Pubdate: Wed, 17 Apr 2013
Source: Terrace Standard (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Terrace Standard
Author: Josh Massey


CANNABIS ADVOCATES are gathering at the courthouse Saturday afternoon
to smoke a little (or maybe a lot of) pot and take in events financed
by local lottery millionaire and weed legalization activist Bob Erb.

The origin of the name 4/20 varies depending on who you talk to, but
the date of April 20 has taken hold around the world in recent years
as the day for marijuana legalization rallies.

Usually held in larger urban centres, this is the first time a 4/20
rally has been held in Terrace and it is one of many across the
country being financially supported by Erb.

"This wouldn't happen if there wasn't somebody who won a great deal of
money and is being able to afford to bring people into town to speak,"
said Skeena MLA Robin Austin.

Erb donated more than $100,000 dollars to 4/20 events around Canada
this year, drawn from his $25 million Lotto Max winnings from last

As per the 4/20 tradition, there will be many joints passed around at
the courthouse, Erb said.

The local RCMP will be notified in advance about the over-18 event and
Erb does not foresee arrests being a problem, partly because the
British Columbia Union of Municipalities voted last September to
support decriminalization.

Erb's legalization push, including efforts to have marijuana pulled
from Canada's Controlled Drug and Substances Act are carried out under
the advocacy group name Erb4Herb. Erb4Herb merchandise will be on
display Saturday - which will include mugs, t-shirts, signs and other

The group posted an invite online last week calling Terrace residents
to meet at the hill outside the Terrace Sportsplex shortly before 4
p.m. and to join a march to the courthouse.

"This doesn't have to be a street-stopping event the first time," Erb
said, stressing that he also wants the rally to be

Erb said that though legislative change has to come from the federal
government, his 4/20 Terrace event aims to recruit supporters for a
project initiated by Sensible BC, an organization that wants to hold a
province-wide referendum on marijuana decriminalization next year.

He says that he's seen pot smoking become more accepted in Terrace
since he moved here over four decades ago. "It's come out of the back
alleys. Manual labourers, doctors, lawyers, it has no social,
economic, political boundaries."

The owners of local business Deviant Fibres, a hemp shop located in
the Lazelle Mini-mall, are playing a lead role in the 4/20 event.

Robin Austin, running for re-election in the Skeena riding for the NDP
in the May 14 provincial election, was invited to the event by
Sensible B.C. organizer Dana Larsen.

"I'm hoping that Sensible BC will be able to achieve their goal just
as those who opposed the HST were," Austin said, stressing that a
referendum on legalization has never been discussed in the NDP caucus,
and that he was not speaking for the party.

"I think the people are ahead in the game and understand much better
this issue than the politicians," Austin said. "During election it's a
great time to engage people because it's the one time people stop to
think about political or public policy issues."

Several groups, including NORML Women's Alliance of Canada, 420
Toronto, the Herb Museum of Vancouver and Calgary 420 formed a
national organization named 420 and received money from Erb to
organize events in Canada.

The money is being used to create a standardized set-up at events
across the country, Erb said. Publicity includes radio

Erb wants to match donations for a total of $500,000 toward a
referendum campaign. Sensible BC needs to get a petition signed by a
minimum of 10 per cent of the voters in all 85 B.C. provincial ridings
to acquire the right to hold a referendum. Erb's 4/20 event is held in
part to forge an initial list of supporters.

Erb's cannabis plans for marijuana in the Terrace area are big.
Forestry companies will grow hemp in clear-cuts and use fibre for
pressboard like OSB, he said. Hemp grows much faster than wood, Erb
argued, so it could be harvested with a quicker turnaround. "We need
another industry in the northwest," Erb said.

While Austin will be in attendance, Terrace mayor Dave Pernarowski
won't be there, saying he has other commitments. An email sent to
Skeena - Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen's office was not answered.

Featured at the rally will be spoken word poets John Akpata and
Whitney French from Ontario. Akpata is an Ottawa-based performance
poet and journalist who has run in federal elections for the Marijuana
Party several times, participated in all-candidates events in Ottawa
and gained notoriety for his raw political speeches that incorporate
poetry. Documentary filmmaker Kalmplex is also in town to film the
poets' visit, including stops at local high schools, said Erb.
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D