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The path to cannabis legalization in Canada is paved with dank intentions.

On October 17, at around 4 p.m., at the Dundas Street West entrance to Trinity Bellwoods Park, you can start to smell the waft of joint smoke curling around you as you head down the paved path leading to the main park. In that five-minute walk, you’ll hear a few big laughs cutting between the sound of flicking lighters. Once you get to the throng of people huddled in hoodies and parkas, the wind whipping harder now, you spot people dancing to techno tunes spun from a DJ booth inside a tent, on the grassy area just before Queen Street West.

It’s a brand new day, but also just like any day.

The air still heavy with cannabis smoke, you begin to feel the commerce side of cannabis legalization, a few minutes shy of 4:20 p.m. A guy hands out business cards for a new cannabis delivery service. “It’s just like Uber but for weed,” he declares, promising takers of those cards 40 percent off their first order. An older man is hawking T-shirts commemorating the historic day. An entrenched ancillary service is proffered to the throng of tokers: a rep from Foodora, the meal delivery service, hands us a 10% discount card. All these delivery services…are cannabis enthusiasts still seen as too lazy to move after a couple bong hits?

They shouldn’t be, judging by this crowd. As the music pumps harder, morerevelers dance and high-five each other. It’s 4:19. One minute until the big smoke-in. Two “cannabis mascots” shake their felt booties between posing for photo-ops: Superbong is exactly that – a Superman-coloured bong with fake cannabis in its bowl. Tokearoo is a fox-dog-hybrid holding a three-foot-long furry “joint”. Everyone tries to snag a selfie with these cartoony characters.

It’s 4:20 and there’s a huge hurrah, but not as big as you’d expect. The park is swirling with too many conversations, too much milling about, and there’s no real ringleader. Maybe that’s the way it should be, for a cannabis party of this size, where around 100 people are gathering to celebrate a day they won’t soon forget, despite the short-term memory loss that cannabis is purported to cause.

The cheers subside as people huddle in their social circles and toke up once more. It again feels like any other day. Maybe it’s because the hype in Ontario is tempered by the lack of community seen in some lineups in cannabis retail stores in Alberta or Nova Scotia. Clicking on the OSC site just doesn’t have the same iconic feeling, those “where were you on 10/17?” shivers.

But it’s an appropriate avenue to go down for 2018, where we order wine glasses off Amazon and frozen yogurt cups from Uber Eats. Is it weird to get teary-eyed when you click Add to Cart, Add to Cart, then Checkout, then, sniff sniff, glory be thy name? Cannabis has just been purchased from a government-run website! Then the day’s news is made even sweeter when the Trudeau government announced it would expedite the processing of pardons for people with minor cannabis-related criminal records. It also didn’t hurt that the Toronto Raptors won their season opener.

Also, as The LeafNews points out, “the dawn of legalization brings with it new movements towards cannabis education.” You might not find that at a party like Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park, but you’ll see it online, in brochures, in full-page ads in Canadian dailies, in the education that many physicians will hopefully gravitate towards in the coming months. Plus, we should expect to see researchers and scientists finally get regular access to cannabis to study it more fruitfully than they ever have before.

There were few hiccups on cannabis-ordering sites or in the long lineups stretching around blocks. No accidents related to cannabis made headlines. What licensed producers and politicians are asking for is patience if some bumps in the road mar the cannabis buying or consuming experiences. After all, if it took us this long to end cannabis prohibition, it might take a bit longer for the plan to go as smoothly as one would hope.

  1. https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/tasker-pot-pardons-limitations-1.4866610
  2. https://www.theleafnews.com/news/legal-pot-well-learn-to-roll-with-it-497878221.html

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