Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Parliament Hill Plays Host to Last Annual Marijuana Rally before Legalization

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Parliament Hill Plays Host to Last Annual Marijuana Rally before Legalization

Article excerpt

Cannabis users flock to Ottawa pot rally

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OTTAWA - A haze of marijuana smoke blanketed crowds on Parliament Hill on Friday as pot enthusiasts of all ages gathered below the Peace Tower for the annual cannabis celebration known as 4-20.

The event marks the last time pot users will flock to the Hill to celebrate cannabis culture in late April before the federal government legalizes recreational marijuana later this summer.

"What happened here today on Parliament Hill was a gathering of like-minded individuals seeking sensible cannabis legislation," said Kevin Shae, a 32-year-old recreational marijuana user.

For Shae, that means ensuring the government does not create a "monopoly of the industry" and making sure those with health issues have the access they need to medical marijuana.

Young people and older medicinal users alike were well represented among the expanse of people who stood shoulder-to-shoulder across the west lawn in the heart of the parliamentary precinct. RCMP estimated the turnout numbered in the thousands.

Tyler Graydon, a first-time 4-20 attendee, said he and his friends are "excited" to see pot becoming legal. Graydon, 17, is closing in on the minimum age for legal consumption -- it will vary from province to province, but 18 or 19 seems to be the ballpark, likely following on existing alcohol restrictions.

Graydon, however, doesn't think it will make much difference.

"As soon as it's legalized, it'll be in too many hands to really stop it," he said. "They'll get their hands on it somehow. They'll get it from their parents or from the jar in the cupboard. It won't be hard."

By mid-afternoon, police were reporting a mellow vibe with no incidents.

For Alex Burridge, 20, this year's celebration is a particularly meaningful one -- he just picked up his first prescription for medical marijuana, which he'll use to alleviate back pain from a sports injury. Legalization, he says, has been a long time coming.

"It's something that people have been looking forward to for generations and we're finally on the brink of it. I feel like it's something that puts our country ahead of a lot of others. …

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