Pubdate: Wed, 20 Apr 2016
Source: Metro (Vancouver, CN BC)
Page: 5
Copyright: 2016 Metro Canada
Author: Matt Kieltyka


Jodie Emery Says The Fight To Legalize Weed Is Heating Up

Pot advocates in Vancouver have renewed fire in their bellies as the 
annual 4/20 protest moves to a new site Tuesday amid battles with the 
city and federal government.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's lack of progress on promised 
legalization and the City of Vancouver's aggressive regulatory 
crackdown on marijuana dispensaries (up to 100 businesses could face 
closure as of next week) means there's plenty to protest about at 
Sunset Beach, according to organizer Jodie Emery.

"The Liberal government hasn't kept its promise of legalization. It 
has failed Canadians by continuing to arrest people for pot 
possession. I'm disappointed," said Emery, who attempted to run for 
the Liberals in the last federal election.

Coupled with what she calls the city's new "unfair" and "unnecessary" 
regulatory regime of dispensaries (currently just 12 of more than 100 
dispensaries have successful navigated the licensing process that 
dictates where the businesses are allowed to set up shop), Emery says 
marijuana supporters "need to protest more than ever."

"It's similar to what happened when Obama got elected in the U.S. 
Because the new government was seen as liberal and progressive, 
protesters kind of stopped even though things were getting worse," 
said Emery. "We have to be careful about the Liberal government."

But not all Canadians may be of the same opinion.

A new Angus Reid Institute poll released Tuesday shows that while 68 
per cent of Canadians support some sort of marijuana legalization, 
more than half (54 per cent) see it as one of the least important 
issues facing the country.

"That's the part that sticks out to me," said Angus Reid Institute 
executive director Shachi Kurl, who noted Trudeau began his campaign 
in Vancouver with the promise to legalize pot.

"It's way down on the list of things to do. It's not the issue for 
the general public that it was 10, 20 or even five years ago. I think 
the debate has moved on from not if we should (legalize) but how we should."

Emery said she wishes the government would get on with it.

The outspoken advocate, who is married to "Prince of Pot" Marc Emery, 
doesn't know how big of a crowd this year's event, at Sunset Beach 
for the first time, will draw.

Last year's final protest outside the Vancouver Art Gallery drew 
50,000 people but was publicly opposed by the City of Vancouver, 
which believed it had outgrown the location, caused considerable 
downtown congestion and should've gone through the same permitting 
process as other large-scale public events.

While the city still considers 4/20 an unsanctioned and unlicensed 
event, city manager Sadhu Johnston has said the new location at 
Sunset Beach "will require fewer city resources" and be safer. The 
Vancouver park board remains staunchly opposed, according to chair 
Sarah Kirby-Yung.

It has had to close the park's aquatics centre during the event and 
increase staffing of rangers and lifeguards to ensure public safety.

"It's not an ideal location for it," she told Metro on Monday. 
"Certainly, park board commissioners don't want to see this as an 
ongoing event." 
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D