While pro-cannabis supporters gathered across the country to celebrate the legalization of marijuana, in Vancouver, a small group of opponents gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery to voice concerns.
The coalition of concerned groups made speeches from the art gallery steps, interrupted at several points by hecklers — at least one of whom got into a tense face-to-face dispute with members of the crowd.
Members of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada, Air We Share and Airspace Action on Smoking and Health called Oct. 17 a “dark day for Canada,” and argued that cannabis will have significant health impacts, particularly on young people.
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Jim Stimson, a licensed therapist and counsellor told Global News he’s seen the potential effects of marijuana firsthand, calling it a contributing factor to the death of his sister who had struggled with addiction.
“Marijuana as a younger person had been her drug of choice, and every time she relapsed, she relapsed to marijuana before she got to other drugs, and eventually it took her life,” he said.
“My concern is we also know when something new is introduced to the public, and it appears by being introduced that [the government] somehow endorses it, it’s not harmful … that the percentage of young people using it increases rapidly, so what is an average age of 12 [for youth to try drugs] now, in three-to-five years could easily be 10 for first-time use.”
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Luke Niforates, chief of staff at Colorado’s Smart Approach to Marijuana, said he believes the Canadian government, police and workplace safety officials are not ready for legalization.
“It moved so fast,” he said.
“We are seeing in Colorado and other states that legalized that the potency of the THC products is up to 99 per cent potency now. We’ve never seen that before, it’s completely unlike what we saw in the ’70s. That’s very concerning. We have no research on what this does to the human mind and human body.”
The coalition announced the launch of a new website on Wednesday for filing complaints about the law and reporting violations at Potwatch.org.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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