Pubdate: Mon, 03 Nov 2014
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Jenny Yuen
Page: 12


Comedy night about weed closes after 25 years at the El Mocambo

TORONTO - A comedian stands on stage and asks, "How do fish get high?"

He pauses and reveals the punchline: "Seaweed."

ExtravaGANJA, a medical marijuana comedy show, will go up in smoke
after 25 years in Toronto. The revue is expected to take its last toke
on Wednesday at the famous El Mocambo, after showcasing pot jokes since 

"I guess some sensibilities have changed, so I'm winding it down,"
organizer Howard Dover, 52, says. "Twenty-five years ago, people
weren't as open to the idea of medical marijuana and I think it's
changed considerably. I think it will be quite fitting the El Mo will
be closing two nights later."

The federal government recently imposed new rules on medical marijuana
to cut out what officials say were "abuses in the system" and to shut
down home-grown production.

Any new patients permitted to smoke weed for medical purposes now have
to get their prescriptions filled at designated licensed commercial
producers approved by Health Canada.

The plan, as of April 1, was that Health Canada would no longer
license users or distribute marijuana. However in March, a federal
court judge ruled the old program could continue, meaning those
grandfathered in the old system were still allowed to grow their own

Health Canada is appealing the decision. Meanwhile, the new system is
up and running.

Dover, who in the 1980s had a medical marijuana licence for chronic
back pain, runs his own company, Green Therapy, which is devoted to
raising the awareness of the benefits of medical marijuana and
"helping bring patients some relief by giving them a laugh or two"
through the comedy show.

"It was concerning (back then) that people didn't believe marijuana
had medicinal value, that people who had AIDS were taking it to
stimulate their appetite so they could eat proper foods and live
relatively normal lives," he said.

On the bill for Wednesday's 90-minute show are at least five comedians
and some musicians and burlesque performers, including Steve Patterson
of the Debaters and MC Alan Park of the Royal Canadian Air Farce, who
had his own battle with cancer.

Last summer, Park was diagnosed with stage four aggressive advanced
prostate cancer and doctors told him he was "too far gone" for
chemotherapy. They put him on Firmagon, a testosterone blocking drug.
The side effects were nearly unbearable, he says.

After researching the benefits of medicinal marijuana online, Park
says he feels as close to being cancer-free as he has for the many
months he used cannabis oil.

"As a comic, I think that's my new hook," says Park, 51. "If you don't
want to declare me cancer-free, then I guess I will be the world's
only late stage four aggressive advanced prostate cancer victim that
doesn't do any kind of medical application other than cannabis oil and
I'm still alive and thriving."

Park says he's not prescribing or telling people what to do when it
comes to cancer treatment, however, he insists marijuana saved his

"There will be a period between the cancer diagnosis where the doctor
will tell you scary, horrible things to the time you do chemo or
surgery or take pills," he says. "If people were in the same position
I was, I'd try to take that substance and see if there's any

Dover, meanwhile, says he expects 200 people to attend the show and
while he notes access for users of medicinal marijuana has
"absolutely" increased, there's still a long way to go.

"There's a political message to not only go and vote in the federal
election, but seriously consider Justin Trudeau," he says. "We can't
have more of (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper - he just doesn't get

For those attending the show, can they expect to even see the stage
beyond the puffs of smoke?

"I imagine there will be lots of medicating, but as the owner has
requested people step on to the sidewalk and do it," Dover says with a

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Weed Needs

Medical marijuana stats:

37,800 people hold an authorization to possess medicinal marijuana in
Canada More than 12,000 people have signed up with the 13 commercial
producers currently authorized to sell to the public

How to get medicinal marijuana:

Consult with a doctor Obtain a medical document from your doctor
Register and order with a licensed producer Marijuana will be sent to
the user directly by the producer. Regulations do not allow for
store-front or retail distribution centres.

Possession of dried marijuana for medical purposes:

The amount of marijuana one can possess is the lesser of 30 times the
daily amount stipulated by the doctor or 150 grams. If asked by
police, users can demonstrate they are in legal possession by showing
either the label on the marijuana package with the client's
information or a document containing the same information that
accompanied the shipment of marijuana.

- - Source: Health Canada
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MAP posted-by: Matt