Pubdate: Mon, 21 Apr 2014
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2014 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Kristin Annable
Page: 3
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Popular)


Nearly 2,000 Revellers Light Up at Annual 4/20 Rally

Close to 2,000 people gathered at the Legislative Building grounds on 
Sunday, their eyes impatiently on the time, awaiting for 4:20 p.m. to strike.

A countdown, followed by boisterous cheering and a cloud of smoke 
marked Winnipeg's effort in the annual 4/20 celebration, the 
pro-marijuana rally that is recognized worldwide.

An interview with Bill Vander-Graff, a retired cop and licensed 
medical marijuana user, came to an abrupt halt at 4:20 so he could 
relish in the festivities.

After 29 years on the force, Vander-Graff said he has seen enough 
money and officers' time wasted trying to stop the war on pot, which 
he believes cannot be won.

"We would see homicides because of marijuana back in the day," he 
said. "By criminalizing we allow it to be in the hands of organized crime."

It was in 1987 when he had to arrest a fellow officer on marijuana 
charges that made him realize the futility of the fight.

"He lost everything, he lost his job," he said.

Earlier in the day, Steven Stairs, the CEO of the Marijuana Party of 
Canada for Kildonan/St. Paul, organized a march from city hall to the 
Legislative building.

He wants to see 4/20 be more about advocacy and less about partying 
and said Sunday was a good step forward, as it was the first time 
they had a police-escorted march.

"We have people openly smoking it on the streets and the cops behind 
us," he said. "I think today we helped bridge the gap between the 
smokers and those who are really passionate about it."

Despite the heavy police presence at the event, groups were openly 
rolling marijuana and smoking without hassle.

Const. Eric Hofley, a police spokesman, said cops were there to make 
sure everyone was safe and to keep the peace.

A mix of people came to the demonstration - some wearing signs 
calling for legalization, others lazing about with bongs, enjoying 
the freedom of smoking marijuana openly in public.

Dustin Austin-son, who came with a group of friends, believes 4/20 
brings a mixture of people who want to party and want to see change.

"I am here because I want to see marijuana legalized," he said.

With marijuana culture prevalent on television, in music and in 
movies, he thinks people have grown to accept it.

Almost all the revellers agreed the day will always be a party, but 
with advocacy rolled in.

"Everyone is here for their own reasons, "Devon Davis said. "There 
are widespread uses for it and everyone just wants their own right to use it."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom