Hundreds of revellers at a 4/20 rally in downtown Victoria had extra reason to celebrate after Ottawa announced it was firming up plans to legalize marijuana Wednesday.

A haze of smoke rose from Centennial Square as the clock struck 4:20 p.m. and many still hoisted signs with pro-legalization messages despite Canadian health minister Jane Philpott’s statement to the United Nations that Canada would introduce legislation in Spring 2017 to legalize the drug.

Ted Smith, who said he has campaigned for legal pot for two decades, called it one of the biggest days of his life.

“I will look back on this day for the rest of my life as one of the key moments of change,” Smith said at the rally.

The pot activist said the seeds of today’s national news have local roots, crediting the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision last year that supported a baker working for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club.

The ruling upheld the rights of medical cannabis users to consume pot as an edible or oil.

“At that point I think this entire façade of a war on drugs became exposed, that our government truly didn’t know what this plant was and how to use it properly,” Smith said.

It remains unclear what the legalization of pot will look like in B.C.

“The federal government can proscribe, so it can come up with things that the provinces can’t or shouldn’t do, and then each individual province will come up with its own set of regulations for retail sales,” said pot activist Deiter Macpherson.

That means it will be up to each province whether you can buy pot at local liquor stores or pharmacies.

Businesses pushing boundaries

With the race to legalize now official on, businesses in Victoria continue to push the boundaries of existing restrictions – to the chagrin of the city’s mayor.

Victoria’s first-ever cannabis lounge opened its doors this week under the legal fog.

Owner Ashley Abraham said The Green Ceiling is a safe place to vaporize marijuana away from prying eyes, as long as you’re 19, have $5 and your own pot products.

“We’re not dispensing on site, there’s no sales and we’re absolutely not allowing people to be selling cannabis here,” Abraham said.

While smoking tobacco products has been banned from patios, bars and restaurants for years, the lounge gets away with it.

Provincial health restrictions and the Capital Regional District’s clean air bylaw are tailored specifically to tobacco – and say nothing about marijuana.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said businesses such as Abraham’s won’t be included as the city moves toward establishing regulations for pot dispensaries.

“It’s not legal, that’s my thought,” Helps said. “They don’t contemplate allowing consumption on site as part of the business license regime for these cannabis dispensaries.”

Helps said the regulations for dispensaries will be implemented by late May or early June.