Pubdate: Sun, 21 Apr 2013
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2013 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Chris Hofley
Page 2


As the clock struck 4:20 p.m. on Saturday, a haze of smoke enveloped 
Parliament Hill, cheers erupted and a pungent smell wafted over downtown.

For at least a few hours on a cold April afternoon, some 9,000 people 
welcomed the opportunity to puff on a joint without legal hassle, 
getting stoned while speaking out in support of legalizing marijuana.

"I've been smoking for 20 years and it's gone from hiding behind 
dumpsters to this," said Dan, a 50-something from Alberta visiting 
Ottawa with his buddy Grant.

Neither man looked like your typical pothead and that was also a 
theme Saturday, as the age range varied as much as the methods of getting high.

There were blunts, bongs, joints, vaporizers and homemade pipes as 
far as you could stumble, but there was also a very clear message 
coming from the group of mellow demonstrators.

"I think most people here really want to see movement in terms of 
legalization and want to take a stand," said Kanata's Kyle Arthous as 
he puffed a joint the length of his forearm. "I'm sure there are 
plenty who just see it as a free pass to smoke without being bothered."

This year's event had more of an organized feel than in years past, 
with speakers from the Green and Liberal parties and the young 
Colorado lawyer who helped get weed legalized in that state. There 
was also money thrown at 4/20 in Ottawa and across the country this 
year, thanks to an investment from lottery winner Bob Erb, who has 
committed $1 million of his winnings to help get pot legalized. He 
chipped in $125,000 to pay for 4/20 events across Canada on Saturday.

Cops and paramedics kept an eye on the crowd from the perimeter, but 
potheads aren't exactly known to get rowdy and there appeared to be 
few issues as the afternoon moved along.

"Where else do you see a demonstration where everyone's best friends 
by the end," wondered Amanda, from Orleans, as she waited for a giant 
bong to make its way back to her.

It wasn't just about pot, either, as the few political types who 
spoke made a point of stressing the importance of voting, using the 
draw of legal pot to encourage the younger set to go to the polls.

"We know prohibition doesn't work," said Justin Reist of the Young 
Green Party. "It's people like you and I who enjoy a joint instead of 
a beer (who can help)."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom