On Canada Day there are a variety of events held in celebration around the lower mainland and across the nation. One in particular, held in downtown Vancouver, has been held without incident for roughly the last 19 years. On Canada day, traditionally Vancouver will also host an annual Canada Day marijuana protest. This year however, the protest turned violent, when (witnesses say) at least two dozen police officers showed up, and descended upon a group of peaceful protesters with pepper spray and physical force. It is alleged that individual(s) were arrested for selling and possession charges related to cannabis use.
Dan Dicks was on the scene himself and caught some of the action on camera seen in the videos below:
The annual protest is typically held every year, on July 1st outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery. This is also the location where the annual April 20th pro-cannabis rally is held as well. Things are slightly different in Vancouver now however, as a recent vote by the Vancouver council just last week has now made Vancouver the very first city in the nation to regulate storefront pot sales. Upon hearing the news that Vancouver was planning to offer regulations, and in a sense offer recognition to these businesses, the health minister Rona Ambrose responded in saying that she was “deeply disappointed”. In response to the news, she pledged that the Conservative party remained dedicated to keeping this evil plant off the streets, because the government “wants to stop kids from smoking marijuana.” We also don't want any underage drinking to occur, but does that worry stop the public or government from keeping alcohol a legal and regulated substance? The Supreme Court of Canada also recently ruled that Canadians have a right to cannabis edibles, which is another event that upset the health minister. Ambrose was quick in responding to the unanimous court ruling by declaring how “outraged” she was.
Ambrose maintains that the dispensaries in Vancouver and other areas are illegal and that the Conservative government is dedicated to maintaining the fight against this plant. Under the new regulations announced by Vancouver authorities, roughly 60 per cent of present dispensaries are going to be finding themselves with the threat of having to relocate or shut-down. One dispensary has already indicated that they intend to bring the challenge to court. When it comes to the annual rally in Vancouver for Canada Day, police say that they warned organizers on Wednesday morning that people were going to be arrested if they openly sold or gave away cannabis. Following the confrontation with police and the arrest of one activist, it is alleged that angry crowds followed the police down the street and even blocked off Howe Street for a short period of time.
Attendees who are familiar with the event claim that they have never witnessed such a forceful police presence, they say that normally the police are quite peaceful and respectful. Despite the move from many communities and nations around the world to embrace this medicine and to decriminalize or legalize this plant, there still remain many who are adamant about keeping up the self-perpetuating fight against it, one in particular being the Conservative government. The Tories appear to be determined to work against the progress that this country has made against the drug war, and we see it on repeated occasion.
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