Jimi Hendrix, the Dorsey Brothers and the Julian Fantino marijuana controversy

Career police officer and tough-on-crime politician Julian Fantino is the primary target of a Guardian U.K. article about retired senior police officers who now work with marijuana companies profiting from Canada’s legalization of the drug.

The article by The Guardian’s Toronto-based journalist Ashifa Kassam is a fair but short and therefore limited tale of the frustration of long-time marijuana legalization activists who see former police officers and large corporations capitalizing from their work while the activists are barred from the industry. Activists/dealers interviewed in that article and now facing criminal charges include Jodie and Marc Emery.

Left unsaid and uncovered in the article is why so many marijuana corporations hire former senior cops: because the corporations must convince both government and investors that organized crime and criminals are not part of their operations. Former senior police officers have the necessary skills and knowledge to keep organized crime from the industry.

I understand the injustice, real and perceived, and hope that Jodie and Marc Emery are spared a criminal record that would bar them from the industry – provided they now comply with the coming new legal standards.

Precedent for dropping Criminal Charges when law changes

There is, after all, precedent for dropping criminal charges against persons who committed ‘crimes’ when the law was about to change and decriminalize their activities. Abortionist Dr. Henry Morgantaler comes to mind as the Toronto Police actually protected Morgantaler’s operations during a period when abortion still criminally illegal but the government had announced that it was going to change the law.

Back to the marijuana issue; as Julian Fantino constantly tells the news media, he and his company have always engaged in lawful activities and as a police officer he didn’t make the laws; only enforced them without fear or favour according to the Rule of Law. We can’t have it any other way or we end up with despot police, prosecutors and judges who enforce or ignore laws according to class, tribe or payment of bribes.

Like it or not, Fantino and his fellow senior police officers obeyed the law in the past and have the skills that the industry needs now. But somehow, if seems just and fair that ordinary Canadians of otherwise good character and record should also have an opportunity in the new legalized marijuana industry.

Jimi Hendrix, the Dorsey Brothers and Marijuana

Times change and so do people. At fourteen years old I attended the May 3, 1969 Jimi Hendrix concert at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. My mother, who had played piano with the Dorsey Brothers way back when and recognized musical talent, surprised me with a ticket to see Hendrix. My father was speechless but allowed me to go. After all, he knew that mom as a musician had been arrested for being underage in a bar in Chicago. (Much to their horror, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey learned from the Chicago Police that ‘Maddy’ their piano player and my future mom, was only 15 years old and not 21 as she had claimed. That was go-to-jail-for-ten-years stuff back then.)

So I went to the Hendrix concert and while there, I may have heard rumours about some people inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke. In fact, I may have inhaled some second-hand marijuana smoke myself. Or maybe not so second-hand.

And I sure lied about it six years later during my employment interview with the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force.

Which is all to say that as the rules and laws change, we should take care to differentiate between evil criminals who harm people and ordinary Canadians who may have been a little naughty or even deliberately violated laws ahead of societal changes.

You can read more about Julian Fantino and the story that the Canadian news media won’t cover: Canadian News Media swarms Julian Fantino over marijuana business – Ignores Fantino’s sworn evidence of corrupt police, lawyers, judge.

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Donald Best
Barrie, Ontario, Canada


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