Pubdate: Thu, 21 Apr 2016
Source: Prince George Citizen (CN BC)
Page: 17
Copyright: 2016 Prince George Citizen
Author: Tamsyn Burgmann


VANCOUVER - Stoner subculture will likely take a hit with the incoming
legalization of marijuana in Canada because as the cause vanishes, so
will celebration of the drug, say experts.

The declaration comes as the federal government announced a spring
2017 deadline for introducing new marijuana laws and while thousands
of people gathered across Canada for the annual April 20 'Weed Day'
protest, also known as 4-20.

Protesting against cannabis prohibition has become a social movement
with its own ideology and symbols, but that will likely change with
the repeal of criminalization, said Benedikt Fischer, a senior
scientist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

"Once marijuana becomes legalized, normalized, mainstream, the cause
disappears," said Fischer. "I suspect these things will kind of fizzle

Lynne Belle-Isle, co-founder of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition,
agreed that with legalization the appeal of smoking up in rebellion
could disappear. She said society could benefit as messaging is
developed around using the drug more safely.

"Like alcohol, if you see your parents having a glass of wine with
dinner, it's no big deal. You learn responsible use if that's what
you're exposed to," she said.

"Social norms get created when you're able to do it openly, that
doesn't happen when people have to hide."

One of Canada's most prominent pot protests on Wednesday was at
Vancouver's Sunset Beach, with participants lighting up and eating
marijuana edibles in a traditional act of mass civil

And just like past years, a festive atmosphere rose from the crowd of
revellers who mingled around a farmer's marketstyle cluster of
vendors, a stage and rows of portable toilets.

Participants buzzed over free guidelines books including a site map,
messages about safemarijuana use and political slogans. Organizer
Jodie Emery said $100,000 was raised to fund amenities and security
for the all-day cannabis culture bash.

Last year, health officials said that more than 60 people were treated
in hospital for complaints of symptoms ranging from upset stomachs to
acute anxiety and psychosis. Three-quarters of them had consumed
edible marijuana products.

Earlier in the day, Health Minister Jane Philpott told a special
United Nations session on drugs that the Liberal government is
convinced marijuana legalization is the best way to protect youth and
enhance public safety.

In an emotional address, she told delegates that Canada must do better
when it comes to drug policy. She said Ottawa's approach will be
rooted in science.

Longtime marijuana activist David Malmo-Levine, 44, has attended
Vancouver's pot protest for nearly two decades and said he believes
pot culture is essential to achieving legalization.

"If you make it look fun, more people will participate," he said.
"We're going to dance down the streets and... puff on our magic
flower. Once everyone is free it will turn into a formal celebration.
And until everyone is free, it's still a protest."

Ellis Worthington, 30, wearing a T-shirt on Sunset Beach reading "I
toke and I vote," said he believes legalization will see pot treated
like alcohol.

"I think it will become a part of everyday life," he said. "You can go
to an event, go to the beer garden and get some bud."

Documentary filmmaker Leandro Vilaca, 33, said legalization will
change the way marijuana is branded but it will keep its image as cool
and creative.

"As soon as we open it up, it will become like tomatoes," he said.
"When you go to Kelowna, you see wineries. When you come to Vancouver,
you see dispensaries."  
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D