New era dawns as cannabis becomes legal

The Canadian Press
October 17, 2018
By The Canadian Press
Canadians are waking to a seismic cultural shift as nearly a century of marijuana prohibition ends across the country today.

Recreational use is now legal — a once radical notion that for many, like longtime Toronto advocate Robin Ellins, is a stunning concept he’s still trying to wrap his head around.

The co-founder of the paraphernalia shop The Friendly Stranger is inviting jubilant tokers to celebrate at a morning “wake and bake” at his shop, offering free burritos and coffee to the earliest arrivals. Later, shop events will include a barbecue, DJs, artist demonstrations and product giveaways. And throughout, there will be a legal spot to smoke weed.

It’s just one of several unbridled celebrations unfolding across the country as longtime advocates tout changing mores and greater acceptance amid mainstream society, bolstered by unrelenting hype from entrepreneurs heady from the possible green rush of a budding new market.

For others, there are uncertainties over legal, workplace, health and social implications. There will be bumps along the road, experts caution.

University of Guelph sociology professor Andrew Hathaway notes that not everyone is happy with legalization, and that includes many advocates who complain the new regulations amount to “prohibition 2.0”.

Nevertheless, he says the significance of Canada becoming the first G7 country to legalize the drug is big.

“First gay marriage and now legalizing cannabis,” he says, noting that in contrast so much of the rest of the world is shifting towards the right in politics.

Ellins says his day-long plans for Wednesday are the culmination of “years and years and years of hard work.”

“Canada is going to be a leader in the cannabis industry and I think we’re going to set an example to the world as to how this should be done,” says Ellins, whose shop is a mainstay of Toronto’s trendy Queen Street West shopping strip.

“We’re actually normalizing cannabis use which is a big deal, it really is.”

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2018

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