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.
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Upcoming weed expo at Stampede Park expected to match Edmonton trade
Taboos over marijuana are going up in smoke, supercharging cannabis
expos in Alberta, including one taking seed in Calgary next month, say
Fuelled by a buzz over impending national legalization and eight U.S.
states that have dropped pot prohibition, an Edmonton trade show held
in early April exceeded attendance expectations, said Kevin Blackburn
of organizer Canwest Productions.
"We were hoping for 3,000 to 5,000 people and we doubled that," he
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A handful of marijuana users gathered under clouds of rain and smoke
Thursday to hear cannabis advocates speak at Charles Clark Square in
Windsor's first 4/20 Festival.
But despite the Facebook event's call that "thousands of patients"
would be in attendance, the event attracted less than 40 people at any
one time in the opening hours.
"They're coming, they're going, they're coming back," said event
organizer Leo Lucier.
By 4:30 p.m., around 80 people were in attendance, and Lucier said he
hoped more might come after work. He said that about 500 people have
been "in and out of the event" throughout the day.
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Ex-soldiers tell trade show how natural drug has helped them battle
Trev Bungay says the horror began in 1998 when he was among Canadian
soldiers scouring the beaches of Nova Scotia in cleanup operations
after the crash of a Swissair jet just off the Atlantic coast.
"That was really my look at trauma for the very first time," Bungay
told a panel discussion on Sunday at the inaugural O'Cannabiz
Conference and Expo.
Then came international missions in Africa, Bosnia, Haiti and four
combat tours in Afghanistan.
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Last week, the Liberal government introduced the much anticipated
marijuana legalization bill, technically known as Bill C-45, The
First let me state that the Liberals clearly campaigned on legalizing
marijuana and I have heard from several citizens who indicated this
was one of the primary reasons they voted Liberal in the last
election. I mention this point as I believe the Liberal government
does have a democratic mandate to move forward with this
From a quick overview, this bill takes a similar approach I used with
my wine bill that removes federal barriers, but still allows provinces
to enact and adopt their own rules and regulations with respect to
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Marijuana enthusiasts gather to celebrate annual holiday in haze of
THE rain may have thinned the crowds - and clouds of smoke - at the
Winnipeg 4/20 celebration Thursday, but cannabis supporters still kept
their spirits high and their joints lit.
People gathered together on the lawn and sidewalks outside of the
Manitoba legislature for the event held every April 20. More planning
went into this year's festivities than ever before, with vendors and
food trucks lining the street.
This year was a bit different than it has been in the past. Now that
the federal Liberal government has tabled a bill to make marijuana
legal by Canada Day in 2018, there is cause for celebration - and some
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The annual celebration of cannabis on Parliament Hill had extra
resonance this year, coming just a week after the federal government
introduced a bill to legalize recreational marijuana.
But for many in the sea of young people at the 4-20 rally, it was also
the year's best pot party. They sat in groups, fiddling with water
pipes and bongs, puffing on joints, and pulling snacks from backpacks.
Organizers estimated the crowd as upward of 10,000; Hill security
officers pegged it closer to 6,000.
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People celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, though they're
inevitable. Since you never know the precise moment of a WHAM, it
should be worth a cheer
Deep social change happens so slowly it looks like nothing is
happening. Not just over years, but decades, maybe longer. Nothing,
nothing, nothing, nothing. Then, WHAM. The imminent legalization of
(non-medical) marijuana is a perfect example. Its perfectness even has
a generational, father to son, symmetry.
Back in 1969, the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau appointed a
royal commission to recommend policy on marijuana. Its head was a
future Supreme Court justice. They heard hundreds of witnesses,
including John Lennon, and in 1973, reported. Two of the three members
recommended decriminalization for possession and cultivation; the
third supported legalization. No one suggested keeping it criminal. It
must have been what Trudeau wanted. You always select people knowing
what they'll give you. Then, nothing, nothing, nothing - till the son.
Why finally now? Who knows? But that's how it goes: there is social
ferment, yet no official policy or law reflects it. You feel it's
hopeless. Then it bursts forth whole. Too bad for devotees of the
cause who died in the interim.
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Fifty years on, I still wince in recalling those two frightened high
school kids I saw hauled into an Oshawa courtroom and handed stiff
jail terms, two years less a day, for possessing minuscule amounts of
They weren't dealers. They were just teens dabbling in the latest
thing, but they had the misfortune of being the first "drug arrests"
in a tough, beer-swilling automotive city that was close to hysteria
over the arrival of dirty, long-haired hippies and their damn weed.
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Drugs should be used as a last option. By making cannabis more
available, we are promoting it as a first option.
Dr. John Goodhew, who supports cannabis use for therapeutic
applications, such as pain, says it can be difficult for physicians to
filter out those who want the drug just to get high.
It's no surprise that more and more Canadians are asking their doctors
for medical marijuana. And we cannot deny the harmful effects of the
drug. We should focus our energy on why Canadians turn to marijuana
and help them leave it, as much as possible.
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The federal government's plans for legalizing recreational marijuana
has many would-be players looking to carve out a role for themselves
in the emerging market, including pharmaceutical distributors who
already ship drugs across the country.
