Pubdate: Sun, 02 May 2004
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2004 The Gazette, a division of Southam Inc.
Author: Catherine Solyom


Lighthearted Affair Part Of Worldwide Event Held Annually In More Than 200 

Green Balloons, Green T-Shirts, Green Flags And A Whole Lot Of Smiling People.

You'd think it was St. Patrick's day all over again, but no - this was the 
5th annual marijuana march, where about 300 people floated through central 
Montreal to show their allegiance to the ubiquitous green leaf.

Their cause is the legalization of marijuana, said Marc Boris St. Maurice, 
one of the organizers and a member of the federal Bloc Pot marijuana party.

The event was part of the Million Marijuana March, a worldwide event held 
annually in more than 200 cities, including Toronto and Vancouver, to 
demand the full legalization of pot.

In Montreal, some were draped in Quebec flags, others in Canadian ones, but 
the fleur-de-lis and maple leafs had been replaced by sprigs of cannabis.

As the crowd moved to the rhythm of live reggae along

de Maisonneuve Blvd. and up St. Laurent Blvd., they were flanked by a dozen 
police officers, on foot or driving vans or motorbikes.

The police didn't seem bothered by the fragrant yet illegal odour of 
marijuana wafting by.

"They were demonstrating for their cause, whatever it may be," said 
Constable Robert Mansueto, a Montreal police spokesperson. "It was a 
question of tolerance, as it has been in the past for this march. But it 
doesn't mean people won't be charged later if there was possession or 

But the march was also a "coming-out" event, St. Maurice said - "a chance 
for Montrealers to not be afraid to say they like pot" whether they choose 
to smoke it in public or not.

"I don't even smoke anymore," said Andre Brunet, marching with his 
4-year-old daughter. "But it's not because I've stopped that others 
shouldn't be able to. When you see kids sniffing glue or butane, you think 
they would be better off asking their parents for a joint."

Another participant, identified only as Fleurette La Fleur, was selling 
everything but pot. Lighters, portable pot ashtrays, pipes. She said she 
was there because she likes to smoke and finds it hypocritical that she can 
be arrested for it, despite the fact such a large proportion of the 
population smokes marijuana.

Consumption of illegal substances is, of course, hard to track. But studies 
have estimated that about one million Canadians smoke pot on a regular 
basis, and that 54 per cent of 15- to-19-year-olds said they had smoked it 
more than once.

St. Maurice said the movement has done well recently. For instance, the 
Chez Marijane cafe on Rachel St. - where patrons can smoke pot at their 
tables - hasn't been busted in two weeks.

But even the busts serve a purpose, he said. "They shed light on the 
absurdity of keeping it illegal. Whether they bust us or not, people will 
still smoke."

St. Maurice said he is looking forward to the federal election, when the 
Bloc Pot will field 100 candidates. He wants to "smoke out Paul Martin" on 
the issue of of marijuana as he runs for office in the same riding of Ville 

His fear is that Martin will introduce automatic fines for simple 
possession - and fill his coffers with the profits.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom