OTTAWA — It was a blow out, man, the kind that’s a total drag.
Protesters dotted one half of Parliament Hill’s front lawn on a blustery, rainy Saturday at the climax the first 4-20 “Weed Day” demonstration since Canada legalized recreational marijuana.
The turnout disappointed organizers who expected thousands more, but a festive atmosphere prevailed as the Peace Tower clock struck 4:20 p.m., sparking simultaneous smart phone photography and the lighting of joints, bongs and pipes.
“The weather didn’t co-operate. It kind of shut us down,” Shawn Mac, a program director for 4-20 Ottawa, said moments earlier. “Coming and going, we’ve probably seen about 3,000, but right now, probably about a thousand.”
A bout of blowing rain earlier in the afternoon meant the shutdown of a public address system, and a made for a sparse gathering of perhaps several dozen people, most huddled under plastic ponchos or tarps.
Sara Bakir, 29, of Ottawa was one of early arrivals, dressed in a dark hoodie under a black umbrella.
“It’s still nice to be out with a few like-minded people,” she said laughing, and casting her eyes at the empty and soaked brownish yellow lawn.
Organizers learned a tough lesson even before the rain started falling — new freedoms bring great bureaucracy.
Mac said his group is encountering more red tape Saturday than on past April 20 protests.
Organizers can’t use the steps to the now-closed Centre Block, which means spectators will need a front row position on the lawn to see or hear — something Mac calls a “huge letdown.”
“Hearing is already a problem so not being able to see is a crushing blow,” he said.
Organizers have also been told to limit musical performers to just two, Mac said, adding that isn’t in the rules of how to hold a public event on the Hill.
New limits on auto access also meant organizers had to haul equipment and material by hand up to the lawn from Wellington Street, he added.
“It’s frustrating because legalization was supposed to … make things easier and not more complicated,” he said.
Lingering post-legalization concerns are sustaining a sense of protest among 4-20 event organizers across the country.
They include concerns over the government’s decision to tax medicinal marijuana, slow progress on legislation to expedite pardons for people previously convicted of simple pot possession, and the fact that provincial and municipal governments are grappling with retail sales and land-use laws for growing pot.
The federal government also has yet to legalize edible marijuana products and has six more months to set rules to do so.
“Everything about legalization has made things harder, which is the opposite of what is was supposed to be,” said Mac.
Others were more upbeat and saw Saturday’s event as an inspiration to the world.
“Again, the world is watching, and I’m very proud of Canada today and Canadians,” said Kelly Coulter, a cannabis policy adviser based in British Columbia.
She said Canada is helping change global attitudes and policies as the first G7 nation to legalize pot, and she expected people from Germany and Britain to take part in Saturday’s festivities on the Hill.
It was a far cry from Ottawa’s subdued festivities on the West Coast, as hoards of people crowded Vancouver’s Sunset Beach to mark the city’s 25th annual 4-20 event warmed by rays of glorious spring sunshine amid a low lying marijuana haze.
A much smaller crowd gathered at the front lawn of British Columbia’s legislature in Victoria, but the mood was equally celebratory and defiant.
“Today, in many ways, is bittersweet for us,” said long-time marijuana activist Ted Smith, who led the countdown chant to 4:20 p.m. in Victoria. “We’re happy it’s legalized, sure, but there’s a lot of things to protest.”
Smith, in between puffs from a large joint, said the current marijuana rules are biased against entrepreneurs who want to sell their products in much the same way as craft brewers and winemakers.
And a downpour didn’t dampen the festivities at Woodbine Park in Toronto’s east end, where revellers trampled through the muddy grass to the steady thrum of house music.
Cannabis artisans sold their wares at tarp-covered stands, many expressing hope that they could one day emerge from the “grey market” to set up shop at brick-and-mortar storefronts.
Justin Loizos, owner of the Just Compassion marijuana dispensary in Toronto, said the mood Saturday was more celebratory than in past 4-20 gatherings, which felt more like protests.
The current regime may not be the “legalization people asked for,” Loizos said, but the cannabis community should take heart in just how far Canada has come.
“I see a lot of people complaining, whatever — don’t,” he said. “We’re just going to celebrate here and enjoy the day.”
— with files from Adina Bresge and Dirk Meissner.
Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
German Fitness Trainer Finds Himself Stuck in Calgary – And Making the Best of It!
Cultures collide as COVID-19’s descent on the world leaves personal trainer global adventurer Darian Bessell stuck in Calgary.
Originally from Germany, Darian has been travelling the world for the last year and a half, landing in Canada in February with plans to stay and work for a year. After getting all his permits in place and obtaining a work visa, he was hired by one of the major gyms in Calgary as a personal trainer. Unfortunately, he was immediately laid off after COVID-19 hit the city.
Seeing the situation as an opportunity to strike out on his own, Darian began offering his services as a personal trainer online, offering free consultations by Zoom or in person. His first client, Matt Keay, connected with Darian during his search for a way to improve health and mobility as well as mental wellbeing in his demanding role as a CEO.
“I look over at my two-year-old daughter and she’ll be holding a squat position playing with toys for nearly an hour, totally natural for her,” says Keay, “why can’t I do that?” Keay suffers from sore hips and wrists due to years of abuse from skateboarding and poor diet. This proves difficult, as his role as a leader demands high performance and consistent energy.
“I’ve got training every day with Darian … well, it’s more like all day long,” says Matt, “I’ve heard people say how fitness is a lifestyle, well I really understand that now. I am standing more at my desk, doing more stretches, busting into a squat in the boardroom and the pain I’ve dealt with for years is melting away.”
Darian Bessell, newly appointed Business on Camera Director of Physical and Mental Health will bring health and wellness to high-performance entrepreneurs in Calgary. “The knowing-doing gap is a worldwide common issue,” offers Bessell, “people know that enjoying nuts as a snack is healthier than a chocolate bar, and they know the way they feel physically could be better. Often some simple support tools to improve mobility can have a huge impact on overall fitness and hold the key to a new healthy lifestyle.”
The human body sends signals that it is in poor condition by aching and demonstrating discomfort. The mind also sends signals, for example, feeling depressed or tired all the time. Most people know that they have to change something, but it is all too easy to get caught up in routines and maintain bad habits.
“Most people have the desire to do more for their mental and physical health, so why not just do it then?”
Health and fitness is one of the most flooded industries on the market with new gadgets, diets and methods constantly emerging, leaving no shortage of options when it comes to personal health.
“Choosing to work with Darian was based on the education he had regarding the symbioses between mental health and physical performance, nutrition and mobility. He often referred to a program created by Dr. Kelly Starrett called “Becoming a Supple Leopard,” continues Keay, “a ton of professional athletes and stunt actors are Supple Leopards; I would describe it as intentional and intuitive. For me at this time, the goal is to feel better everywhere, increase mobility, energy, and mood in under thirty minutes a day.”
Darian’s goal is to help individuals overcome the disconnect between desire and action by cultivating discipline and a strong commitment to health and happiness in his clients. “People have to take a huge step to get over the gap between knowing what is good for them and really having the discipline to do it,” says Bessell, “Human beings get used to things so fast and fall into a cycle of ‘I need to do something about that’, then continue to ignore it, and fall into the deep hole between knowing and doing.”
Darian gives people that much-needed kick in the butt. By helping clients reposition their approach to fitness and replace negative habits with positive changes, his program addresses physical and mental wellbeing, leaving clients feeling better than ever. “Other benefits include better sleep, more focus and better work-life balance,” says Darian, “it is all about implementing a holistic approach to health to get your body in an efficient, healthy position, and maintain it with intentional practice.”
Keay is thrilled with his results and excited to see where the program takes him. “I am constantly paying attention to my body now,” he says, “the way I sit, the way I walk, engaging my core, doing a squat instead of bending over to pick something up…it’s really had a tremendous impact on my ability to move properly, and we’re just getting started.”
Darian can be reached by phone at 403-478-3836 or [email protected]
For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.
The future of our pandemic – COVID-19 isn’t going away
What does a COVID-19 survey of Major League Baseball employees have to do with our pandemic lockdown here in Canada? Tons! This interview with Dr. Jay Bhattacharaya of Standord University is packed full of information that will answer many of the questions we have about how long this battle against COVID-19 is going to last. It also sheds light on the effectiveness of our province and nation-wide lockdowns.
How effective is the lockdown? When should lockdowns be lifted? What will happen as lockdowns are lifted? Will there ‘ever’ be an effective vaccine? How widespread is COVID-19 in our general population? Should we try to achieve “herd immunity”? This fascinating interview is a must see by anyone who wants to understand what we’re up against.
Dr. Jay Bhattacharaya from Stanford Medicine makes his third appearance on Uncommon Knowledge in eight weeks, this time to discuss a new COVID-19 survey of Major League Baseball employees he co-authored. The survey tested more than 5,600 employees across all 30 Major League Baseball clubs. The results are yet another data set showing how COVID-19 spreads across geographical and economic lines. Dr. Bhattacharya also discusses the very real health risks associated with a prolonged lockdown and answers some of the questions raised by his last survey of Santa Clara County.
Jay Bhattacharya is a Professor of Medicine at Stanford University. He is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research, a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, and at the Stanford Freeman Spogli Institute. He holds courtesy appointments as Professor in Economics and in Health Research and Policy. He directs the Stanford Center on the Demography of Health and Aging. Dr. Bhattacharya’s research focuses on the economics of health care around the world with a particular emphasis on the health and well-being of vulnerable populations. Dr. Bhattacharya’s peer-reviewed research has been published in economics, statistics, legal, medical, public health, and health policy journals. He holds an MD and PhD in economics from Stanford University.
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