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Health

Rain, wind equals no 4-20 blow out for Parliament Hill, but West Coast shines

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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



Alberta

Alberta’s COVID-19 breakthrough – Highest number of tests and lowest number of new cases in one day

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Dr. Deena Hinshaw

It certainly appears to be a sign that the first wave of COVID-19 is abating.  Friday, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer reported 6,455 people were tested over the last 24 hours and there were only 7 new positive cases.   This resulted in a very interesting video update from Dr. Deena Hinshaw as the province announced several changes that will be resulting from the success of Alberta’s battle with COVID-19.

Albertans will soon be able to visit loved ones in hospital.  The province will continue to move toward protecting Albertans at the highest risk of severe outcomes.  That means more freedoms for the majority of Albertans as the province prepares to announce Stage 2 details early next week.

 

‘Just went crazy:’ Group gets lots of interest in random camping on public land

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Community

Quitting gave me better health, my dignity and more cash

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Quitting gave me better health, my dignity and more cash

I had this terrible constant cough. It was like I had a cold that never went away. When I did actually get a cold it was like I was never getting any better. I also began noticing that when I would cough I would release a small amount of urine. After a while as the cough progressed the urine would come out in larger quantities. I could no longer wear just a panty liner I was wearing full sized extra absorbent pads. When I was out with family and friends having a good time, I would laugh and start choking uncontrollably forcing so much urine out that I would wet through my pants and have to go home. Even if I just went to the bathroom I would still wet myself. I thought at 38 I would be in Depends.

I had thought about quitting smoking many times but I think stress was my number one deterrent from quitting. Every time I was gonna try, something would cause me stress, I had myself tricked into thinking that smoking was the only way I could deal with stress. Stress came from everywhere, work home and finances.

I tried to quit before on two occasions however, I was not successful on either one.  The first time I used the patch, but couldn’t break the habit. The second time was with Champix and I was smoke-free for approximately 2 and a half months when I said to a friend that smokes that I was having a craving.  She said sometimes you just need one to take the edge off and gave me a cigarette. I stopped and bought a pack on my way home.

This time I used the Champix again. I stopped constant communication with friends and family who smoke. I misplaced the last 2 weeks of the Champix program and had no clue where the pills went, but I just keep telling myself I can do it. When I have a craving I give myself something to do so I don’t think about it- shift the focus. Also in the past I noticed that when I have cigarettes I don’t crave as much and when I was almost out or out, I smoked what I had quickly or felt like I was dying until I could get some. My other secret is I still have an opened package of cigarettes to help curb cravings. I don’t want to get rid of them or I’ll want them.

Now, I feel like I can breathe better, smell better and everything tastes better. That nasty constant cough was gone about 2 weeks after I quit. I still have a bit of a cough but no longer pee when I cough. I hated the life that whenever I coughed I peed. All I had to do was stop smoking. I can laugh and enjoy myself without choking. It’s amazing! I wish I never started smoking. I used to use a ton of salt on my food now I can enjoy a meal without any salt, food tastes so much better. When a smoker is sitting next to me I don’t want to be rude but they stink so bad I gag. I feel so bad that my boyfriend had to smell that on me every day.

I suggest any smoker Quits! If there is anything you can change about yourself for the better its quit smoking. I wish I would have the first time because my health was heading on a downward slope and now I feel more alive and energetic like I was when I was a kid. Distance yourself from others who smoke or that aren’t supportive. I started the Champix late December 2019 and started back at school on January 6, 2020. I said I wouldn’t smoke on that day but I did have just one, so January 7, 2020 became my quit date. It was hard at first but I stuck it out and I am glad I did. The PCN Family Nurse gave me good advice and support; I really appreciate that!

Read more success stories from the Primary Care Network.

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june, 2020

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