Montrealers light up for 420 with legalization on the horizon
Police were on hand at Mount Royal pot celebration but officers exercised 'tolerance' toward attendees
Montrealers flocked to Mount Royal this afternoon to mark 420, the counterculture event devoted to celebrating and consuming marijuana.
Around 1,000 pot activists gathered at the Sir Georges-Étienne Cartier monument in Mount Royal Park as thousands of Canadians took part in similar 420 events across the country.
Like years before, loud cheers and plumes of smoke billowed into the air as 4:20 p.m. rolled around.
Lots of music and smiles at #420 today at Mount Royal Park <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/mtl?src=hash">#mtl</a> <a href="https://t.co/hDBS80utAM">pic.twitter.com/hDBS80utAM</a>—@jbernstien
What sets today's celebration apart, however, is that it comes exactly one week after the federal government tabled a bill to legalize cannabis by July 2018.
While some participants said they welcomed legalization, they also said the bill misses the mark in some ways, including not pardoning those charged or who face charges for possession of cannabis.
"It should be legalized in a completely different way," said Ray Turmel.
"I think legalization should be like tomatoes — it should be legal for anyone, anywhere, any time."
While possession of cannabis is still illegal, Montreal police officers on hand at Mount Royal exercised "tolerance" toward those lighting up this afternoon, the force said in a statement today.
Hurdles in Quebec
While Canadians seem to generally welcome the legalization of cannabis, the Quebec government said Ottawa's plan falls short on details and funding.
Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott fired back in an opinion article published in La Presse on Thursday, writing that the legislation was "not a burden" to the country's provinces.
This group is protesting for amnesty for ppl who've been charged / are going through courts for possession charges <a href="https://t.co/i1NtjwhbqT">pic.twitter.com/i1NtjwhbqT</a>—@jbernstien
As outlined in the bill, the federal government will determine most of the rules but it will be up to the provinces and territories to set the price for marijuana and decide how it will be distributed and sold.
Quebec is expected to work alongside Ontario to develop an approach to legalized marijuana.
With files from Jaela Bernstien