by Rowena Papasin, ABS-CBN News
VANCOUVER — Not even the rains in Sunset Beach can dampen the good spirits of the thousands that lit up their joints as the clock reached 4:20, during the 4/20 cannabis culture celebration last Friday.
As the smoke blanketed the park on the last April 20 celebration before Canada legalizes cannabis this summer, organizers warned the new law should erase the stigma against recreational users.
“Rules and regulations that don’t treat marijuana people like we’re bad people, that we deserve to be pushed around or put in jail or punished in any way,” said Dana Larsen.
Under the proposed law, Canadians 18 years and older can now buy cannabis from authorized retailers, while each household will be allowed to grow up to four plants for their personal use.
Adults can own up to 30 grams of weed — but if one is caught with up to 50 grams, they may get a ticket and face a fine of up to $200.
Carrying a significantly greater amount than 30 grams will mean a criminal record.
A stiffer penalty looms for those caught offering cannabis to minors.
“So a 19-yr old, he passes a joint to an 18-yr old, he faces a 14-yr maximum sentence. And if that was alcohol, they’d get a slap on the wrist or a fine or something,” said Larsen.
Each province may have different guidelines when implementing the law, but most will restrict the smoking of weed to within private property and residences.
“The government of Canada’s goal for legalizing, strictly regulating, and restricting access to cannabis is to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth, and to prevent organized crime from continuing to profit from the illegal cannabis market.”
The government explained the aim of legalization is to protect the youth and block criminal groups from making more money from cannabis.
Right now, patients can get medical marijuana from dispensaries all over Canada.
But the stores are worried, they will lose their patients due to the legalization.
“Pharmacies are gonna carry all of our medicinal products like CBD, so we’re gonna be more recreational. So unfortunately we might lose a lot of our patients that are coming in for their medical needs.”
It is precisely because of marijuana’s medicinal properties that most canadians favor its legalization, including young Filipinos.
“Hindi naman po soya drug. Isa po siyang herb kaya hindi naman data po na ipagbawal. Kasi uri po siya ng dahon na hindi ano… Hindi drugs.”
Despite these kinks, Larsen believes that the legalization of cannabis will make this once “bad boy” of herbs become more mainstream, and hopes it will be included in the medicine cabinets of more people in the years to come.