Pubdate: Fri, 21 Apr 2017
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Jonny Wakefield
Page: A5


Marijuana could be legal in Canada next year, but whether what comes
next will be better has users of the drug divided.

Throngs of pot smokers gathered on the Alberta legislature grounds
Thursday for one of the last 4/20 rallies before marijuana is
legalized next year.

On April 13, the Trudeau government introduced a bill to legalize and
regulate the sale and possession of marijuana by July 2018.

While some 4/20 attendees were happy to see the drug become legal,
others said the law won't make life better for cannabis users. While
U.S. states including Colorado and Washington now have legal pot,
Canada would be just the second country to legalize the drug.

Chris Turnbull liked the idea of legalization, saying it would grow
tax revenue. He also liked allowing the provinces to set age limits.

This year, he noticed a different vibe on the train to the

"Usually, people wait until you get here to be stoned and start
chatting," he said.

This year, "it started well before." His friend, Ryan Ledaire, agreed,
saying there seemed to be less stigma with legalization pending.

"I think people are a lot more accepting of (marijuana) when the
possibility of it being legal is available."

Tim Androschuk, 27, was attending his first 4/20 event, so he couldn't
say whether pending legalization had altered the vibe.

But he liked the idea of legalization, too. He began smoking two years
ago to self-medicate for depression, and later received a prescription
to buy through a dispensary.

"It's better now, like way better," he said of his mental health. "It
keeps me calm, it keeps me focused, it's really nice. It's better than
taking a pill."

But Cori Golanowski, who speaks for the Edmonton-based advocacy group
United Cannabis Coalition, felt many aspects of the bill could make
things worse for marijuana users.

"We're really reminding everybody that it's not a celebration," he

"There's nothing to celebrate. The announcement that they have made on
legalization is going to be Prohibition 2.0. It's going to be worse
than what we're looking at now."

He had many issues with the bill, including invasive roadside
impairment checks, and the potential for lengthy jail sentences for
going over plant counts and selling to minors.

"An 18-year-old sells to a 17-year-old at a party, and that can put
that person in prison for 14 years," he said.

At the end of the day, Golanowski said the public shouldn't expect
4/20 to lose its political edge.

"Instead of 4/20 calming down, it's not. We're in a constant war, and
it's not ending."
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