4/20 sees marijuana advocates light up at Manitoba legislature
'We haven't won yet,' says Winnipeg pot advocate
The Manitoba Legislative Building grounds became a little hazy Wednesday, as marijuana advocates and enthusiasts lit up for the annual event known as 4/20.
Held across North America and beyond on April 20, the annual event began as a protest against the criminalization of marijuana. The designated time for lighting up is 4:20 p.m., but many smoke pot on the legislature grounds throughout the day.
Police escorted a march through downtown Winnipeg to the legislative ground, where there were guest speakers, musicians, giveaways, a silent auction and street vendors and food trucks from noon until 5 p.m.
The meaning of 4/20 is taking a new turn in recent years, especially with the Canadian government on track to legalize marijuana, says Winnipeg marijuana advocate Steven Stairs.
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"Over the years, 4/20 has definitely been emerging from a protest to a more celebratory atmosphere. And I think when pot becomes finally legalized, we will definitely turn it into a celebration," he said.
At the same time, Stairs said he believes 4/20 won't be going away.
"Right now it is more celebratory, but we haven't won yet. I mean, people are still going to jail, people are still being arrested, people are still losing their jobs and their families for pot, and until that stops, we'll still be here."
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In a speech to a special session of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Health Minister Jane Philpott said legislation to legalize marijuana in Canada would be introduced in spring 2017.
Premier-designate Brian Pallister said he'll work with the federal Liberal government on instituting the law but he has concerns.
"I have a friend who lost his friend on graduation night. He never had a drink — he was at a safe grad. But he was definitely smoking. So it's a concern. It's a concern for parents, it's a concern for all ... that this be done properly," Pallister said.
The pro-marijuana demonstration in Winnipeg took place just metres away from Pallister's first post election press conference at the legislature.
The 4/20 moniker dates back to the pot culture of California in the early 1970s, but it became formally attached to April 20 when a group of Vancouver activists held the first day-long rally in 1995.