It seems that we are on the cusp of change for cannabis in Canada. Now that CSSDP members have reported and reflected on many of the 420 festivities that took place across the country, this post will focus on the future of cannabis in Canada to complete the 420 Blog Series. There are three main developments to keep an eye on…
1) MMPR Injunction
2) Sensible BC Referendum
3) 2015 Election Opportunity
The last year has been monumental for cannabis legalization, with Uruguay, Colorado, and Washington State legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use. We also have a lot to celebrate in Canada, as the MMAR Coalition of Repeal has just blocked Health Canada’s new marijuana laws (MMPR or Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations) which served to outlaw patients who grow their own medicine or designate someone on their behalf. Led by constitutional lawyer John C. Conroy Q.C., this coalition has allowed patients and designated growers to continue to produce their own marijuana until the court injunction releases a final decision. To celebrate this exciting progression during the 420 weekend, I went to Hanna, Alberta to visit cannabis patient, grower and marijuana mom extraordinaire Tamara Cartwright-Poulits. Tamara is the Alberta Representative for the MMAR Coalition of Repeal, as well of the founder Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy’s Lethbridge Chapter.
420 in Toronto has always been a rather strange thing to me. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people protesting the illegal status of cannabis, all the while head shops all around the city are packed to the brim, throwing 420 parties and celebrating marijuana culture. My own 420 celebrations typically involve me just getting stoned with friends – and so I decided that this year I would actively participate.
Unlike the hail that Ottawa was graced with the previous year, the weather on 420 was beautiful. It was sun shining, sunglass sporting, t-shirt wearing weather. This year, thousands flocked to Parliament Hill in support of cannabis legalization and regulation. Our small group of five people arrived at 2 PM and groups of people had already circled-up and set up their spaces. Most were sitting and smoking, but others were hooping, dancing, and doing poi; everyone was enjoying the beautiful day. We quickly moved to the front right-hand side of the lawn, set up our circle, laid down blankets and got cozy.
“It’s a celebration more so than it is a protest,” my roommate Zach says to me as we walk around the packed social gathering that has become 420. Vancouver is a hub of cannabis culture, having been the first place to begin the series of protests that have become 420 rallies across the world. For a political rally, 420 has truly become a celebration of cannabis in all of its forms, with vendors and local drug dealers alike cashing in on the enthusiasm of the 30,000 individuals who came to this year’s rally. In total, there were two vendor booths that focused on policy based initiatives for ending the war on drugs, although there were also many dispensaries, which currently are fighting to stay alive under the new MMAR laws. The rally was tied together with amazing speeches by people like David Malmo Levine and Jodie Emery.
Despite the rain, thousands gathered in Hyde Park, London, UK to celebrate 420 and show their support for cannabis legalization and regulation. Cannabis enthusiasts were reminded of the illegality of their drug of choice upon entry to the park as signs stating that, “Possession of cannabis is illegal” and “Extra police on patrol in Hyde Park” were abundant. We even spotted a “Cannabis surrender bin.” Given that the 420 celebrators already know the legal status of cannabis, these warnings did not stop thousands from publicly lighting up throughout the day.
On April 20, cannabis users across Canada and around the world will be celebrating 420, challenging the stigma around cannabis and fighting for drug policy reform. CSSDP is launching a 420 Blog Series to report and reflect on 420 festivities. CSSDP members from Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Alberta and London, England will be attending and writing about 420 festivities. If you would like to be involved, please send an email to our Chair of the Board of Directors, Nazlee Maghsoudi, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to accept and publish posts from CSSDP members and non-members, from across Canada and abroad, and from places that are represented and are not represented in the series thus far.
Drug users in Crimea are facing disaster as they watch the stock piles of methadone and buprenorphine – medications that allow them to live normal and productive lives – run out in front of them, likely for good.
Those following the situation in Crimea have undoubtedly heard the concerns of the Tatars, the Jewish community, and even the affluent middle class, but the group in the most immediate danger of having life as they know it turned on its head – 803 drug users in opiate substitution therapy (OST) programs – have, as is often the case, received little attention.