'My new dealer is the PM'

Ashley MacIsaac says he's spent 25 years feeling like a criminal, but he doesn't have to feel that way anymore.

The 43-year-old Cape Breton-born fiddler has spent decades bringing his particular brand of rock-infused Celtic music to audiences across the country, and along the way has been a frequent cannabis user.

"I was doing things that I thought would make people happy — that's what you do as an entertainer — but at the same time I had to consider myself a criminal," MacIsaac said Wednesday in a phone interview from Sydney River, N.S.

The virtuoso fiddler was first in line at the Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. branch, which was set to become the only legal place to buy recreational marijuana on Cape Breton Island on Wednesday as legalization rolled out across the country.

"I don't need to be a criminal anymore, and that's a great feeling," he said. "And my new dealer is the prime minister!"

MacIsaac was arrested in Saskatchewan in July of 2001 and charged with possession, but was given an absolute discharge a few months later by what he a called "a very considerate and understanding judge.

MacIsaac spent a chilly night alone outside the NSLC, but by Wednesday morning there were half a dozen other customers lined up to take part. He said the atmosphere was festive.

"People seem very friendly and happy and excited that a long, long overdue prohibition has come to a close," he said.

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