Article by Kate Robertson, London Free Press
I used to think 4/20, the cannabis community’s annual protest-celebration hybrid held annually on April 20, was exceptionally uncool..Growing up in Etobicoke, we’d smoke beside the train tracks and go play 007 — and no one, not one teacher and certainly not one police officer, cared. I’d never been hassled by police or even stopped for buying or consuming cannabis. I also didn’t depend on it, like a medical consumer, or fully appreciate why a potentially effective medicine should be accessible to chronically ill people to at least see if it helps..This healthy white girl from the ‘burbs enjoyed an enormously privileged stoner lifestyle, smoking weed and dealing with zero consequences. Smoking weed isn’t a personality trait, I thought, and readily dismissed the whole concept of it needing a holiday to celebrate it..My attitude began to change when I started working at my local alt-weekly around the same time the Liberals announced their plan to legalize recreational cannabis. Toronto’s NOW Magazine had been covering cannabis activists as a counterculture movement since the 1980s, and I learned more about the nature of the battle to legalize weed..Jodie Emery had seemingly taken over from then-husband Marc, who was finishing up a sentence in a U.S. jail for selling cannabis seeds online, as one of the main spokespeople for the national movement. And the hard-won Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) was evolving into the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) — medical cannabis had been legal for some time, but demand was growing and access was evolving..That’s when I started to become more aware of my privileged status as a weed smoker. It’s also when sunk in that I’d done exactly nothing to help the movement to legalize..When the cannabis industry started to grow, I was further drawn in by discussions about the stigma associated with consuming weed. I started to understand that my own attitudes, which included shunning and dismissing cannabis culture and activism on 4/20, fed into anti-legalization efforts..And that brings me to today..We’re all feeling sorry for ourselves on account of the lockdown, and it’s a bummer we can’t congregate and celebrate the victories and privileges we’ve achieved. But during this 4/20 — which we’re celebrating all month, by the way — I am counting my lucky stars that I’m quarantined here in Canada..Yes, it’s because we have more weed than ever to choose from while we’re in lockdown. We’re enjoying some of the world’s most progressive drug policies, and cannabis has moved far, far from the counterculture and finds itself deeply entrenched in the mainstream..I bet the average Canadian is becoming bored of cannabis. How cool is that?.And for those who aren’t satisfied with how legalization has unfolded and believe there’s still work to do? Well, 4/20 is probably even more of a holiday for you. The aforementioned Jodie Emery agrees with you — she believes the current system is over-regulated and disagrees with any criminalization associated with illicit cannabis..Other advocates now work in the industry, like Hilary Black of Canopy Growth. She is still calling for better treatment of medical cannabis consumers by removing the excise tax from medical transactions. She’s working toward increased comprehensive coverage from private health plans and more education for doctors and employers who work with people who use medical cannabis..According to these advocates, there’s still a lot of work to do.