When the 80’s arrived, so did NORML Canada. I remember feeling a sense of accomplishment when I heard we got enough signatures and they had launched in Canada.
The 80’s also brought more insights for me about who I was and where I came from. I was able to meet my birth father, Lyle, for the first time. I was 18 and moved to West Virginia in 1981.
By then I was consuming cannabis daily, all day long. I was a bong girl, never really cared too much for joints, they always made me cough. Still very rebellious and struggling with issues of abandonment, I never gave much thought from one moment to the next about what I was doing or if it was safe. I was partying, carefree as far as the world knew, not so much on the inside.
Now I was headed to the States, thinking it would be the same as Toronto! I mean, isn’t everywhere? I mean, that’s where NORML is based, so it can’t be that different right?
Rippon West Virginia. Where the gas station is the post office and the corner store that has a pinball machine in it kinda town! Lol
My birth father is native Indian, married and has two young kids. He owns a few racehorses and has stables at the Charles Town racetrack. He also has a stud horse on a farm in the area. Ya, he’s a track guy.
When we arrived at his home, I met my 2 sisters and his wife, and I looked around at what would be my new digs. My now trained eye goes straight to the kitchen table. I spot a pile of ground pot in the center of the table and 2 corn cob pipes beside a couple of coffee cups! I immediately smiled. Well Then! Maybe it’s in the gene’s I thought!
The next day I was taken out back to the garden. Lyle showed me where his Six-foot-tall plants were in the far corner of the lot among some trees. They fit right in, in height and stature.
By then Lyle had explained to me that no, it was not like Toronto there. Cannabis was strictly forbidden. You could not even buy rolling papers in the State and those plants could get him a 10-year sentence!
Yes West Virginia was vastly different. Did I mention they also had segregation as well?
During the time I was there Lyle taught me about growing cannabis and I learned a lot about the plant from him. It seemed to be the one thing we could connect on, without feeling awkward. He also taught me to make my own corn cob pipe and decorate it with some shells we picked up at the beach. With no rolling papers or headshops in the state, you made your own pipes! When they clogged, you tossed it and made another.
I stayed in WVa for about a year before I had to make a quick exit back to Canada and home to Toronto. And oh, what a year that was! In the end things did not work out so well getting to know Lyle, but that’s a story for another blog…
When I got back home to Toronto one of the first things I did was head up to College Street to the used books stores. I found a book on growing, called The Marijuana Grower’s Handbook, written by Ed Rosenthal. The book was well used both prior to my purchase as well as after!
I got my start growing with what I learned from Lyle, and Ed guided me after that for over 2 decades. I have had plants ever since.
In 1985 I was 22 and pregnant with my first child. Still consuming daily when I got pregnant, of course I started to think about my consumption and the effects on the baby I was carrying. I did not believe that cannabis was harmful, I never have, but as with all soon to be moms I wanted to do the right thing for my unborn child. I decided to stop. Within 1 week of quitting I started feeling nauseous to the point it was hard to eat anything. Then I had a mild seizure about 10 days into my abstinence. It was not a grand mal seizure, I remained conscious for this one. Another first.
Given my history, I decided to go back to smoking cannabis to stop the seizures from returning during the pregnancy. I smoked a few bongs daily, some in the morning then again at night throughout my pregnancy. I never experienced any further issues, until her birth.
I went into labor on December 4th, 1985, 3 weeks past my due date! We went to the hospital only to have a nurse examine me and tell me I was not ready yet. “Not yet, go home” they said. 6 hours later I returned, the same nurse examined me, and I was told nope not yet, once again. “You are contracting, but the baby does not want to drop…” she said.
This was repeated 2 more times and I finally lost it! I was faint from lack of food and pregnant for 10 months already, I wanted to be done. They admitted me and put me on an IV.
4 days passed since the start of labor, on December 8th the doctor arrived, I was finally ready, and I was having a baby.
Things progressed normally after that, but I was exhausted from the 4-day ordeal. I was in the delivery room when just after the baby’s head was delivered my Doctor looked at me to tell me to push one more time. I remember our eyes locking as his voice seemed to be slipping away. He knew right away; I was about to have a seizure.
With the baby halfway out, she would be strangled in that position with me having a seizure. He pushed down on my stomach and pulled her out. That is the last thing I remember about the birth of my first child. As I suspected, I had a grand mal seizure and wound up in critical care for 24 hours, most of that I was sedated. It had been 5 days since I consumed any cannabis.
The baby was born happy and healthy thanx to the attention my doctor was paying while I was in labor and delivery. She is now in her mid 30’s and working as a registered nurse in Toronto.
The remainder of the 80’s was uneventful as far as cannabis milestones or epiphanies.
I was raising my daughter and still being my bold outspoken self when it came to cannabis, however, it was more selective in certain circles now I was a mom.
I was still growing my plants and learning what I could, but the drive I had to engage with NORML had now shifted to raising a family.
The 80’s, Disco & Big Hair Era is over
To Be Continued…
Next up it’s the Dot Com Era, Gen X and more Babies
Going into the 90’s!
Kim "Northern Ontario" Cooper CEO NOCER Org./ Northern Ontario Cannabis Education & Resources Joint Host On The P.A.C.E. Radio Show & Reefer Reporters Associate Producer at PACE Radio Network