Unlike my younger brother and sister, I did not encounter drugs
in my high school days in Richmond, British Columbia - a then leafy suburb of Vancouver.
It was during my first year of University
of British Columbia, that I saw marijuana cigarettes beingpassed around a large circle of fellow students. We were downtown
somewhere in a large darkened room, like a studio with no art equipment, and the soft drone of Leonard Cohen's first album
played in the background.
I was surprised more than shocked, and pretended to puff as the cigarette
made its rounds betwen a couple of dozen eighteen years olds.
Hashish and also mescaline were also
popular that yeat with my freshmen friends. The mescaline came in tablets on sheets, as did LSD. All of this was called Soft
Drugs, compared with heroin, which was definitely a Hard Drug.
I had been raised to associate Heroin
with a totally low class and dangerou way of life, foreign to most Canadians, escept those who wanted to commit a long slow
suicide. The line that my fellow students created between Soft and Hard Drugs was to later blur at times.
asthma protected me from taking much of a personal interest in either marijuana or its stronger relative, hashish.
British Columbia was one of the strongest areas in the world for Marijuana Culture, an oxymoron as far as I was concerned.
Marijuana Culture just meant a mild climate for growing marijuana, and a huge percentage of young people who tried it in their
Once, marijuana had been legal, as no one knew that it was desirable as an opiate: growing wild in nature, like coffee,
tea, or cocoa plants. By corralling it off, and making it seem dangerous, there were large economic profits to be obtained.
could see through all this, and it did not really interest me too much. I preferred coffee in the morning, throughout
the day, and sometimes red wine during during the evening. Still, I had not shortage of close friends who frequented the culture
We heard stories of what happened when other young people were busted by the police for marijuana, and these stories
spread like wildfire. One notorious story involved a Narcotics Agent called Stedanko, and the accidental pushing of a pregnant
hippie girl down a flight of steps, causing her to lose the baby.
Another high school friend of mine
miscarried her baby, a few weeks after the RCMP invaded her Richmond blueberry farm, looking for a cache of marijuana.
The drugs were buried in large metal boxes a few hundred yards out into the blueberry plants lining the backyard.
my best friend, Barbara, who like myself, did not realy use drugs, suffered the greatest injury. Her boyfriend John
was a former heroin addict, and on strictu methadone treatment therapy, when she met and fell in love with him.
lived in a handsome and spacious two bedroom apartment around 12th and Granville Street, when I was still attending classes
at University of British Columbia. I liked visiting Barbara there, as we lunch frequently at a restaurant that served
Eastern European food like pyrogis with sour cream and cheese blintzes dotted with blobs of jam.
One night Barbara heard noises in
the hallway, waiting for John to come home. She went into the darkened hallway, thinking it was her boyfriend, only
to be struck to repeatedly with ah sharp blade from behind. She managed to crawl towards a land phone, and was soon
in intensive care in the Vancouver General Hospital.
I was in England at the time, visiting relatives, and could not believe
this had happened to my best friend. She almost died.
We were just two young, pretty, middle class girls, who took an interest
in conventional pursuits: fashion, music, boyfriends.
Yet the safer geography that we had been born into in Canada slowly
transmuted over the decades into something more dangerous.