Tag Archives: canada

Some Gin Bottles in Canada Had Double the Labeled Amount of Alcohol

Congratulations to all the Canadians who have done dumb shit while bombed on Bombay Sapphire in the past couple of months, you've just earned yourself a hell of an excuse.

You can now explain some of it away because, as it turns out, some bottles of Bombay Sapphire were a lot fucking stronger than advertised. So, if you punched your fist through that Corvette window, slept with that person at the bar you really shouldn't have slept with, or stole your neighbor's cat, well, it's now on the gin.

We know this because an investigation by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario quality assurance team found out that some of the gin was a little more ginny than it should have been.

"This recall was initiated after an investigation by LCBO Quality Assurance revealed a deviation in the stated 40 percent alcohol content by volume," reads a news release by the board. "The affected lot... has alcohol content by volume of 77 percent."

Hell yeah, that's so much more bang for your buck.

Not everyone followed that particular line of logic though—Saskatchewan, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland have all followed Ontario's lead in pulling the liquor from the shelves. Turns out having more alcohol in your drink than you advertised is, understandably, a major no-no.

Furthermore, this isn't the first time that extra-boozy booze has wound up on the shelves in Ontario. A few moths ago, the province recalled Georgian Bay Vodka because, again, it would fuck you up more than it was supposed to (the vodka, sold at 40 percent, had some bottles with up to 80 percent.)

Next time, just drink a whiskey—you can always blame it on whiskey.

Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.

How I Got Justice After My Rape Case Failed in Court

This post originally appeared on VICE Canada.

Sexual assault is a difficult crime to prosecute in criminal court. Survivors who seek justice are often left disappointed after going through what is typically a retraumatizing process. I was no exception—in my case, the Crown prosecutor withdrew the charge against the accused on the condition that he complete counseling on STIs.

It started in the back of a car with someone I had just met. One Friday night in February, we were fucking for the first time—consensually. I've always thought of myself as a responsible person, so given that we had only known each other for three weeks and were basically strangers, I made sure he wore a condom because I was scared of pregnancy and STIs. When he couldn't stay hard, he removed it.

He asked me to blow him, so I asked for another condom—he didn't understand why. He picked me up and put me on my back. I said no. He got on top of me, and I felt him slip the tip in. My gut told me I needed to remember that I said no, so I enunciated it each of the three times I said it again. No. No. No. He laughed at how scared I was. If he wanted to do it, he would've done it already. I told him I was on the pill, but I'd fucking kill him if he finished in me.

Then he raped me.

I remember my mind being completely silent when I got home. I went to the bathroom, took a scalding shower, and went to bed. I spent the weekend taking as many yoga classes as I could handle, but I couldn't erase the feeling in my stomach; something horrible and fucked up had just happened. The following Monday, I woke up and called in sick to work. Then I called my doctor.

"Hi," I whispered. "I've just been sexually assaulted, and I need to be tested for STIs."

As the initial shock gave way to panic, Google was my best friend. I was desperate to know what my other options were. One of the first results for "Sexual Assault Canada" back then was the website for the Ontario Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB), a provincial, adjudicative tribunal that hears applications for financial compensation from victims of violent crimes. It's one of eight provincial tribunals that serve to provide balanced resolutions to civil disputes.

Victims can apply for compensation for pain and suffering, loss of income, and other related expenses to the crime. It awards as much as $25,000 for single applicants, and, in cases where there are multiple victims, the maximum lump sum is $150,000 between each applicant.

I didn't really know what to expect—I couldn't find a whole lot of personal testimony about the CICB on the internet. The website made it seem easy enough: Fill out this form, wait for them to screen in the file, expect to have a hearing, and then maybe, just maybe, it'd award me compensation for the suffering I'd been through.

Having filed a statement with the police that resulted in a charge being laid against my abuser, I had access to a case worker from the ministry of the attorney general's victim/witness assistance program. She helped me complete and submit the 15-page application a few months after the assault. Once my application was found to meet the eligibility criteria, the CICB had me collect reports from my hospital, my counselors, and my employer to support my claims.

CICB asks for details about the crime, the alleged offender/offenders' information, including their address and relationship to the victim, whether or not it was reported to the police, the status of the criminal case if there was one, and details about the victim's injuries. As per CICB rules, the alleged offender/offenders are entitled to participate in the process, should they so choose—usually, they participate remotely and are not in the same room as the applicant.

