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Canada: Bongs and blunts abound at Alberta legislature for last illegal 4-20

Clare Clancy

Edmonton Journal

Friday 20 Apr 2018

Throngs of pot smokers toked up Friday to celebrate the high holiday for cannabis culture. It’s expected to be the last time 4-20 enthusiasts need to break the rules ahead of legalization across Canada.

“I did not think I’d see legalization in my lifetime,” said Eartha Bruce, 47, who uses cannabis oil medicinally.

Her youth was a blend of fear tactics and anti-marijuana propaganda, she said, adding that current laws have led to locking up non-violent offenders for minor offences. “What I’m excited about now is … it’s a close to an ugly chapter of Canadian human rights.”

Hundreds of people descended on the Alberta legislature grounds to hang out with Mary Jane, spreading out blankets under a haze of smoke. April 20 has long been a day when pot smokers gather in public squares and parks around the world to light up, regardless of whether it’s legal.

Ottawa planned to roll out legalization by July 1. But the delay of passing Bill C-46 — a hefty piece of legislation regulating the production, sale and distribution of cannabis — means that deadline will be pushed.

In anticipation of the move, Edmonton cannabis retailer Cameron Kane used 4-20 as a way to spread his brand.

Kane, owner of The Bud King, handed out free munchies at the legislature grounds while meeting potential customers. His team is slated to open four stores in Edmonton after regulations are in place.

“We wanted to catch the 4-20 event, just spread our name in a really positive way,” he said, adding he believes the annual event could turn into a sanctioned festival.

“When it becomes legal, I think the city will be prone to allowing bigger and better events,” he said. “They could actually make some money.”

He noted that smokers who were afraid of attending 4-20 may be more comfortable under new rules, growing the number of participants in 2019.

“People who smoke are very peaceful people. 4-20 is going to continue,” he said.

For 23-year-old Carrie Willier, legalization will mean there’s less risk when buying product. “It’ll almost make you feel a little safer.”

“We’re kind of like, ‘Finally,’” chimed in friend Afton Feltham, 29. “I am fortunate enough to currently carry my medical licence and it’s been a godsend for me.

“We’re having a nice, relaxing, friendly great day,” she added.

Shortly after 4:20 p.m., Alberta sheriffs on scene attended to a young woman who appeared to be in medical distress. Paramedics arrived and also provided assistance.

On the heels of 4-20, Edmonton will host the Cannabis & Hemp Expo for consumers, businesses, growers and retailers invested in Alberta’s fledgling cannabis industry. Visitors on April 28 and 29 can expect exhibitions ranging from advocacy groups to creative glassware.




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