Marijuana advocates planning to raise awareness

Proponents of medical marijuana are planning a rally in Penticton as the issue makes its way through federal and local governments.

A rally in Penticton is scheduled for Sept. 4 to raise awareness of medical marijuana.

A rally in Penticton is scheduled for Sept. 4 to raise awareness of medical marijuana.

Proponents of medical marijuana are planning a rally in Penticton as the issue makes its way through federal and local governments.

A rally is being held at Gyro Park on Sept. 4 at 2 p.m. Anyone with an interest is invited to attend and the rally hopes to raise awareness and promote facts surrounding the issue.

“We’re hoping to raise awareness around the benefits, why we chose (medical marijuana) and why there’s a community of people that would like to have this as a choice,” said Jo Scofield, a Penticton resident and medical marijuana advocate. “You can chose not to (use medical marijuana) just as equally, but we’d like that right to be acknowledged.”

Scofield said she is a third-year anthropology student who is transferring to school in the Okanagan, as well as a blogger. Scofield uses medicinal marijuana for pain management in relation to serious injuries she suffered.

“The recent legislation that suggests a federal program hasn’t benefitted provincial patients,” Scofield said. “There seems to be a public misconception that the legislation being passed benefits all patients. So we’d like to raise awareness that it doesn’t and the need for a provincial program.”

The issue is high on the agenda for the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in September.

Penticton city council is still in the midst of a 60-day inquiry into local regulations after shutting the doors of three local dispensaries, as they look to cities like Victoria and Vancouver which have adopted local regulations.(read more: Penticton shuts down pot shops)

Vernon council voted down a proposal to develop its own bylaw regulating dispensaries. A staff report advised councillors that business licences have not been issued because storefront sales remain illegal in Canada. (read more: Vernon won’t restrict pot shops)

“I’m hopeful that the landscape for this issue will change dramatically in less than a year. I’m hopeful that by raising awareness for the need for a provincial program, even something in the interim, that provincial patients aren’t denied medical products which, by becoming available, increase their quality of life. So, it’s about equality of access,” Scofield said.

Scofield said she is currently in the process of putting together facts for suggested provincial legislation, and hoping to crowdsource feedback and suggestions on prospective laws that will be proposed to the province.

“That will be a combination and adaptation of existing legislation around tobacco regulation and pharmaceutical advertising,” Scofield said.

Nelson recently saw its eighth pot store open without a business license as it considers similar regulations as well.

-With files from Tom Fletcher.