Pubdate: Mon, 21 Apr 2014
Source: Niagara Falls Review, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 Niagara Falls Review
Author: John Law


Allowing marijuana medically was one battle. Allowing it for
recreational use is the next one.

The 11th annual 420 Rally in Niagara Falls preached one simple message
for hours: Stop making criminals of cannabis users. People shouldn't
need a prescription or jump through government hoops to enjoy their
stash, participants said.

As their yearly motto goes, Free the Weed.

For head injury survivor Reggie Storm of Ridgeway, life without
marijuana would be a "nightmare." Every other drug he tried kept him
bedridden and depressed.

"It allows me to function and be a part of communities like this," he
said, playing his guitar at the event. "It's the marijuana that takes
away my stress throughout the day."

As always, the rally gathered at Victoria Ave. and Niagara Veterans
Memorial Highway - formerly Highway 420 - before heading down Clifton
Hill to a small patch of Queen Victoria Park, where there was a
simultaneous spark-up at 4:20 p.m. For years, pot enthusiasts around
the world have rallied for legalization on April 20.

No exceptions. Not medical prescriptions. The complete
decriminalization of marijuana.

Steve Witter of St. Catharines was attending his fourth rally, and
says they help people separate the facts from "propaganda."

While he doesn't smoke for medical reasons, "it does help me sleep and
with my anxiety."

For those who do require it medically, the laws aren't helping says
Clarke Bitter, a Green Party candidate in February's Niagara Falls
byelection. Health Canada's convoluted process requires a consultation
with a practitioner, who then fills out a medical document authorizing
how many daily grams a patient can use. The patient must then register
as a client with a licensed pot producer - there are only 13 - who
will ship the dried marijuana through the mail.

"Where do new (patients) go?," wonders Bitter. "Because when you go on
the website, it says all the licensed producers are temporarily not
accepting anyone."

All for a service Health Canada does not appear to support. "Dried
marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada," its website
states. "The government of Canada does not endorse the use of
marijuana, but the courts have required reasonable access to a legal
source of marijuana when authorized by a physician." The Niagara Falls
420 Rally was started by Eric Wood in 2004. Though he's licensed to
use pot medically, he feels the need to fight for everyone else.

"Legalize it, that's the only answer," he says.

"Stop hurting the kids. They get a record, they can't get a job. It's

"Everybody should get a pass. Legalize it, and then the medical people
can get the weed anywhere they want. What is t he problem?
Recreational ( users) can't stand up here - they'll lose their jobs,
they'll lose their friends, they'll lose their reputation."

Kelly Kush of St. Catharines used to be a mom who yelled at her kids
for smoking pot. But when she tried it at 40 for her chronic pain, the
difference was remarkable.

"Almost instantly it was like, ' Oh my God, there's no pain.' It's
just amazing. People use it for so many different reasons."  
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