Pubdate: Fri, 21 Apr 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Author: Dale Carruthers
Page: A3


As legalization looms, Raymond David recalls how pot possession charge
changed his life

For more than four decades, a drug possession conviction has put
limits on Raymond David's life.

David, 58, said he was charged with possession of marijuana when he
was 17 after he was caught with around 15 grams of pot.

"I haven't been able to do things like travel to the States because of
that," he said of the conviction that left him with a criminal record.
"I've never been out of Canada."

But David said he's not bitter that the drug that has limited his life
will soon be legalized.

The Londoner was one of a few dozen people who showed up at Victoria
Park Thursday afternoon for 420, an annual gathering celebrating
cannabis culture and pushing for the drug's legalization.

Though rain and chilly weather put a damper on attendance - organizers
had expected several hundred people - the demonstrators were
triumphant about the federal government's plan to legalize and
regulate cannabis for recreational use.

Their jubilation was reinforced, they said, by the London police
decision to keep their distance.

Police cruisers and unmarked vehicles circled Victoria Park Thursday,
but no uniformed officers could be seen inside the park.

"They didn't even make themselves visible," said event organizer Eric
Shepperd, who called the police tactic "the right move."

Born in Cape Breton, N.S., David moved to London 20 years ago and has
become a fixture at the rally.

"It's something I believe in and it's something I support," said
David, who worked as a labourer until injuries forced him to quit.

David said he smokes more than three grams of pot a day - he first
tried the drug when he was 12 - and buys it from dealers.

"The way I get my weed is whoever's got the best deal," he

David said he's looking forward to when cannabis is sold legally, but
he's worried added taxes could inflate pot prices.

How pot would be taxed has to be revealed before the drug is legalized
by July 2018.

Under the government's proposal, adults could possess and share as
much as 30 grams of marijuana. Users could grow as many as four
cannabis plants or buy their product from provincially regulated retailers.

Provinces would decide how pot is sold and distributed, along with the
legal age for consumption.

The proposed legislation would crack down on drug-impaired driving and
anyone caught providing cannabis to a minor.

Critics have taken aim at the impaired driving bill that gives police
authority to demand a saliva test, but David supports the measure.
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