Pubdate: Sun, 05 Apr 2015
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2015 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: David Larkins
Page: 2


Marijuana Users' 4/20 Parade in Jeopardy Over Bylaw Change & New 
Insurance Requirements

The man behind Winnipeg's annual 4/20 rally said a city bylaw is 
infringing on legal marijuana users' democratic rights by making 
legal assembly more prohibitive.

Steven Stairs, a vocal advocate in Winnipeg for medical marijuana 
use, said plans to march through downtown on April 20 - the day weed 
smokers around the world light up in support of decriminalization - 
are in limbo after the city refused to issue a parade permit.

Stairs, himself a medical marijuana user, said the city's traffic 
bylaw requires applicants provide liability insurance and, because 
marijuana is involved, no insurance companies have yet agreed to 
provide a policy, leading the city to reject the application.

"The city has denied my insurance because there's a caveat in 
insurance that says the insurance is not covered if these people are 
under the effects of marijuana," he said. "Well, this is going to be 
a majority of medical marijuana patients. Legally I'm entitled to 
march in the streets with a police escort like anybody else does, but 
.. there are very few insurance companies across the country that 
will insure marijuana businesses out there let alone marches with 
marijuana users in the them. So it's pretty discriminatory."

Stairs said the annual rally at the Legislature will still be held, 
but called the rejection of his parade permit "hugely prejudicial."

"It's our democratic right to assemble like that. If everybody else 
has the right to do it, why don't we?"

Stairs said last year he rented a bus to shuttle people from the 
Legislative grounds to city hall where a legal march through downtown 
commenced. But he said a change in the bylaw shortly after that 
altered everything.

"The police are trying to work with me at least on it," he said. "The 
city has basically put me in a hole where they're like 'If you can 
get insured, you can have your march.' And no one can insure me."

"It's this whole catch-22 situation that they put the organizers of 
events into and they don't think about how it (infringes) on to their rights."

The terms and conditions on a parade permit application state an 
applicant must have it approved by the police special events 
coordinator two weeks prior to the parade date and that the chief of 
police can withdraw the permit if "the applicant or any parade 
participant violates any law, regulation, or by-law."
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