Article by Lynn Saxberg, Ottawa Citizen
Bluesfest organizers are getting a jump on the coming legalization of cannabis by providing a smoking area where patrons can smoke medical marijuana with proof of a prescription. Cigarette smoking is also permitted in the new area.
“It is a very hot and confusing topic right now, and these things will take time to sort out,” says Mark Monahan, Bluesfest’s executive director, of the coming legalization.
“We’re making an effort to be proactive on this, and trying to make the best of the situation and try to please everybody. For those who don’t want to be around smokers, we have a place to send (the smokers).”
In the past, many smokers have simply lit up in the crowd.
“People have been smoking in areas where it’s not permitted, and it’s difficult to police,” Monahan said. “By establishing an area, we’re hoping people will respect the other areas where we’re asking them not to smoke.”
It’s believed to be the first time in the festival’s 24 years of existence that a smoking area has been designated. It may also be the first time a Canadian festival is providing a place for users to consume cannabis, although Calgary’s city council recently amended a bylaw to allow for designated pot-smoking areas in public places such as festivals and parks.