Pubdate: Thu, 28 Apr 2016
Source: Vancouver Courier (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Vancouver Courier
Author: Mike Howell


Organizer of today's 4-20 protest at Sunset Beach predicts bigger 
events when pot legalized

An organizer of today's 4-20 marijuana protest at Sunset Beach is 
welcoming the news that Canada's health minister announced that the 
Trudeau government will introduce legislation next spring to legalize 

But Dana Larsen, who is a director of a non-profit that runs two 
marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver, said the public shouldn't expect 
the government's move will spell an end to the annual 4-20 events in Vancouver.

"It means we're going to be bigger and better than ever," Larsen said 
of the event that historically attracts thousands of marijuana 
smokers. "The Pride parade didn't end when gay marriage was 
legalized. It got bigger. I don't see any problem with continuing to 
have a cannabis-friendly event when cannabis is legalized. It'll just 
be a lot more fun and a lot less stressful."

Health Minister Jane Philpott announced today at the United Nations 
in New York that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government will 
introduce legislation in the spring of 2017 "that ensures that we 
keep marijuana out of the hands of children and profits out of the 
hands of criminals." Philpott is at the United Nations to participate 
in a review of international drug treaties.

"While this plan challenges the status quo of many countries, we are 
convinced it is the best way to protect our youth while enhancing 
public safety," she said. "Canada will continue to modernize our 
approach to drug policy. Our work will embrace upstream prevention, 
compassionate treatment and harm reduction. 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."

While Larsen said the news was positive, he wants the federal 
government to immediately stop arresting people for possession of 
marijuana and personal cultivation as a sign of goodwill before 
legislation is passed.

"It makes no sense to me," he said.

Meanwhile, the city continues to process and review applications from 
existing and potential marijuana dispensary operators. The city is 
expected to begin granting business licences to dispensaries within 
the next few months. The city wants to regulate the pot shops, not the pot.

It's unclear how the federal government's legislation will affect the 
operation of pot shops, with some analysts saying the dispensaries 
would become irrelevant and marijuana would be sold in pharmacies and 
liquor stores.

April 20 is embraced by pot smokers because it falls on the 20th day 
of the fourth month of the year. In other words, 4-20. There is an 
ongoing dispute among cannabis enthusiasts about the significance of 
4-20, with most believing it relates to the time of day a group of 
California hippies met in the 1970s to smoke weed outside a school.

Asked about the significance, or coincidence, of Philpott making such 
an announcement on April 20, Larsen described it as "more of a cosmic 
coincidence in that regard, that this important drug policy UN 
meeting is happening on our sacred high holy holiday of 4-20. But I 
don't think that was anything that anybody planned out."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom