Pubdate: Mon, 18 Apr 2016
Source: Toronto 24hours (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Canoe Inc.
Author: Kevin Connor
Page: 5


Annual 420 weed rally will be more of a party than protest

This week's annual pot protest will be transformed into a celebration
now that the federal government has vowed to legalize weed, 420
Toronto organizers say.

Marijuana enthusiasts gather each year at Yonge-Dundas Square on April
20 - known as 420 - to smoke cannabis publicly and to push for the
legalization of the popular drug.

Chris Goodwin, of 420 Toronto, said he hopes the need to sponsor such
a day is coming to an end.

"I would still want a grassroots event. But I hope the fact that it is
a protest ends and can turn into a celebration like Pride (Toronto),"
Goodwin said, adding he would like to see the day when the event has
corporate sponsors.

This year's event, which kicks off with a march at 11 a.m. on
Wednesday, will include bands, comedians, vending booths, and the
giveaway of 1,000 pot-filled joints.

There will also be new features: Food trucks serving munchies like
poutine and the handing out of one million marijuana seeds.

"We have had (rolling) papers to give away in the past, but never have
we had 10,000 packages of 100 seeds," Goodwin said.

"People will be encouraged to sprout them, even in places like parks
where they will be visible to the public."

Matt Mernagh, a founder of the 420 movement in Ontario, recalled the
first protest at Yonge-Dundas in 2006 attracted only a handful of activists.

Mernagh had a joint containing seven grams of cannabis and feared he
would be arrested for possession, but that didn't happen.

"No one wanted us there (in the beginning) and it took courage, but
there has been quite the evolution. Last year, I walked into the
square with a joint that was 89 grams," he said.

"It's fascinating to see how far things have come, but it took a lot
of advocacy to get people out of the cannabis closet."
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MAP posted-by: Matt