The Canadian Association for Pharmacy Distribution Management - a
supplier of medicine for pharmacies and hospitals - says it has a
ready-made system for marijuana distribution that they say is far
superior to mail-order pot.
Pharmaceutical distributors offer a more appropriate vehicle for the
recreational marijuana market, CEO David Johnston, noting they already
have the infrastructure in place to handle potential recalls, be it in
downtown Toronto or remote northern Ontario.
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The federal government slipped its marijuana bill into the House the
day before Good Friday, with almost no one around to ask questions.
The government itself had few answers to the more pressing issues,
leaving most important matters to be determined later, by other levels
of government. So in the same spirit, herewith various questions that
do not appear to have adequate answers.
What is the social good that marijuana legalization is intended to
achieve? The arguments for legalization - removing the burden on the
criminal justice system, not impeding future career prospects with a
youthful criminal conviction, removing the scope for organized crime -
are negative in nature, getting rid of various supposed bad things.
But what is the good that we can expect from making marijuana more
readily available? Is there any? Can we expect greater labour
productivity, higher educational achievement, enhanced physical
fitness, a lower carbon footprint, a better equalization system?
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There's always been something a bit odd about the great marijuana
legalization crusade. Supporters, eager to avoid being seen as a bunch
of frustrated pot-heads who just wanted easier access, put forward
solid, practical arguments.
They pointed out that the war against drugs wasn't working: anyone
could see that. People who wanted pot would find a way to get it, no
matter how illegal it might be. Police time was wasted chasing kids
with a few grams of marijuana, and branding young people as criminals
for a bit of pot was a crime in itself. Criminalization just paved the
way for organized crime to peddle the stuff to kids, with no controls
and huge profits. It made no sense.
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If the Liberals insist on legalizing marijuana before July 1, 2018,
then they need to get it right. Canadians are learning that's easier
said than done.
There are many hurdles - from health to enforcement to taxation - that
the feds, provinces and families need to grapple with before then.
As Conservative leadership candidate and doctor Kellie Leitch wrote in
a recent Sun guest column, medical research shows "young people who
use marijuana have lower high school graduation rates, which puts
their future in jeopardy. Worse, the science shows that marijuana use
in 18- to 25-year-olds can result in brain deformities."
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The federal government's proposed bill for legalizing marijuana
expands police powers, sets new mandatory penalties for illegal
possession, and boosts prison sentences for lawbreakers. That all
sounds pretty tough.
But the legislation also downloads some difficult decision-making on
to provincial authorities, and from there on to municipalities and
local police. That part's going to be tougher.
For example: Where will legal cannabis be sold? The 130-page federal
bill leaves this crucial detail to the province. Will it be in your
local liquor store? At a corner store but hidden, like cigarettes?
From some other outlet? Mail order only? And how close to a school or
youth centre can sales take place? About all we know is you can't sell
cannabis from a vending machine.
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Former prime minister Stephen Harper started the ball rolling, and
present Prime Minister Justin (Pierre Jr.) Trudeau picked up on it and
looks like he's going to run with it, legalizing marijuana.
As if we haven't got enough problems with drinking, driving, texting
and myriad other distractions to keep people "safe from harm."
Medical marijuana is a fallacy, dreamed up by some potheads so they
can smoke illicit drugs legally.
Duh. I have two adult children and five teenage grandchildren, and
hopefully they won't get caught up in the usage of same.
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The era of legal weed will require broad investments in public health,
according to the Saskatchewan Medical Association.
Legislation alone is inadequate, president Dr. Intheran Pillay said.
"I think expanding the access to support services such as mental
health and substance use services would be important. I think it would
be important to expand access to training programs in addiction
medicine and I think it's important to make extensive educational
resources on the risks of harm to youth and others available, as well."
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World-class athletes attend Toronto cannabis trade show
Anyone hoping to find a stoner scene worthy of a Jeff Spiccoli pipe
dream at the conference would be disappointed
There can't be much that better illustrates the mainstreaming of
cannabis in North American culture than an industry "trade show" at
which two world-class athletes endorse the product and muse about a
day when pot companies will sponsor pro sports arenas. With the
Liberal government promising to legalize marijuana by Canada Day 2018,
the era of marijuana prohibition is over, Olympic gold medallist Ross
Rebagliati told the O'Cannabiz Conference and Expo in Toronto on Saturday.
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"Stoners are nice," said Samantha, a happy participant in Thursday's
4-20 celebrations on Parliament Hill. "Honestly, we're like a great
So went the blissful murmurings among cannabis users at the annual
homage. With 6,000 people toking on the lawn in front of Centre Block
- - the prime minister was not in town to bask in the glow of their
happiness - you'd think recreational marijuana use was already legal.
It isn't yet, and may not be even by July 1, 2018, the target date the
Trudeau government has set. Barely a week after four ministers and a
parliamentary secretary were trotted out to introduce the pertinent
legislation, it's becoming clear what a complicated business this is
going to be.
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Even with last week's tabling of the marijuana legalization bill, it's
still unclear what the distribution system will look like, says Shawn
Galbraith of Evergreen Medicinal Supply Inc. His company recently
received approval from Health Canada to be a licensed producer of
"Basically, as far as distribution, it's up to each province to decide
how they want to distribute it and tax it, so there's a whole bunch of
different models being floated out there right now," Galbraith said.
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