Pubdate: Sun, 21 Apr 2013
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2013 The London Free Press
Author: Hank Daniszewski


Frigid winds and a heavy police presence were blamed for a paltry
turnout at London's annual 4/20 marijuana protest Saturday afternoon.

Only about 60 people turned out for the event at Victoria Park,
watched over by more than 20 London police officers.

Organizer Eric Shepperd denounced the large number of police at the
peaceful protest as a waste of time and money.

"They don't want to be be here. They could be out taking care of real
crime," Shepperd told the crowd.

The 4/20 event is held on April 20 and has evolved into an
international day of protest promoting the legalization of marijuana.

In 2010, 1,000 people showed up in Victoria Park. Last year about 200
people gathered and two people were charged. In 2011, six were charged.

Shepperd repeatedly warned people at this year's event they would be
arrested if they were in possession of marijuana without a valid
medical permit.

As 4:20 p.m. approached, the time when protestors traditionally light
up a joint, the police closed in from the edges of the park.

Some protestors lit tobacco cigarettes, which were checked by police,
but there were no arrests.

Staff Sgt. Tom Gaffney said the large number of officers was a

"We prepare based on information we receive and activity in other
years. Today the poor weather is limiting the crowd," he said.

Despite the low turnout, Shepperd said he was encouraged that public
opinion polls show support for marijuana legalization is steadily
growing both in Canada and the United States.