OTTAWA – 4/20 - Forecast hazy for annual cannabis decriminalization day
Forecast hazy for annual cannabis decriminalization day
By Karl Kofmel, Postmedia News April 20, 2013 9:01 AM
OTTAWA – The Weather Network’s website predicted Saturday would be “cloudy with sunny breaks.” Which sounds about right for the thousands expected to congregate on Parliament Hill to mark the annual “4/20? toke-up in favour of cannabis legalization.
But while the throng may be intent on getting high, it remains hazy how much the annual gathering helps push forward the cannabis cause.
“I don’t think they lost focus; it’s just that they went as far as they could,” said Bob Erb, a British Columbia lottery winner who uses his money to support 4/20 activism wherever he can.
“Certainly they needed a boost, a national network, a website, that brings them all together.”
“While 4/20 and other cannabis protests certainly do make parliamentarians smirk a little, it is no laughing matter,” said Adam Greenblatt, executive director of the Medical Cannabis Access Society. He said he wasn’t speaking for the society.
“There will be a point to the cannabis protests until such a time comes that cannabis is legalized and regulated in a manner similar to alcohol or coffee.”
The origin of the name “4/20? is contested. It could have come from four California students who took 20 minutes to get to their smokes, or smokers who would tell their friends it was 4:20 p.m. as a code so the people around them wouldn’t know what they were doing. But nowadays cannabis backers gather to smoke in public at a designated spot on the 20th day of the fourth month. In the nation’s capital, that spot is Parliament Hill.
Stalwarts maintain that this year, they will have massive support.
“I believe that this particular 4/20 is going to be even larger and a greater collective voice than it ever has been,” said Andrea Matrosovs for the Norml Women’s Alliance of Canada, a group looking to reform marijuana laws.
“There’s a much larger issue at stake here than just the freedom to be able choose cannabis as a recreational product.”
This year, the Young Liberals, Greens and some NDP members were reportedly planning to participate, and a mock vote will be held via cellphone for favourite political party.
Organizers hope this will be mobilize voters on the way to the 2015 federal election.
“People who are in attendance are going to have a chance to do a mock vote after they hear the various party representatives speaking,” said Matrosovs.
The protest isn’t just for those who like to partake in cannabis.
“I’m a non-consumer. I’m coming because I’m a mother, because I’m a former high school teacher,” said Matrosovs. “It’s the social justice aspects of prohibition and why it’s harming our Canadian society that have driven me to come as one more participant.”
Party positions on cannabis legislation vary.
In 2012, the Liberals added decriminalization to their federal platform to join the NDP who already support decriminalization. The Conservatives oppose changing laws. The government’s 2011 omnibus crime bill increased the maximum penalty for drug possession and increased mandatory minimum penalties and sentences.
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Original source article: Forecast hazy for annual cannabis decriminalization day