Since he was a first-time offender, and let's be real, because he was white (the Crown told me that he "didn't look like the type of person who walks into courthouses all the time"), there was a low prospect of him being convicted. When the Crown told me he took an STI course so the charge was withdrawn, I felt my world close in on me as I started to sob in my case worker's office. I wasn't surprised, of course, but the weight of the disappointment and knowing that he would never be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law was almost too much to bear.

CICB waited until the criminal court aspect of my case wrapped up before they scheduled my application for a hearing. I was told that the "alleged offender" would be notified and given a copy of my file with my personal details redacted. The detective who investigated my case, and laid the charge, would be called in as a witness as well.

Although I was aware that the "alleged offender" would have the option to participate, CICB forgot to confirm that he agreed to testify despite its mandate to do so. As such, I went into that hearing unprepared, self-represented, and alone.

I learned after the fact that sexual assault crisis centers sometimes have volunteers who can accompany applicants to their hearings. Applicants can also choose to bring a friend or family member for emotional support, or if they have access to one, can hire a lawyer.

At the start of the hearing, the adjudicating members of CICB outlined how they would make their decision. In contrast to the high burden of proof in criminal court where evidence must prove a fact beyond a reasonable doubt, most civil courts like the CICB apply a lower standard called the balance of probabilities. For me, this meant that I had to "tip the scale" in my favor, and that my evidence had to prove that there was at least a 51 percent probability that I was a victim of a crime.

Although they had already read the police report and my statement, CICB members asked me to describe my sexual assault in as much detail as possible and to provide them with context around the relationship I had with the "alleged offender." I answered questions like: Did we communicate often? Did I try to push him off? How many times did we make out in his car? And what position were we engaged in when he raped me without a condom?

Testifying was excruciating. As many sexual assault survivors who have had to go through legal proceedings can attest, the process is retraumatizing. It's dehumanizing to have invasively personal questions thrown at you so that a third party can judge the validity of your experience. Recounting the details of the worst night of my life was extremely difficult, especially knowing that the man who perpetrated my trauma was listening to my every word.

Hearings at the CICB are not recorded electronically, but the board members take hand-typed notes during testimony—and the members I had were not very fast typers. I would often be interrupted and asked to slow down or repeat myself so that they could transcribe exactly what I had said. The "alleged offender" and his counsel were both given the opportunity to question me—for example: When did I know I had been raped? Why didn't I just go home? Was I on drugs?

After CICB was satisfied with my testimony, the "alleged offender" swore on the Bible to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. His testimony was wildly different than mine, going so far as to accuse me of giving him chlamydia. Words cannot describe how infuriating and insulting it is to hear your abuser use rape tropes to blatantly lie about what happened when you are 100 percent certain about what you witnessed. I knew the board had already seen my hospital records and blood work that came back healthy, and most likely knew he was making it up, but I still felt sick that someone could lack the integrity to the point of fabrication.

In the last portion of the hearing, the detective on my case testified. CICB questioned her on how consistent my testimony was with my original statement—"straight on," she said. My credibility was not the reason the charge was withdrawn, she noted. She laid the charge because she believed that it happened, and she still believed that it happened. I could have cried.

The police witness was dismissed, and CICB muted the teleconference so that they could hear about my physical and emotional injuries in private. While I had felt numb throughout the hearing, I cried while talking about the trauma out loud to a couple of strangers with what felt like my life in their hands. Articulating the extent of my emotional injuries was difficult—vocalizing it made it real.

I sat outside in the lobby while CICB deliberated on the case. After about 15 minutes, I was called back into the room to hear the members' decision, and the "alleged offender" rejoined remotely. They ruled that they believed me, and in one of the most gratifying moments of my life, found me to have been a victim of a sexual assault perpetrated by the "alleged offender." It took about two months to receive the written decision and check in the mail.

Was it worth it? No and yes. On one hand, the emotional torture of having to testify was not worth the small sum of money I got and could never undo what had been already been done to me. On the other, hearing the "alleged offender" blatantly commit a lie to public record and have him hear from a legal authority that, yes, he indeed victimized me were two of my favorite moments of 2016. For someone who had just been denied justice through criminal court, it was satisfying to have a legal body rule in my favor.

