultivation aimed at increasingly tolerant chronic users), I won’t allow Kevin to present this picture as though this is just how the cookie crumbles.

The reason why marijuana is this strong is prohibition. The reason why more and more medical abnormalities are starting to show up in people (particularly in woefully unprepared youngsters) IS because of the financial incentives of the underground peddlers. Their money isn’t made from recreational users, it’s made from heavy (increasingly tolerant) users. While strictly regulated legal markets have ended up largely reversing this status quo, you wouldn’t have the wild west of the cannabis industry without the prohibitionist delusion of “a drug-free world” enabling these forces. The same goes whenever I hear about yet another instance of the horrors of synthetic marijuana showing up somewhere in the world . . . people wouldn’t be so easily tempted to get easily obtainable fakes if the real thing were available.

I agree that more research on all aspects of marijuana should in fact be researched. But I take issue with prohibitionists taking the “We NEED to have more research so we can understand the harm caused by potent marijuana!” only now when this research should have been in progress decades ago. Instead of being stuck in limbo due to the idiotic racially driven drug policy of many decades past.

“What I wouldn’t do is commercialize it, legalize it on the federal level and open this up to institutional investors and big tobacco,” he said. “That’s my worry.”–rescheduling–of-marijuana

While that aspect has been indeed been one of the disappointing realities of legalization in Canada (corporations dominating the industry, most of them having shitty leadership (if indeed reviews are to be believed), a big reason for this consolidation is the high price to jump in the cannabis licit market. You need a minimum of millions in upfront capital to start growing along, let alone the headache of running shops (or of getting into the edibles and drinkables space).

Maybe this will change with time as people slowly lose old biases they have always had towards the substance (or as old generations are replaced by more factually driven up-and-comers). But either way, I would love to see smaller (and more niche-focused businesses) be allowed the lee-way to thrive in the newly emerging cannabis marketplace. Though a majority will almost always be happy with mass-produced fare like Budweiser, there ought to be a place for little players like Farmery (Manitoba) and others like it.

The more options you bring to the licit market, the fewer reasons people have to turn (or operate in) the illicit market.

When asked about New York’s new recreational marijuana law in which applicants who have been convicted of marijuana-related offenses are at the front of the line for retail licenses, Sabet said he was skeptical. 

“Listen, I don’t think it should be white guys from Wall Street. I don’t think it should be big tobacco. But I’m very skeptical of what New York is doing for a couple of reasons,” he said. “For one, I’m worried about saying if you were a felon in the past, come over you’re front in line to sell what’s a federally-illegal drug. There is so much potential for mixing with the illegal market and foreign cartels that are taking over the illegal market.”

Secondly, Sabet claims there has been very little enforcement on illegal operators.

“I’m in Manhattan. I see it. I smell it. You all do. It’s not like we’re cracking down on them either,” he said.–rescheduling–of-marijuana

There is a fairly simple way in which one can ensure that these felons are not subsidizing their legal businesses with tax-free illicit offshoots. You can ensure that the inside of these facilities (from greenhouse to retailer) are covered by security cameras, with plants tracked from seed to sale. As is the case in other states, and I suspect here in Canada. While I am unsure of this, these mysterious non-UPC barcodes scream tracking (much like many products one would find in the Amazon walk-in store).

Also worth noting is Sabet’s specific mention of not wanting “white guys from wall street” running the industry, nor “felons” because of the risk of recidivistic behaviour. While it is entirely possible that there is nothing to see here, given the racist roots of the war on drugs itself, the statement is AT BEST, very disturbing. Considering the demographic makeup of the majority of this said group, I think the statement is AT THE LEAST, a demonstration of the ignorance of Kevin Sabet. So worried about stamping out the marijuana menace he is, he doesn’t see the menace that he himself has made himself a part of.

As for foreign cartels taking over the illegal market, they will only have a business if the retail side of the coin isn’t covering a given niche. As far as cannabis is concerned, legalization is actually making cannabis a less desirable substance in many areas. The problem with this is it is being replaced with things like amphetamines and fentanyl.

This brings us to the next issue. Getting cannabis out of the way should be the first step, the final one being either legalization or decriminalization of all other substances. Though that is indeed a HUGE leap, it is what is likely required to get substance abuse back under some form of control. Decades of throwing money at prohibition has been a massive failure. It’s time to shift that funding into healthcare and wellness instead.

The situation will not change overnight, and may well take years to even begin to reverse the damage of the Nixon Administration. But we have to start sometime, and in my opinion, that time is now.