Pubdate: Mon, 20 Apr 2009
Source: Tribune, The (CN ON)
Page: 5
Copyright: 2009 Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: John Law
Referenced: Bill C-15
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal - Canada)


Marijuana: Joint Meeting at Hwy. 420

They came, they saw, they toked.

Pot smokers arrived by the bus load for Saturday's  annual Hwy. 420
pro-marijuana rally, and for once they  didn't have to think twice
about lighting up in public.  Despite an abundance of doobies, hash
pipes and bongs,  the police opted to look the other way.

"At the end of the day, it's not our job to rush in and  create
chaos," said one Niagara Regional Police officer  observing the rally
in his cruiser.

It's likely the only day of the year pot smokers can  spark up in
public without fear of arrests, as hundreds  gathered near the
intersection of Highway 420 and  Victoria Avenue before marching down
Clifton Hill to  chill out at Queen Victoria Park.

At exactly 4:20 p. m., much of the crowd lit up their  stash at once
while chanting "Free the Weed!" and  lashing out against a proposed
new Conservative bill  which would impose mandatory jail sentences to
anyone  caught growing marijuana plants for the purpose of

Under Bill C-15, it would be six months in jail for 200  plants or
fewer. Between 201 and 500 plants would  warrant a year behind bars.

The bill is being pushed by Niagara Falls MP and  Canadian Justice
Minister Rob Nicholson, who wasn't Mr.  Popularity Saturday.

"He's probably a good guy, but he has bad policies,"  said Toronto's
Marko Ivancicevic, one of several  speakers at the rally.

"Eventually (pot) is going to be legal and people will  realize they
wasted a hundred years and billions of  dollars fighting it."

It wasn't just reefer madness for Marge Groenendyk, who  attended pot
rallies in Edmonton before moving to  Brighton earlier this year.
She's prescribed medical  marijuana for her degenerative arthritis,
but she feels  it benefits her mind as well.

"It's stress relief, not just medical relief."

She started as a recreational user as way to deal with  years of abuse
from an alcoholic husband. Since then,  she has grown angry at laws
she feels target a harmless  lifestyle.

"We're here to educate," she says. "It needs to be out  there ... the
lies and all the things the government is  saying."

Proud toker Rob Neron of Hearst is down to half a lung  thanks to
Hodgkin's disease. He admits it's "not easy"  making the trip to
Niagara Falls every April, but the  cause is worth the discomfort.

"It's very dear to me," he says. "It's to educate  people and it's

The march down Victoria Avenue drew plenty of stares,  including one
from a bemused priest.

Along Clifton Hill, tourists stopped and asked what the  fuss was

"Best party of my life!" yelped one toker to a  bystander.

Kingston's Terry Sauve didn't mind the blunt brigade as  they passed
by his kids. It's all part of their  education, he says.

"They learn about it in school ... at some point,  they'll make their
own choice."

Son Cale wasn't a fan, however: "They smelled." 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake