For the first time a 4/20 celebration, rather than a protest, was held at Galt Gardens with pot lovers having reason to applaud a little louder this year as the government moves towards legalization.
Instead of a protest on the steps of city hall, many gathered for what was more like a party than a rally.
“Last year, we were just at city hall. We did a little march around,” participant Craig Rodgers said. “This year, we’ve got all the bands, we’ve got the food vendors, and I think it’s a great step up for putting the word out.”
Just last week, the Liberals introduced the Cannabis Act. If passed, it will establish a strict legal framework.
It’s the first step towards making it legal for Canadians 18 years and older to grow, buy and use recreational marijuana as early as July of next year.
“I think it’s a great idea. There’s lots of medical benefits and lots more people using it,” participant Chad Paquette said. “It seems like it would be better that money goes somewhere else rather than a bad place like drug dealers.”
“I have ADHD and sleeping disorders so weed helps me because I have those things,” another participant Jasmine Delrizzo said.
In the past, pot has been smoked during the protests.
Lethbridge police released a statement saying they can’t ignore illegal activity, and offences will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Event organizer Fiona Doherty hopes the celebration will help change perceptions of pot users in Southern Alberta.
“Every year that we have these events, it works us a little further towards acceptance as part of the community at large,” she said. “Every year we have one of these events, it normalizes us within the community.”
The event also played host to local artists, federal Liberal party candidate Mike Pyne and other guest speakers.
The festivities are part of a larger coast-to-coast celebration, something many are hoping will set a precedent for what’s to come.