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Pubdate: Thu, 22 Jun 2000
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Contact: editor@wpgsun.com
Author: Robert Williams


Rally For Legalization

The Marijuana Party didn't have the right papers when it rolled into Winnipeg yesterday.

Canada's newest grassroots political party had high hopes of getting its legalization message
out, but police doused a rally at the Old Market Square bandstand because the pro-dopers
didn't have a permit.

"If we were promoting giving money to homeless people I don't know who would have called
to complain, but you put up a marijuana leaf and all hell breaks loose," said Marijuana Party
Leader Marc-Boris St-Maurice.

St-Maurice hung a banner and was running a sound system when he was told to leave by a
representative of the Exchange District Biz, which has a lease with the city to operate the


Police were called in to mediate and the rally was shut down peacefully.

"It really becomes a question of if we overlook some use of permits it creates a problem when
other groups want to use the area without a permit; it creates a precedent," BIZ executive
director Wayne Copet said, adding he didn't know what the group was promoting.

The Marijuana Party hopes its main platform plank of legalizing weed will get voters off the
pot to elect its candidates in the next federal election.

"Realistically, 600,000 Canadians have criminal records for marijuana," St-Maurice said. "If
we had candidates in every riding I would expect all of those people voting for us, which is a
pretty respectable number."

The party is an offshoot of Bloc Pot, which St-Maurice founded in Montreal to run in
Quebec's last provincial election.

The party's 23 candidates tallied almost 10,000 votes in 1998 and came in seventh out of 12
parties, said St-Maurice, the bassist for punk band Grim Skunk.

Because Bloc Pot received so many votes, it is now eligible to collect $500 a month from the
Quebec government to run an office.

Local marijuana activist Chris Buors has signed on as the party's first Manitoba candidate.

Buors will run in Lloyd Axworthy's Winnipeg South Centre riding in the next federal election,
but is realistic about his chances of beating the cabinet minister.

"There's not a chance in hell. But if we move the cannabis issue up to the front burner I'll be
happy," he said.

St-Maurice was more confident.

Recent polls have found almost two-thirds of Canadians support decriminalizing possession of
small amounts of marijuana and 7.5 million people have admitted trying it, he noted.

"Public opinion is so strongly in favour for it, it's inexcusable of the government not to do
anything at this point," he said.

St-Maurice said he has commitments from 50 candidates to run in British Columbia, Quebec,
Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta.
MAP posted-by: greg