Ultimately, I think that the Ontario Criminal Injuries Compensation Board can be a benefit to survivors of violent crimes. But it's up to survivors to make their own decision. There is a long, arduous, and bureaucratic process involved in getting that compensation, and it's retraumatizing. I wouldn't recommend it unless you have a strong support network. If you have the resources to go through with it, it can be a source of validation and justice for a crime that is so rarely recognized for how awful it is.

Follow Roslyn Talusan on Twitter.

VICE Talks Weed with Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was at VICE Canada's Toronto office to discuss the government's weed legalization bill at an exclusive live event on April 24th, 2017. Trudeau and MP Bill Blair, who has been the Liberals' pointman on this file, were questioned about the new legislation at the live event, hosted by Manisha Krishnan. They also took questions from guests who will be directly impacted by the new laws and through those conversations, touched on harm reduction, the possibility of pardons, how dispensaries will fit into a new system focussed largely on big licensed producers, and how the government plans to keep the products from licensed producers safe.

How VHS Tapes and Bootleg Translations Started an Anime Fan War in the 90s

In the nineties, before broadband modems became widely available—and before anime streaming services like Funimation and Crunchyroll—staying up-to-date on anime was an arduous process. North American fans who wanted more than televised runs of Sailor Moon had to buy expensive subtitled VHS tapes from fan groups, who translated anime tapes themselves and then redistributed them after importing them, untranslated, from contacts in Japan.

Buying anime this way meant sending money to people without distribution licenses, who were technically engaging in international copyright violation, and trusting them to send your tape in the mail. The Wild West mentality of the fansub industry led to members of the Ottawa-based Anime Appreciation Society (AAS) taking matters into their own hands after one of their favourite fansub groups, Tomodachi, refused to release its version of the final 20 episodes of the much-loved show Fushigi Y ûgi—all because of its war with another fansub.

This bizarre episode, which the tight-knit Ottawa community still remembers, led to the AAS hosting one of the city's first anime conventions, and created a very active community which is consistently represented today in the region's pop culture industry.

"The process of fansubbing was so difficult back then," said Mark Legault, a web developer for a Toronto cybersecurity company, and founding member of the AAS. Fansub groups would need a device called a genlock, he explained, which would synchronize two different video signals, allowing the user to add subtitles, before recording it and sending it off to the clubs—a huge time investment.

The Fushigi Yûgi opening. Video: Alyssa marie Ranoco/YouTube

Binge-watching a show was pretty much impossible.

"You were spending twenty bucks for an illegally copied tape with only four episodes," he continued. "A lot of the time, these subtitles were not great. People took a lot of liberties."

In 1996, the AAS—which would host 20-30 person meetups in a community centre in suburban Ottawa—began watching Fushigi Y û gi, which ran from 1995 to 1996 in Japan. (For those who aren't familiar, the plot centres around two middle school students who find themselves transported to another world by a magical book when one of them finds out she's destined to gather seven celestial warriors.)

Read the full story at Motherboard.

Photos From Vancouver’s Massive 4/20 Party

Vancouver's 4/20 event is arguably the biggest and longest-running weed celebration in the world (San Francisco comes close, but we can all be chill, right?) and yesterday's was a special one considering it could be the last smokeout where weed was illegal.

Cops estimate about 35,000 showed up on Vancouver's Sunset Beach, and we've got the pictures to prove it.

Watch Alison Brie and Aubrey Plaza Play Raunchy, Rude Nuns in ‘The Little Hours’

The Little Hours
Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza and Kate Micucci star as the raunchy, sinning nuns in this Jeff Baena comedy based on The Decameron. They swear, they fuck, they're ruthless to the locals and when a labourer seeking refuge (played by Dave Franco) holes up at the convent, they add a new layer of horniness and substance abuse to the mix. The Little Hours had its debut at Sundance to critical praise and has already been derided as "pure trash" by the Catholic League. Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon, Fred Armisen and John C. Reilly round out the cast.

Honestly, who hasn't dreamed of disappearing from the inanity of day-to-day life? The 9 to 5, the endless commute, the drudgery of modern life, propelling you ever further into your own grim mortality. Managing the Sisyphean task of capitalist survival even as each monetizable hour heralds your physical body's ultimate and humiliating demise. Or I don't know, maybe you're chill with it all, that's fine too. In Wakefield, Bryan Cranston takes the suburban worker's fantasy to its limit by abandoning his job, his wife and his children to live outside of himself as a drifter. Each day he thinks of returning and doesn't pulls him further from his old reality and deeper into something perhaps more unhinged but potentially more free. I feel you Bryan. Jennifer Garner plays his grieving wife and Robin Swicord directs.

The Keepers
Riding the success of Making a Murderer, Netflix is hoping for similar raves for its new true crime series, The Keepers. Based on the disappearance 50 years ago of Sister Cathy Cesnik, the show looks into a cold case that has both mesmerized and terrorized those who knew Cathy best. It's a story about murder, abuse and a possible cover-up involving the Catholic church, local politicians and the police tasked with finding justice for Cathy.

It was supposed to be an easy task, meet a driver, get a package, drop the package off to a waiting woman on the subway, make $1500. But when Danny (played by Green Room's Callum Turner) fucks up the drop, he ends up on two-day haul through New York City to make things right. Director Adam Leon's fast-paced sophomore feature film is a classic summer heist film with young lovers in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mike Birbiglia and Grace Van Patten co-star which premieres on Netflix today.

Follow Amil on Twitter

The VICE Morning Bulletin

US News

Prosecutors Said to Be Preparing Charges for Assange Arrest
US prosecutors are apparently mulling a series of charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who remains inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Anonymous officials indicated the Justice Department, after hesitating over free speech concerns under Barack Obama, has decided to seek Assange's arrest. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said arresting Assange was "a priority" and vowed that "whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail."—CNN

Arkansas Carries Out First Execution Since 2005
Arkansas conducted its first execution since 2005 Thursday night. Ledell Lee, 51, was pronounced dead of lethal injection shortly before midnight after the Supreme Court rejected last-minute legal pleas. The state has been criticized for attempting to carry out a series of executions before a legal injection drug expires April 30.—CBS News

Off-Duty Cop Carries Gun and Bullets on Flight
An off-duty police officer was able to carry a gun in her carry-on luggage aboard a flight from Los Angeles to Taiwan. A spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration said those responsible for allowing Santa Monica PD officer Noell Grant to pass through LAX security with a gun and six bullets would be held "appropriately accountable."—BBC News

US Aid Worker Returns Home After Release by Egypt
US citizen Aya Hijazi flew home on a government jet after the Trump administration helped secure her release from prison in Egypt. The Egyptian American aid worker had been held for three years on child abuse and human-trafficking charges but won a legal reprieve this past weekend. Lawyers for Hijazi said they were "deeply grateful to President Trump for his personal engagement."—The New York Times

International News

One Policeman Killed, Two Others Wounded in Paris Attack
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a terror attack after one officer was shot dead and two others were seriously injured by a gunman on the Champs-Élysées in Paris Thursday evening. Security forces fatally shot the gunman. He has been identified as a 39-year-old French national and was reportedly known to security officials as a potential extremist.—VICE News

Police Arrest Suspect in Borussia Dortmund Bus Attack
Police have arrested a German Russian national suspected of planning last week's bomb attack on Borussia Dortmund's team bus in Germany. The federal prosecutor's office said the 28-year-old, named as Sergej W, had been charged with attempted murder, suspected of trying to profit from a fall in shares in the soccer club. He allegedly bought $83,600 worth of shares to short sell.—BBC News

Ahmadinejad Barred from Iranian Election
The former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been barred from running in next month's presidential election by the Guardian Council, the state's vetting body. President Hassan Rouhani has been approved, as has Ebrahim Raisi, the staunch conservative cleric who is expected to be Rouhani's main opponent.—The Guardian

Venezuelan Protesters Vow to Stay on the Streets
Venezuela's opposition leaders promised to continue to demand President Nicolás Maduro holds elections, announcing a handful of new protests in the coming days. Activists are hyping protests on Friday, a silent march in Caracas Saturday, and a blockade on national highways Monday.—Reuters

Everything Else

Berkeley to Allow Ann Coulter Speech
The University of California, Berkeley has reversed its decision to cancel Ann Coulter's lecture at the school and will allow the controversial conservative to give a speech on immigration after all. The university said it would take place at an "appropriate, protectable venue" on May 2.—Los Angeles Times

