Dust-up over medical marijuana at Calgary Stampede points to legalization challenges
Vicky Penny was initially barred from entering the grounds with her prescription
A Calgary woman who has a prescription for medical marijuana was recently refused entry into the Calgary Stampede while carrying the drug.
After discussing the issue with her at length, Stampede organizers relaxed their policy and allowed Vicky Penny to bring the marijuana in, but told her not to smoke it on site.
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It raises questions about permitting medical marijuana at large events and what the Stampede will do next year when recreational use is expected to be legal.
"People can smoke a cigarette, which will kill them and make them unhealthy, but I can't smoke my medicine which will make me healthier, right?" Penny said.
"So it's really kind of up in the air right, and he said, 'It's because it's illegal.' So how that's going to look next year?"
Held up for two hours at gate
Penny says on July 11, she told security staff at the gate to the Stampede grounds that she had medical marijuana on her, along with a prescription.
She said she spent two hours negotiating with security and management, saying it was her right as a person with a disability to carry the drug.
"I was embarrassed, I was angry, I was frustrated," she said.
Stampede spokesperson Larry Lalonde says many guests don't want weed at the yearly event, which will present a whole new challenge next July, when recreational use is expected to be legalized.
"We are one of the first big events to come out after that becomes legal, so we gotta kinda balance that and see what others are doing and come up with an approach that will hopefully work for everyone," Lalonde said.
Penny was given four free passes to apologize for initially barring her from the grounds, Lalonde added.
Carried, but not consumed
Both the City of Calgary and the Alberta government are in the process of trying to determine what to do when recreational marijuana becomes legal.
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Until July 31, the public can give feedback to the provincial government on where the drug should be allowed and where it should be restricted.
For now, Lalonde said the Stampede will permit medicinal marijuana to be carried on the grounds, but not used or consumed.
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With files from Kate Adach