Pubdate: Tue, 21 Apr 2015
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Joel OpHardt
Page: A8


It's 420 =C2=85 time to smoke and protest country's pot laws

Clouds covered both sky and ground at City Hall as hundreds turned out
for Hamilton's 420 pot rally.

A cold and wet Monday didn't stop supporters of legalization from
voicing their displeasure with federal marijuana legislation.

"We should be able to grow it like tomatoes," said Peter Melanson,
organizer of the event and frontman for the Melanheadz Vape Lounge on
York Boulevard.

"I don't want anyone to go to jail for it - it's not hurting

The term "420" reportedly stems from a code word a group of California
teens used to signify the time they would meet to smoke up after the
school day ended.

Now the 20th day of the fourth month of each year (April 20) is
recognized internationally as a time to hold pro-pot rallies.

Hamilton's rally started with a march from the Melanheadz lounge on
York, with participants arriving at City Hall around 1 p.m.

By that time the crowd had grown to about 200 people, with more
expected to arrive before the 4:20 p.m. pinnacle, at which point
Melanson said he would be giving away 710 joints to the crowd.

By 3 p.m., there was no obvious police presence at the

David Breitwieser, an 18-year-old Hamiltonian and first-timer at the
event, said he was for decriminalization, but recognized that the drug
may not be for everyone.

"My girlfriend has schizophrenia, so the last thing I would want to do
is give her weed," he said, adding that he chooses to use cannabis
instead of other drugs like alcohol, which he sees as more damaging.

Others cited that legalization would lead to better regulation and
control of the substance.

"They're wasting our tax dollars policing it, when they could be
making money legalizing it," said 48-year-old David Reid, also from

Under federal law, it's illegal to grow, process or consume marijuana
and its products for so-called recreational use in Canada. However,
doctors can prescribe it for medicinal use and the federal government
is allowing companies to grow it for registered patients.

Andre Gagnon, a spokesperson for Health Canada, said that Health
Canada does not approve of marijuana consumption, but that courts have
"required reasonable access" when prescribed.

Hamilton police could not be reached for comment.
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