'The X-Files' to Shoot Ten More Episodes
FOX has announced that The X-Files reboot is returning for another season. Executive producer Chris Carter and stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have reportedly all agreed to do ten episodes for the 2017-2018 cycle.—The Hollywood Reporter

Lil Yachty Reveals Debut Album Details
Lil Yachty will release his debut album Teenage Emotions on May 26. The Atlanta rapper said the 21-song album—featuring Migos, Kamaiyah, and YG—captures "all aspects of teenagers and what they go through."—Noisey

Canadian Regulator Upholds Net Neutrality
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ruled in favor of net neutrality Thursday, stressing that all web services should be treated equally by providers. The ruling means internet providers aren't allowed to privilege some services over others by differential pricing.—Motherboard

Indiana University Bans Athletes with Legal Convictions o Sexual Abuse
Indiana University Bloomington has banned student athletes with a history of convictions for sexual or domestic violence from taking part in its sports programs. The ban covers prospective freshmen and transfer applicants as well as current students.—VICE

Online Racism Makes IRL Dating Hell for Gay Asian Men

"I'm not racist. I just have preferences." On dating and hook-up apps for gay men, this seems to be a common justification from guys who state phrases like "No Asians" in their bios or while chatting. Now I totally get that these apps are primarily for sex and people have preferences, and blah, blah, blah, but really: How these things are said with such casualness shows the insidious powers of language.

Being so upfront and flip in denying conversation with an entire race is, let's face it, pretty racist. And this isn't just Grindr; online dating sites offer pretty much the same dynamic toward gay Asian men. It's gross how someone could be so upfront about a dislike for a race: "Sorry. You're cute, but no Asians for me." (Sorry, but apologetic openings don't redeem you as a good human being.) Short and to the point with why I wasn't wanted, I started feeling like the majority of guys didn't have any interest in me because I am Asian. Eventually, I became fed up and got off apps, and I continue to put little effort in online dating.

I recall the first few months being app-less, going out more with friends and not looking to hook up, or even find Prince Charming to sweep me off my feet—just interacting with the gay community IRL to see what would or could happen. But even offline here in "progressive" Vancouver, the attitude toward gay Asian men is disappointingly reflective or a result of treatment received online.

The one that still stands out for me to this day was when I met a guy through a friend, who I eventually asked out for coffee. It seemed to go well, and before I knew it, we had spent a couple of hours talking at the cafe. When we were leaving, he said to me that he wasn't looking for anything more than being friends—that he was a "no rice, no spice kinda guy" when it came to intimate relationships. A phrase that is typically used online was said to me in person with such casual bravado, and I was basically left speechless (until after the fact, when I thought of many worthwhile responses.)

This is a very blunt example of how online discrimination can be felt in real life, because as I spoke to other gay Asian men in Vancouver for this story, they all mentioned that even though racism toward Asians is so upfront online, they've felt it in real life on a more subtle, but just as hurtful, level.

For this reason, Alex, a 28-year-old writer and first generation Chinese Canadian, said it makes discrimination more difficult to process and confront. "People are much less willing to voice their 'preferences' for race in person. If anything it's more subtle, more ambiguous," he told me. "I'll be walking down the street, and people will look through me as if I'm not there. No one will check me out. But I'll notice, for example, white guys checking out other white guys."

The ways Asians are treated online directly correlate with Alex's reasons for feeling less desired. He questions his own physical attractiveness in the eyes of white men and wonders if his Asian heritage is what keeps him from catching the eye of other men. "But after being told time and time again online that I'm unattractive due to my ethnicity, I can't help but believe that that's the reason. All the time. Either way, feeling invisible is the norm for me," he said. Because of this, Alex dissociates himself from gay communities, keeping to himself and not going out much.

The other result is feeling too visible for being Asian, or being exoticized or objectified for your race. On dating apps as a gay Asian man, receiving messages akin to, "Looking for azns only, Asians+++," or the most memorable one I've received, "Let me serve your Oriental noodle," are just as much a norm as it is being turned down for being Asian.

