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Edmonton cannabis users 'leery' about legalization

420 revelers aren't all that excited about recent federal government announcements.

Paige Brummet, who is on the board of directors for Edmonton-based non-profit United Cannabis Coalition.

Kevin Tuong / Metro Order this photo

Paige Brummet, who is on the board of directors for Edmonton-based non-profit United Cannabis Coalition.

A newfound sense of empowerment met with an air of cynicism at the annual 420 gathering on the Alberta legislature grounds Thursday. 

While cannabis seedlings were handed out for free and at least one dispensary advertised openly, participants were cautious to rejoice over recent announcements from the federal government that will see marijuana legalized by July 2018. 

“I’m a little leery and we’re just kind of watching and seeing what they’re doing,” said Paige Brummet, who is on the board of directors for Edmonton-based non-profit United Cannabis Coalition. “We’re here to fight.”

The coalition showed up with about 40 potted cannabis seedlings and one fully-grown plant on proud display, which Brummet said was low in psychoactive THC but high in CBD, which serves various medical purposes.

The group encouraged people to take the “Dream Seeds,” acquired from Dana Larsen’s Overgrow Canada Tour, and plant them freely. 

“We’re using this plant to normalize it. It’s only a plant, it’s not going to harm anyone. It’s just like any other thing you grow in a garden,” Brummet said. 

Bradley Graham started the Capital City Cannabis dispensary after a traumatic event in early 2016. He said he was shot twice when his home was broken into, and he suffered through post-traumatic stress disorder and a long physical recovery. 

Doctors recommended a cocktail of pills, but Graham found cannabis helped him the most. The problem was, it was hard to find a reliable, high-quality source of the strains he needed.

“We really wanted to change that. But being in such a conservative province, it’s a real uphill battle,” Graham said. 

He hopes to operate a storefront when it’s fully legal, but isn’t confident he’ll be able to any time soon. 

Graham criticized the federal government’s announcement last week that included some harsher penalties around marijuana, calling the legalization process a “complete farce.”

Aaron Bott, whose former Edmonton dispensary was raided and shut down by police in 2015, said he was disappointed by the “fear mongering” of recent federal announcements and said new regulations will only “trip up” the existing cannabis industry. 

He is taking solace, however, in the fact that much of the regulatory power is being handed over to the provinces. 

“I truly believe that Alberta is going to be better than B.C. when it comes to legalization. Because we believe in this free and fair market,” Bott said. 

“We have to do this right, no matter how you look at it. It’s not Cheech and Chong winning the fight. It’s winning a thing that could change the world.”

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