October 17 should’ve been a celebratory day. After more than a century,
cannabis prohibition in Canada finally came to an end. But while herb lovers around the globe are hailing it as a sign that their favorite plant is finally shedding undeserved stigma, many of the people who fought for legalization feel utterly neglected.
The Canadian cannabis community is now calling the country’s legalization plan “Prohibition 2.0.” They wanted to be recognized: their businesses to be deemed legitimate by the federal government and their records to be cleared. Instead, they say, they’re watching as the government and corporations monopolize on the new recreational market, leaving no room for them and
doing nothing about their convictions for selling a plant which will now be a legal, multi-billion dollar industry. This isn’t what they wanted; this isn’t what they fought for; and they’re not giving up. “Now, the government’s going to be selling weed to us which is kind of every pothead’s worst nightmare. We’ve been prosecuted and thrown in jail and cops have come up to us and looked into our eyes and said ‘are you high?’ for years. Some of those things are going away, but a lot aren’t and that’s why we have to keep protesting.” – Daron Rutter, cannabis activist (Photography by Georgia Love for Herb) “You now can get 14 years for a lot of supposed cannabis crimes. I thought it was going to go in the other direction, like from six years down to three or maybe no jail time and a fine, but, no it’s going up. And there’s a lot of crimes that weren’t crimes before. If your neighbor sees your weed—even if it’s legal weed—if they see it through your window or through your fence, you can go to jail for three months and six months, the second time, and so on.” – Daron Rutter, cannabis activist (Photography by Georgia Love for Herb) “Honestly, we started this protest five years ago. We had 500 plants and our goal was to grow for medical patients for free. We gave away 6500 clones in a matter of 21 days, we were here 24/7, every single day for that period. The cops came at the end of those 21 days. They took all of our tents, all of our tables, all of our cannabis, everything that we could possibly imagine except for the plants. When they went for the plants, eight of us stood against 17 cops and 14 city workers and we told them if they touched the plants, we’d fight them in court and they’d have to make arrests. And they left that day. Twenty-six days later they gassed our plants—they called them ‘produce that went bad.’ So we traveled the city, we went everywhere we possibly could. When we came back here, we came back here with protestors. We came back here with supporters and we made Robson Square a free market space for about a year. That was seven months ago. Seven months ago, we got raided here, $4000 and 20 pounds of pot were taken off the block.” – Dillon McArdle, cannabis activist (Photography by Georgia Love for Herb) “This is a safe use zone, anyone who wants to come and smoke weed here, come and smoke weed here. We’ll fight for you like we’ll fight for us.” – Dillon McArdle, cannabis activist (Photography by Georgia Love for Herb) “When I was 14, I was playing hockey and I had a concussion, broke a few bones. My arm, my rib cage, and a fractured knee. I started using cannabis to cope with the pain. From the age of 14 till I was 19, I was arrested at least four times a year for possession of marijuana.” – Chris Reekie aka. Kid Cannabis, cannabis activist. (Photography by Georgia Love for Herb) “My brother’s been in for about six months. He has at least a year left. He was caught with two pounds of marijuana and also a bunch of edibles which he made for himself and he was charged with the trafficking of cannabis.” – Chris Reekie aka. Kid Cannabis, cannabis activist. (Photography by Georgia Love for Herb) “There appears to be a corporate, monopoly takeover on the part of the government of the cannabis industry, culture, and the plant itself. People have wanted an end to prohibition since the 70s and a repeal of bad laws so nobody is going to jail for smoking cannabis, but now we have even worse prohibition than we had before, ironically.” – MediKatie, cannabis activist (Photography by Georgia Love for Herb) “I predicted that they weren’t going to be offering amnesty for prior crimes and that’s basically the case. The amnesty is so small, it’s for petty crimes, 30 grams and under, which since the 90s shouldn’t have been crimes at all. Basically we’re getting too little, too late.” – MediKatie, cannabis activist (Photography by Georgia Love for Herb)