Because of this, I was weary with talking to guys in real life, worrying that they didn't care who I was as a person but instead only about how Asian I am. And I found this apprehension to be shared among others. "The digital world really lays the groundwork for what is possible, and people are not afraid to speak out, and from that, we get a sense of self-doubt," Kevin, a 23-year-old art director of Southeast Asian descent, told me. For example, if a guy comes on to Kevin, he admits to also questioning whether it's because he is Asian or if the guy is interested in him as a person, regardless of race: "You question how much he values you, what facets of you he values, and what you're worth is based on."

It's tricky trying to understand your worth as a gay Asian man, or any person of color, when the gay community can be so dominantly focused on the oh-so-desirable Adonis-bodied white man. The way gay Asian men can be spoken to (or ignored) online causes some second-guessing in interactions with (white) men, especially when it comes to being more than friends.

It works the other way as well, where being associated with a gay Asian is seemingly taboo.
I spoke to Daniel, a 30-year-old second-generation Chinese Canadian who works in social justice, who shared his experience of the early stages of dating a man. "When I first started dating my ex (who was white), he asked me, 'What do you think people think of me now that I'm dating an Asian? What do you think people are saying?'"

Daniel adds that there were many occasions where someone he was dating said that he wasn't looking for anything serious, so he would casually date, but then it would be called off, only with the other guy immediately being in a serious relationship with a white guy.

There's no doubt that experiencing online racism affects esteem when apps and websites are out of the picture. All of this is quite intangible, and "it's hard to quantify racist experiences that you encounter in intimate relationships, and from the queer community sometimes. It's just how we feel or are made to feel, really," added Daniel.

The only real obvious proof that can be seen are the toxic messages online ("No Asians," "I'm a no rice, no spice kinda guy," etc.) and how gay Asian men feel discriminated against, exoticized, or ostracized in real life. It goes to show the power of language—how communicating online in brief and toxic exchanges can be detrimental to one's daily life on the street, interacting with people, and so forth.

"The gay community is much like high school, in that it consists of various cliques that seldom interact with one another—in this case, it'd be white and whitewashed gays being the popular, in-crowd, while I'm hanging out with the other Asians," argued Alex. "On a larger scale, I think sexual racism is one of the reasons why the gay community is so fragmented and segregated today."

For all the hilarious and witty ways LGBTQ individuals use language to spread joy and humor to relate to one another, I was—and slightly still am—disappointed with how some gay men can string together certain words without giving a second thought to how they impact others.

Follow David Ly on Twitter.

Growing Weed Is Pretty Bad for the Environment

Almost everything good is extremely bad for the environment.

Binging Netflix. Using disposable chopsticks with your takeout. Washing your clothes after slobbering noodles all over yourself while binging Netflix.

Oh, and smoking the joint that started the whole damn mess.

Of course, we've known about the environmental impacts of marijuana cultivation for a long while. But now that Canada's Liberal government has finally decided to fulfill one major election promise and legalize weed by July 2018, it will also have to start seriously grappling with how to minimize the associated environmental impacts.

"Letting regulators and the public see this as an agricultural crop is really key," said Jake Brenner, associate professor of environmental studies at New York's Ithaca College and researcher of environmental impacts of cannabis agriculture.

"We treat it like a medicine," he said. "We treat it like a drug, but we don't treat it like what it is—which is a regular old agricultural crop with a fleet of environmental implications."

For one, weed plants are thirsty. A 2016 working document prepared for the Oregon State Legislature reported that a single mature weed plant can consume almost 23 liters of water per day, compared to 13 liters for a wine grape plant. That fact matters especially in dry regions and seasons, which we'll likely see extended in the coming decades from climate change.

On the plus side, regulating currently illegal operations could help ensure that streams and fish aren't damaged by excessive withdrawals for irrigation, a major problem in California.

But the problems go way beyond water.

Let's start with artificial indoor operations, which are ideal for growing year round in many parts of Canada due to the country's frigid winters. The indoor cultivation of weed requires an enormous amount of electricity.

It makes sense when you think about everything that's required: many high-intensity bulbs, ventilation, dehumidifiers, and air-conditioners. In fact, a 2012 journal article found that 3 percent of California's electricity usage goes to powering indoor weed cultivation.

Scale that up to the US context, and it makes up a full 1 percent of the country's total power consumption, equivalent to about 17 million tons of carbon dioxide per year or the output of seven sizable power plants.

