TORONTO -- Dozens of green-wearing, pot-smoking revellers partied
outside Toronto's downtown police headquarters yesterday, smoking
their joints, bongs and pipes without being harassed by a single
police officer. Streams of sweet smoke wafted through the air as
cannabis crusader Marc Emery, a Vancouver resident formerly from
London, handed out joints to fellow pot enthusiasts and urged them to
exercise "the lawful right to possess marijuana."

"Marijuana is legal in Ontario to possess and it is permissible under
law to smoke marijuana anywhere it is permissible to smoke tobacco in
Ontario," Emery said.

He called on the province the freest jurisdiction in the western
world, with recent court challenges of pot laws and the acceptance of
gay marriages.

Although the event was right on police property, no uniformed officers
were seen amongst the crowd. Inside headquarters, police seemed
disinterested with the party and no officers were made available to
comment.

"I trust if the police wanted to apprehend our pot they could've done
so," Emery said of the not-so-subtle challenge to police.

"I thought the most provocative place to smoke marijuana with others
would be right in front of (police Chief Julian Fantino's) doorstep."

Police organizations in Ontario have said they won't lay charges for
possession of marijuana under 30 grams until the country's muddled pot
laws are clarified.

The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled on June 10 it would not overturn a
precedent-setting Ontario Superior Court decision that cleared a
teenager of marijuana possession charges.

The Superior Court judge ruled there is no current ban on pot
possession in Ontario, since the federal government failed to comply
with a July 2000 court order to create a new law dealing with the drug.

The Liberal government hopes to have its new marijuana legislation
passed by the end of the year. Under the proposed new laws, possession
of up to 15 grams of pot -- enough to roll about 15 to 20 joints --
would be a minor offence that carries no criminal record.

Meanwhile, Emery said the province, and more specifically Toronto,
might get an infusion of tourism from travellers wanting to smoke up
without fear of a criminal record.

"(Toronto) is the coolest place in the world to be right now, the most
enlightened and the most advanced place to be," Emery said. "With SARS
and all the related difficulties we've had in Ontario, this is the
ideal (solution) to bring hundreds of thousands of tourists here, for
the fine Canadian marijuana that circulates throughout the province.

"Tell everybody around the world to come to Ontario; celebrate a
unique freedom available only here in Ontario."

Emery is an activist trying to get the drug legalized. He also runs
the B.C. Marijuana Party, Cannabis Culture magazine and a store that
sells marijuana seeds.

Alison Myrden, a government-licensed medicinal marijuana user, said
she attended the rally to thank Emery for his work that helped her get
a legal exemption to smoke and treat her multiple sclerosis.


Pubdate: Fri, 20 Jun 2003
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003 The London Free Press, a division of Sun Media Corporation
Contact: letters@lfpress.com
Website: http://www.fyilondon.com/londonfreepress/