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Marijuana Activists Can't Seem To Get Arrested In This Town


Nug of the Month: Aug 2008
What do you have to do to get arrested in this town?

Light up a joint on Victoria Avenue this afternoon, no problem. But phone a friend while you drive by the annual pro-pot rally in Niagara Falls and be prepared for the police to lighten your wallet by $155.

This is the reality in Niagara Falls today where talking on a cellphone while driving can net you a fine under Ontario's new law against "distracted driving," but lighting up a doobie in a crowd probably won't even get you a scolding.

Today's the day potheads make their annual pilgrimage to Niagara Falls to willfully engage in civil disobedience – toking up – to prove… uh, dude, what is it we're trying to prove, again?

Oh yeah, their annual rite of spring is a rallying cry, calling on the Canadian government to free the weed.

Every year since 2004, marijuana activists have held an annual "smoke-out" in a park near Highway 420. Among pot smokers, 4:20 p.m., is the universal time to toke up.

So on the weekend before April 20 (the fourth month, 20th day), they flock to Niagara Falls to make their point.

But their message hasn't changed. This year, their website features a picture of Prime Minister Stephen Harper with his hands over his ears, apparently refusing to listen to experts who say marijuana is harmless, should be legalized and should be government-regulated and taxed.

City council has done what it can to discourage the rally by renaming the highway Niagara Veterans Memorial Highway, but as long as it carries the province's official designation as 420, pot smokers will make that connection.

It's hard to know how treat this rally anymore. Frankly, the message is getting old. Their tactics aren't new . And the police reaction is humdrum.

How routine is it? Last year, Review reporter John Law covered the event and unwittingly interviewed Rob Neron from northern Ontario town of Hurst, the same token (and tokin') demonstrator photographer Mike DiBattista put on the front page seven years ago.

A few Niagara Regional Police officers show up each year to escort the pot parade down Victoria Avenue to Clifton Hill and into Queen Victoria Park in time for the big 4:20 spark up. Officially, they're there for the demonstrators' safety since they walk through traffic to get from the highway to the park.

Reporters are assigned to cover the event by editors with visions of visions of cops in riot gear, swinging clubs as they wade into the sea of pot-smokers, dragging them kicking and screaming to a waiting paddy wagon. Nothing like that ever happens.

After every protest, a reporter calls the police station to find out if any tokers were hauled in. But the police describe them as "well-behaved" and "no trouble at all."

It has always been puzzling how police turn a blind eye to what appear to be flagrant violations of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

It appears they want to avoid any trouble out of this perennial event, so it seems they don't go looking for it.

"At the end of the day, it's not our job to rush in and create chaos," an unidentified officer said during last year's protest.

No doubt some of the more militant marijuana activists might like to get arrested for their cause. But our police just won't give them the satisfaction. Cops just seem happy to see the backs of the potheads once the rally is over, they have exercised

their free speech rights, and subverted the system a bit by lighting up in public.

Yet whenever the Niagara Regional Police take down an indoor marijuana grow-op, they send out a press release declaring in boxcar letters another victory in fighting crime. The police are like Ronald Reagan, trying to control the supply-side of Niagara's drug economy when what's needed is a Nancy Reagan to tell the tokers, "just say no."

Niagara Falls residents who haven't witnessed the 420 rally would be amused by the way their own has become a platform for this kind of rabble-rousing.

It's actually a colourful event. Their protest signs and costumes are a feast for the eyes. And when a hundred people light up marijuana cigarettes at the same time, it's a feast for the nose as well.

But if you're driving by to take a look at this flagrant disregard for the law, don't make the mistake of phoning the police while you're driving. That would be illegal.

NewsHawk: Ganjarden: 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Niagara Falls Review
Author: Corey Larocque
Contact: Niagara Falls Review
Copyright: 2010 Sun Media
Website: Marijuana activists can't seem to get arrested in this town
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New Member
Distracted driving is dangerous and can cause death and physical injury. Lighting up a joint doesn't carry any risk of imminent bodily harm. It sounds to me like the Ontarioians have their priorities in the correct order.
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