"One misperception that folks have is that growing cannabis indoors means they get off without a hitch in regards to the environment," Jennifer Carah, senior freshwater ecologist at the Nature Conservancy in California, said. "That's not really the case."

Of course, each Canadian province will have a different joint-to-pollution ratio, depending on the respective "energy mix."

Provinces like Manitoba, Quebec, and Newfoundland are almost entirely powered by hydroelectric dams, meaning they could dodge the problem of increased emissions from weed cultivation and perhaps present a lucrative opportunity for investors once the nationally mandated carbon price kicks in.

Other provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia will be using fossil fuels for the foreseeable future; while the transition from coal to natural gas is a positive one from a climate perspective, it still has serious emissions implications (especially if you are remotely skeptical of the exceedingly low methane leakage rates that some provinces assume.)

On the bright side, legalizing marijuana will mean that weed growers who were previously attempting to stay hidden by using off-grid electricity from diesel or propane will be able to connect to the relatively cleaner grid and reduce emissions.

In addition, greenhouses—which would only need artificial heating during cold nights—become a more viable option, as growers don't need to physically conceal their goods.

But say we're talking about one of the unusually warm parts of Canada, such as southwestern Ontario or the southern Gulf Islands in British Columbia. In such places, it's more feasible to grow outdoors for a longer portion of the year. That means that growers don't have to use electricity for bulbs—instead relying on the sun—and effectively eliminates the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.

Unfortunately, cultivating outdoors comes with another set of problems.

Like with any agricultural crop, an expansion in demand can often lead to increased clearcutting of forests and construction of roads. That in turn can dramatically increase erosion, habitat destruction, river diversion, and forest fragmentation.

"It can pollute the lands and waters in the areas where it's cultivated, as well as poison wildlife through the use of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and petroleum fuels," Carah said.

Chemicals are often used to kill woodrats and other small rodents that can damage the crop. Unfortunately, these rodenticides can make their way into the food chain and pose significant risks to predators. Carah said that in California's public lands they put the rare Pacific fisher and northern spotted owl in serious danger.

Legalizing and regulating could help mitigate such issues. But weed producers are often opposed to having pesticide use restricted due to severely lower yields. In October 2016, the Denver Post reported that Colorado's lobbying by the marijuana industry significantly weakened state pesticide regulations, with the former agriculture commissioner calling it the "biggest obstacle we had."

It's a good example of Brenner's argument that regulating weed isn't a silver bullet to minimizing environmental destruction: "Regulating this like an agricultural crop is a step in the right direction," he said. "I don't know that it's any guarantee that the environmental impacts will disappear."

Luckily, other jurisdictions have been trying to figure this out for a while, meaning that Canada can benefit from what they learn. For instance, Boulder, Colorado, requires growers to directly offset 100 percent of electricity and other fuels used in production by using renewable energy or paying into an Energy Impact Offset Fund. Utility companies in Oregon have offered cash incentives to reduce energy use.

Carah said that upcoming regulations for both medical and recreational marijuana in California will include conditions of licensure, which will require compliance with water-quality laws. In addition, the state's legalization initiative dedicates 20 percent of tax revenue to preventing environmental impacts and cleaning up environmental impacts of the past.

Over time, there will also be the possibility of Canadian growers tapping into government-led energy-efficiency programs and investing in energy-saving technologies such as LED grow lights, as well as plenty of research and development to reduce costs. That could also include proper enforcement of building codes and product labeling. The 2012 journal article estimated that energy usage could be cut by at least 75 percent by applying "cost-effective, commercially available efficiency improvements."

There's also the potential for rural economic development that will replace jobs lost in the national phase out of coal-fired power.

"However we can figure out how to bring this under the guise of an environmentally regulatory framework has got to be a good thing because there's a lot of potential there," Brenner said.

But let's be real.

Smoking marijuana has some environmental downsides. But there are many other far more serious personal behaviors from an environment and climate point of view, such as driving large internal-combustion vehicles like trucks and SUVs, or air travel, or consuming large quantities of factory-farmed meat.

Legalizing weed won't be an easy process. But chances are that if done right, it can help mitigate some of the worst byproducts of growing the stuff illegally, especially if politicians are willing to acknowledge that marijuana is here to stay.

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