MEDICINE HAT, AB - Today, cannabis users across the planet will be lighting up to celebrate the 'holiday' known as "420".
For those unaware, 420 is a celebration of the history and culture of cannabis and all its uses.
With that, a local group of cannabis-enthusiasts set up shop today at City Hall, with a very unconventional 420 in mind.
The event known as the '420 Cannabis Community Cleanup' was organized by Caelan Hart.
"By going out into the community and publicly consuming cannabis, while we clean up our downtown core, people can see cannabis users doing something positive for the community," explained Hart. "It really helps to shift that paradigm when they see cannabis users making a positive impact on the world around them."
After 15-years of indulging in the world of cannabis, Hart says there are a wealth of negative-stigmas attached to cannabis use, with the most-popular one being laziness.
"If you go all the way back to the reefer madness era in the 1930's-40's, there was even the stigma that cannabis use would make you violent. Back then, there was also a lot of racism around cannabis use that was used to further prohibition and we're still fighting against that today."
But, for someone like Hart who suffers from ADHD, autism and turrets, cannabis allows Hart to live a healthier life and see the positives.
"I was diagnosed and mis-diagnosed a lot as a youth, until they found the proper diagnosis of turrets syndrome, at which point I was off psychiatric medications and swapped primarily on to cannabis. I've seen such a significant improvement in my health over six-years since I weened off my previous medications. It's definitely not for everyone, but it's something they should consider."
Fellow Hatter Matrx Cavasos was also at the cleanup and just like Hart, uses cannabis for medicinal purposes.
"I've been a recreational cannabis user for a long time," said Cavasos. "But, then I injured my back badly and I came across the medicinal use. They told me I'd never walk again, but boy were they wrong. Not only does it help subside the pain, but it helps me avoid risky procedures because all the drugs pharmaceutical companies are offering don't work. So, I was happy that there was something that worked."
And even though it's now being legally celebrated in Canada for the first time, Hart says today is bitter-sweet because there is still a lot of work to do.
"A lot of cannabis users are a little bit sore about the legal recreational market because of the high-prices and low quality," said Hart. "A lot of people are choosing to grow their own, but a lot of people are finding difficulty with that option because a lot of rental units and condo-boards have put bans on growing in places. So, we're really seeing the cannabis legalization that's in place, is really more of a cash grab for a lot of these large licensed producers and corporations, while kind of the people who really need access to cannabis are going ignored."
If you're still unsure about cannabis and its uses, Hart says don't knock it until you try it...or at least properly inform yourself about it.
"If you don't have any prior knowledge of cannabis or you're working with outdated information, just pop online or into the public library and take a peak at what's available now."
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