Pubdate: Fri, 23 Apr 2004
Source: Sentinel Review (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 Annex Publishing & Printing Inc.
Author: Eric Schmiedl
Bookmark: (Hemp)


Venues Still Scarce For Organizer

WOODSTOCK - A huge rally that had been aimed at promoting pot
legalization is still in the works for the Woodstock area, although
the focus will now be on hemp instead.

"There's a legality of words ... there's nothing illegal about hemp.
It's a different story when you say hemp," said organizer Jim Bender.

Smoking pot at the rally will be up to individuals, said

"I wouldn't promote that myself. I've been approaching things with
great caution. I want to stay above the law."

Last September, Bender organized a peaceful gathering of about 200
people in support of decriminalizing marijuana.

They held the small rally behind Lady Godiva's, an adult video store
on Dundas Street owned by Bender.

Cops in a passing patrol car were invited to join in.

Since then, the federal government tightened its drugs laws to make
marijuana possession illegal again, at least until the issue can be
studied further.

"I firmly believe that the government should regulate it. It ought to
be regulated because they're just permitting the bad guys to take the
money (from marijuana sales). Our government should be taking the
money out of it, just like they did with the liquor trade."

Bender is looking for a venue for the hemp festival, which he plans to
hold in the first week of July.

He did have a place lined up but the property owner was concerned the
police would seize his property and belongings.

"I've got a lot of feelers out," said Bender.

The event is to feature live music and food for sale.

"I thought it could be a good event for the community. Like a peaceful
rally ... spend the day there."

Since holding the small rally last year, he said he has heard interest
in a followup from across Canada and the United States.

Any proceeds above the cost of the event are to go to the Autism

Chief Ron Fraser of the Oxford Community Police Service said police
officers would be assigned to monitor the rally.

And if anyone smokes pot at the event?

"I'd expect we'd do some enforcement."
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