Olympic athlete pushes for pot gold

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VANCOUVER – Athlete Ross Rebagliati says he’s been waiting 17 years for marijuana to go mainstream, and he’s convinced the issue is so hot that politicians will be forced to address legalization in the upcoming federal election.

The Olympic gold medallist, who has since started his own medical pot brand, says the pro-pot movement is only growing stronger, but admits hurdles remain.

The Canadian Press, 2015 Ross Rebagliati listens to a reporter's question during a press conference in Vancouver Wednesday, August 2, 2006. Rebagliati says he's been waiting 17 years for marijuana to go mainstream, and he's convinced the issue is so hot that politicians will be forced to address legalization in the upcoming federal election. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Richard Lam
The Canadian Press, 2015
Ross Rebagliati listens to a reporter’s question during a press conference in Vancouver Wednesday, August 2, 2006. Rebagliati says he’s been waiting 17 years for marijuana to go mainstream, and he’s convinced the issue is so hot that politicians will be forced to address legalization in the upcoming federal election. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Richard Lam

“This election will make a difference,” he said Tuesday, a day after thousands celebrated cannabis’ biggest day, 4/20.

“This is an opportunity right now not only for political parties to open their eyes to the necessity of cannabis, not only for the people as a medicine, but now also as a political platform.

“It’s become such a hot topic that they just have to address it.”

Rebagliati spent the day devoted to weed at a booth in downtown Toronto promoting his company, which hasn’t actually obtained licences to sell the drug yet.

He said now is the moment to educate and advocate about something cannabis users have believed for years.

“Now that the scientific research is out there, it’s time to get that in front of normal Canadians, normal people around the world,” he said.

“So (that way) they can be comfortable with the idea that cannabis is a healthy alternative in many, many cases to pharmaceuticals and for other recreational drugs and alcohol and tobacco.”

He said the wide mix of people — including families and people wearing suits — who attended 4/20 events in places like Toronto and Vancouver on Monday shows that a broader demographic accepts pot.

His company, Green and Hill Industries, which markets under the brand Ross’ Gold, has a mission to dispel the myths and reduce stigma related to marijuana and it will continue to do so leading up to the October vote.

Rebagliati was stripped of his gold medal for snowboarding after he tested positive for marijuana at the 1998 Winter Olympics, but the decision was ultimately overturned.