Pot protest was smokin'

Pot protest was smokin'

Pro-pot activists say it's high time the federal government legalizes marijuana.

And hundreds of those who believe Canadians should be able to smoke up without fear of being charged took to the streets of Niagara Falls Sunday to draw attention to their cause.

"You need to legalize it," said Marco Renda, one of the demonstrators who took part in what has come to be known as the annual Highway 420 Anti-Prohibition Rally.

"I have no problem with the government regulating it, just like they do alcohol," he said.

The rally, which was staged for the first time in Niagara Falls about five years ago, began around 3 p.m. on a grassy patch of land on Victoria Avenue overlooking Highway 420.

Many of those participating came from out of town including Hamilton, Toronto and Western New York.

They unfurled large banners along Victoria Avenue and cheered loudly whenever the driver of a passing vehicle honked in support.

"Free the weed," they chanted, some openly smoking marijuana cigarettes.

From there, the noisy but peaceful crowd marched along Victoria Avenue to Clifton Hill.

Some attendees, including Renda, claim to have medical exemptions from the federal government that allow them to smoke marijuana legally. Others at the rally said they are recreational users.

Derek Pedro, of Hamilton, said he regularly uses marijuana to quell severe pain caused by a connective tissue disorder, but supports legalization for recreational use, too.

He said the idea behind the rally is to educate people about "responsible" marijuana use.

"We've got to make it known that it's medicine and it works," said Pedro. "You have to, unfortunately, break the law in this country to try it and know that it works."

One Niagara Falls man at the event said he hopes the government legalizes marijuana, but believes it's not likely to happen any time soon.

"The present government doesn't want to touch (legalization)," said Atilla, who declined to give his last name or have his picture taken.

"It's going to be another 10 years."

Atilla said he thinks it's unfair many Canadians and Americans are saddled with a criminal record for possession.

He scoffs at the idea that marijuana is sometimes referred to as a "gateway drug" - a starting point for people who eventually experiment with hard drugs, such as heroin and cocaine.

"(Marijuana) has no relation to hard drugs," said Atilla.

"I've never seen anyone break into houses or sell their bodies on the street to get pot."

A spokesman for the Niagara Regional Police said Sunday evening they had not received any reports of problems at the rally.

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that was the first 420 rally that i have attend ..it was fun .i did meet some nice peeps also
from that day on i promise myself that any event that i can afford i would participate ...
the next event that i look forward to is hempfest ..peace ..7..

My hat is off to you!

I will try to get my MS friend to share his story.

Keep up the good work.
sounds like a nice turn-out for a definitly worthy cause, i just recently saw treating yourself website, and i need to subscribe.............thanks for your efforts Marco:anim_19: