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Dawn Of Spring Renews A Ritual

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
While St. Patrick's Day enthusiasts participated in the "wearing of the green" in downtown Keene Thursday afternoon, a small group of activists celebrated a different type of green at Central Square.

Smoking pipes and rolled blunts, activists used marijuana as a way to express "self-ownership," according to one participant.

This group of nearly 20 was the first of this year to hold a rally supporting marijuana legalization, but similar demonstrations have been a fixture in Central Square since 2009.

"I wish the government would stay out of the issue forever and allow people the right to choose their own medication," said Ademo M. Freeman, who moved to Keene in January.

Allowing medicinal marijuana, a measure that was passed by the N.H. House in a 221-96 vote Wednesday, is just one step, according to Freeman.

Rich G. Paul of Keene agreed. Paul organized the rally Thursday in which protesters were encouraged to smoke marijuana openly in public.

A self-described Free Stater, Paul said he moved to Keene in January 2009.

Paul organized similar rallies on the Statehouse lawn in Concord, and plans to have three this year in the state capital, on April 20, July 4 and Nov. 5, he said.

"We'll be out on the town square every day, weather permitting," Paul said. The time for the rallies is 4:20 p.m.; the number 420 is often used as a synonym for smoking in marijuana culture.

"The point is to be visible," Paul said. "It's easy to dehumanize a population you can't see."

Paul advocates legalization of marijuana possession and sale, which he believes will eliminate the violence that currently surrounds the business of buying and selling the substance, he said.

"Violence is real and it is a result of the law, not a result of the drug," Paul said.

Paul said he spreads the news of the rallies through word of mouth among local marijuana buyers and sellers and by using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Keene police Capt. Peter S. Thomas said police planned to address the rallies in the same manner they did when they happened last year.

Police will interfere in the rallies only to stop violations of the law, which include smoking pot, Thomas said. For the demonstrators to gather to voice their opinion is a public right, he said.

Police were not present at the rally Thursday.

"If there are violations to the law, we will address the violations in the appropriate manner," Thomas said.

NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Keene Sentinel (NH)
Copyright: 2011 Keene Publishing Corporation.
Contact: letters@keenesentinel.com
Website: SentinelSource.com
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