Pubdate: Thu, 18 Apr 2013
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2013 The London Free Press
Author: Jane Sims
Page: 7


Even though the city won't permit it, London's annual marijuana 
festival isn't going up in smoke.

Saturday is April 20, the day when pot users celebrate the drug and 
demand its legalization. And you can bet people will gather in 
Victoria Park even though the festival was denied a city permit, said 
organizer Eric Shepperd.

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

This year, Shepperd said, organizers applied for a permit to 
legitimize the festival's existence, but were "quite regrettably" turned down.

"Sadly I'm kind of expecting what happened last year to repeat 
itself," he said about the anticipated police attention.

"I'm hoping for a positive day, nonetheless. I'm really hoping for a 
peaceful assembly and a demonstration and a happy day in the park."

Shepperd agreed the gathering is an act of civil disobedience. "We 
come together to speak in unison that we believe this law to be unjust."

They want as little confrontation as possible and "frankly, I'm sick 
of seeing a bunch of angry anarchists shouting at the police," he 
said. "The organizers aren't saying, 'Come to the park and smoke 
marijuana and be defiant.' We're just saying come and demonstrate and 
be part of this."

Simply showing up for the cause doesn't run the risk of arrest, he 
said, but possessing, displaying or using pot could lead to problems.

One reason the permit was turned down, he said, was concerns for 
police and community safety. Reducing public safety risks was one of 
the reasons they applied for a permit in the first place.
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