After nearly a decade of fighting for legalized marijuana, Kim MacNearney is finally moving from protest mode to celebration mode as the drug became available in the North, Oct. 17.
Yellowknifer spotted MacNearney at the Liquor Shop, the sole retail distributor for Yellowknife after a $26.66 purchase of preroll joints of Indica and Banana Split. After the purchase Wednesday, MacNearney went to the legislative assembly to listen to MLAs speak to the issue before hanging out downtown to wish people happy legalization day.
“I feel amazing and I think it is like a dream,” she said happily. “I can’t even believe it is reality. I didn’t think the day would come and that it just would be a medical push for a long time. To be fully legal, I didn’t expect that. It is the end of an amazing push by lots of people.”
MacNearney has been a leading advocate for legalized cannabis since she and her husband Craig were charged for growing multiple pot plants at their home in 2009. The couple were convicted in 2014 of growing marijuana. Since then, she has become the poster person locally for the push to end prohibition. She has been known for heading the annual and local 4/20 protest since 2012 and starting her own marijuana consultation business called Beyond 420.
She doesn’t hold grudges from her experience, but looking back, she is appreciative that the change did eventually come.
“To be persecuted for something so intensely and then to finally have a societal switch. I almost want to be like – ‘I told you that it wasn’t that bad’ or ‘You treated me like a dirtbag and it wasn’t that bad.’
“The other part of me is not quite an ‘I told you so,’ because I’m just glad that no one ever has to go through what I went through.”
MacNearney said as an activist, she has tried to be as positive as possible and has been slow to criticize as the GNWT worked through the process of legalizing the drug. Even at the Liquor Shop, she noted the price was on the high end, but stated that she was likely paying a price that reflected the quality of the product.
“I’ve really noticed people being negative about it, whether it is the general public or activists, people are picking it apart,” she said, noting for example, complaints about how much one can grow or carry. She admits she is also critical of some of the fines and jail time that is included, however, she said being aware of the bigger picture is important.
“I am not going to let that cast a shadow on the fact we are in the middle of a massive fundamental shift with regards to cannabis, prohibition and cannabis awareness,” she said. “There is no away around that because prohibition is never good.”
MacNearney is looking forward to the implications of legalization which include growing business opportunities and less apprehension among medical users about trying it for medicinal therapy.
“(Removing that stigma) is probably the biggest thing because people who have been curious about its potential medical benefits will be far more willing to come out and try it. At its base, it is a plant that has medicinal qualities.”
She also notes that with the acceptance of cannabis for recreational users, it will allow for a professionalization of its sale, with specialists being able to freely communicate the best types of marijuana to suit specific needs.
– with files from Dylan Short