Pot Café in N.B. Inspires Montreal Activists
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Author: John MacFarlane, The Gazette
Published: Sunday, April 06, 2003
Copyright: 2003 The Gazette, a division of Southam Inc.
Contact: [email protected]
Saint John shop lets patrons light up. Leader of Bloc Pot party says he aims to open a boutique by 2007 that sells marijuana here
Montreal advocates of marijuana legalization say recent national developments can only help local efforts to legalize weed.
On April 1, a Nova Scotia court became the third in Canada to throw out marijuana possession laws. Two days later, a Saint John, N.B., café that allows customers to smoke marijuana opened to the public.
"This opens a door in Quebec," said Dylan Maxwell, owner of the Je l'ai boutique, a Duluth Ave. store specializing in hemp products and pot-related paraphernalia. "It's another question whether someone would (open a similar café here). You can only make money selling coffee at these places." Selling marijuana is still illegal.
Montreal had an underground cannabis café in the 80s, said Maxwell, which was shut soon after it decided to operate in the open. But things have changed considerably since then.
"The difference now is that there is no more Canadian possession law," Maxwell said.
The pro-marijuana crowd has traditionally had a hard time finding respect. The media are often all too eager to trot out hackneyed gags about memory loss and snack-food cravings, rather than noting the genuine progress made by the movement, such as recent court decisions.
The Bloc Pot is fielding candidates in nearly half of Quebec's ridings in the provincial election. And in the 2000 federal election, the Montreal-headquartered Marijuana Party took 0.5 per cent of the total national vote and one per cent of the total in Quebec.
Bloc Pot leader Hugo St-Onge said he hopes to open at least one marijuana café in Montreal within four years - one that will go further than New Brunswick's "user-friendly" establishment and actually sell weed.
Maxwell said he was surprised - pleasantly surprised - that the pioneer establishment of the current era of de facto decriminalization sprouted up in New Brunswick, given that Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto are considered more marijuana-friendly.
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