Dalton owns Shop 420 on King Street East near downtown Kitchener, which sells marijuana paraphernalia and also helps people apply for licences to use marijuana legally as a medical aid. She was at a demonstration in Victoria Park on Friday afternoon to urge that marijuana use be legal for everyone.
Dalton said her aunt and brother both have licences for medical marijuana. Her brother gets tense and inattentive at times and even the school principal tells him to medicate himself, she said. Afterwards, she said, "he’s a totally different person" and overall "his grades have gone up," she said.
Dalton was one of about 60 people who rallied in Kitchener’s Victoria Park – and thousands across Canada, from Vancouver to Ottawa – to urge that marijuana be legalized. Friday was April 20, which has become an international rallying day for marijuana users.
Police said several people had their pot seized during the local protests but only one charge was laid, against a teenager. Another man was also charged in the park with marijuana possession, but he wasn’t part of the demonstration.
Marijuana is often thought of as a "gateway" drug that will lead its users on to harder and more dangerous stuff – but Dalton and others say that the pharmaceutical painkiller drugs like OxyContin and Percocet are the real gateway drugs because they are so addictive.
"Then you end up on methadone," she said.
Other demonstrators pointed out the cost to society of policing marijuana use and the underground crime world that provides, distributes and sells it.
George "Koz" Kenny said he started smoking pot in Grade 9 and has been in and out of prison ever since. He said he is deeply troubled when he drinks alcohol, but when he smokes marijuana "I never get in trouble.
"Why do I have to be a burden on the system?" he asked. "Why can’t I smoke weed?"