Pubdate: Wed, 21 Apr 2004
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2004 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Leah Janzen


Protest Celebrates Marijuana, Demands Drug's Legalization

Winnipeg pot smokers took advantage of a balmy spring afternoon to gather 
at the Legislative Building yesterday to spark up joints and call for the 
legalization of marijuana.

A group of close to 200 teenagers lazed on the grass, played musical 
instruments and skateboarded under a cloud of sweet-smelling smoke on the 
front lawn of the Legislative Building as part of annual pot rallies taking 
place around the continent.

Known to marijuana aficionados as 4/20, April 20 has become the day pot 
smokers use to celebrate "the weed" and protest against the fact that 
marijuana remains illegal in Canada and the United States.

Similar rallies took place yesterday in major cities across North America.

Most of the people attending the gathering in Winnipeg were teenagers who 
used the day to skip school and show off their marijuana use.

'Save money' "If it was legal, we'd save money on policing because cops 
wouldn't have to waste their time arresting people who smoke pot,'' said 
Manuel de Paulo, who identified himself as one of the rally's organizers. 
"They could worry about more serious crimes."

A handful of Winnipeg police were on hand to monitor the gathering, but 
none of the protesters was arrested despite the fact they smoked pot in 
clear view.

Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Bob Johnson said officers made 
sure the group did not become unruly.

Melissa Wedgewood, 16, said she attended the rally to show the use of 
marijuana does not make someone a criminal.

"People who are smoking pot aren't a problem,'' she said. "If so many 
people are doing it, why are they keeping it illegal?"

Russell, a 16-year-old who did not want to give his last name, said the 
decriminalization of pot would give the government the power to tax the 
product and bring in new revenue. "Can you imagine the money they'd make?" 
he said. "It should be legalized." 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart