Source: Toronto Star (Canada)
Pubdate: Thu, 2 Jul 1998
Author: Roberta Avery


ORILLIA - Police tried to douse a plan to turn Canada Day into Cannabis Day
by arresting the organizer before the smoke-out began.

Although the man behind the pot fest was in jail during yesterday's
festivities, several people protesting federal marijuana laws openly defied
a heavy police presence at Orillia's Canada Day celebration.

At least five people were charged with possession of marijuana.

"I think it's about time we made a statement by sparking up a joint," said
Mike Lancaster, 35, of Orillia, who was led away in handcuffs by police to
a mix of loud jeers and cheers from the crowd.

The protesters, who were calling for the legalization of marijuana, mixed
with children waving flags, grandparents in lawn chairs and families
enjoying picnics in Orillia's Couchiching Beach Park.

"I think it's disgraceful to have this here on Canada Day," said Donna
Reekie, a former Orillia resident who travelled from Calgary to attend the
celebration. "This is a day for families, not this nonsense."

Ina Kealy, 40, of Caledon who said marijuana gives her relief from
rheumatoid arthritis, was disappointed only a few people lit up.

"That's what it's going to take to make the point," she said.

"Canada is supposed to be a free country, I think we should be able to
smoke a joint if we want," Tim Kors, 30, of Bracebridge, said as Orillia
Mayor Ken McCann told the crowd of several hundred, "Canada is the best
country in the world."

Kors was among those led away in handcuffs by police.

Inspector Jim Dixon, commander of the Ontario Provincial Police detachment
in Orillia, said the organizer was remanded in custody by a justice of the
peace yesterday.

The crowd in the four-hectare park was swarming with OPP officers, but
Dixon refused to say how many extra officers had been brought in.

The organizer, Ron Mclnnes, 50, of Orillia faces one charge of possession
of a controlled substance, one charge of production of a controlled
substance and two charges of promoting and selling instruments for illicit
drug use.

He was arrested late Tuesday and is to appear in a Barrie court for a bail
hearing today. -

- ---
Checked-by: (Joel W. Johnson)