by Al Graham P.A.C.E.
Every year, just like clockwork, the first weekend of May is when the cannabis community from around the world join together to protest the cannabis laws.
For the fourteenth time the Global Marijuana March was held in Toronto but this year things were different. This year there was no stage, there were no vendors, no speak- ers and there was no permit issued for this event other than for the parade. But even it was for a new shorter route, but did any of these things change the overall mes- sage? No, none of this really changed a thing.
The crowd, while smaller was still over 20,000 strong. People still gathered at Queens Park, the parade still hit the news and people still vended. There was still a 420 celebration at Queens Park and everyone had a great time. So while there was no Freedom Festival happening things were still very festive for the thousands who attended.
With no stage or musicians playing what did the people do while attending this event? Many of them sat on the ground and talked with their friends while some played hacky sack. You could find small areas were people got together and played music whether it was a small group playing some reggae or a couple of guys beating on some bongos. When it came to vending some just laid their wares on a blanket or towed it around in a cooler. For us
we handed out our brochures and TY Expo flyers which we would have done if we had a booth anyways.
Midway through the day a flat bed truck pulled up on the street beside the park. Many of us looked at it and noticed it looked like a stage and even had musical instru- ments sitting on it. After a short wait many that were standing there weren’t disappointed at what they were about to see and hear as The Killin Time Band appeared on this mobile stage. Brad, the bands lead singer and the guys took to their seats and proceeded to fire up some great cannabis tunes.
As they played the area around them and the park in general really started to fill up. This I believe started to put a big smile on the event organizers knowing that they could not properly advertise or promote it in anyway but the people still came to have a say on our cannabis laws.
With the park filling up the event organizers were still try- ing to have the parade to start at the new time with this new route but many others were talking about staying true to tradition, which meant leaving at 2pm and follow- ing the old route. Part of the problem with the new route was that it had no ending point as the people were going to be asked to disperse when they got to a certain area. Meanwhile the old route would bring people back to Queens Park.
After some discussion with the organizers and the police it was decided that the new route did not make much since safety wise as it would allow 20,000 people to just be let loose with no control. Because of this everyone ended up agreeing with the crowd and the parade ended up following the old route.
When the parade
started up we made our way along as we
have been doing for some time with our parade leader, Jody Emery. She was joined by the ladies from NORML Womens Alliance of Canada who came prepared. This was evident
as they were arrived all dressed
up in retro clothing and even had the old car back from the 1930’s,
the days of alcohol prohibition. They were then followed by a crowd of people and two trucks, one carrying the Killin Time band and the other featuring a DJ with some cranking dance tunes. Some vendors brought their cars along as they handed out some of their items to those along the parade route.
With the music blaring and the crowds cheering the downtown buildings were echoing with the sounds of a festival and the sounds that people were standing togeth- er to bring this war on cannabis to an end. It didn’t mat- ter that you were young or if you were old but what does matter was that ever age category was present at this march. Mothers were there with their young ones and young ones were there with their Granma and Grandpa’s. The route this year was attended by many onlookers and sight seers. Along several stretches people could be seen taking pictures and video of the marchers.
After eleven years of doing this it makes one wonder if we are even being heard? I ask this because if our govern- ment hears and removes the long census form from our lives, after only a hundred complaints, then it makes you wonder how come thousands are still getting together yearly to protest our cannabis laws. To many this sounds like selective hearing.
One interesting comment I heard was that the EMS sta- tioned at the event were bored with nothing to do. This leads one to ask can the same thing be said about other forms of legal drugs. Time and time again the cannabis community has proven that we can pack 50,000 people into a small area for 10hrs with no acts of violence. We also did it in 2003 with Sarstock when a half million peo- ple filled the old Downsview Airport to catch the Rolling Stones and AC/DC. When this event happened there was a limited alcohol supply but cannabis was being smoked openly and freely with no major problems.
When the day was over the volunteers started to make their rounds and ask those in attendance to please clean up the mess. This was something that many people start- ed to do but it was something that needed to happen. After the 2011 march we were present to see the mess and we weren’t alone as the TV news crews spotted it and it became the nightly news. I spotted a guy by the name of Jack who was going around from group to group ask- ing them to fill his bag of garbage from their circle. Not one person from those groups complained as handfuls of trash was placed into his bag.
One thing that this day proved is, they can take away our permit but they couldn’t take away our message or the day. See you all again next year, same time, same place.
See Issue 36, 2012 • TreatingYourself • 97