Pubdate: Thu, 21 Apr 2016
Source: Penticton Herald (CN BC)
Page: A1
Copyright: 2016 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Joe Fries


Marijuana Users Look Forward To Liberals Following Through With
Legalization Plan

The most sacred day in cannabis culture passed with little fanfare in
Penticton, although marijuana users everywhere were treated to some
good news from the federal government to puff on.

Expressed numerically, April 20 - or 420 - has become an international
day of smoke-ins at which people gather to celebrate marijuana - just
not in Penticton.

"There's nothing established here," said Jukka Laurio, operator of the
city's first marijuana dispensary. "There is everywhere else though.
It's almost become a holiday, people walking around wishing other
people a happy 420."

The origin of 420 is unclear, according to Laurio, although he said
some believe it's a mistaken tribute to Bob Marley's birthday or some
kind of Biblical reference.

Of no doubt, however, is his support for the federal government's push
to legalize marijuana, which is now officially set to begin a year
from now.

"It's pretty well about time. I just hope they have their systems in
place by the time they draft their legislation," said Laurio, whose
Herbal Green Compassion Club opened last year but now has competition
from another dispensary on Martin Street.

"It's an inevitable thing. It will happen. The majority of people are
supporting it, and they can't stop the people, so it will happen."

In her address Wednesday to a special meeting of the United Nations
General Assembly, Health Minister Jane Philpott said her Liberal
government will introduce legislation to legalize marijuana in spring
2017. "While this plan challenges the status quo in many countries, we
are convinced it is the best way to protect our youth while enhancing
public safety," Philpott said, according to a copy of her speech
provided by Health Canada. "We will work with law-enforcement partners
to encourage appropriate and proportionate criminal justice measures.
We know it is impossible to arrest our way out of this problem."

Philpott praised the work of Insite, a supervised drug-injection site
in Vancouver, and said she will "stand up for drug policy that is
informed by solid scientific evidence and uses a lens of public health
to maximize education and minimize harm."

Legalizing marijuana was a key plank in the Liberals' platform during
the 2015 federal election.  
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D