The Urbanite – Jon Liedtke – Sept. 24, 2014
Local marijuana activists are advocating for legalization in a country that as of late is falling behind from gains made in the United States.
Supporters are gathering for the second annual Marijuana March downtown at City Hall Square Sept. 27 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. The event also features music, poetry, comics, speeches and, of course, smoking marijuana. Organizers expect a crowd of 500 to 1,000 people.
“The Marijuana March is a legalization march, it’s like any public protest march,” said organizer and Endless Heights head shop owner Alex Newman. “The event is relatively new in Windsor, there have been a ton of them in other cities … the major difference is [laws and attitudes] are actually changing.”
Newman referenced recent changes to Health Canada legislation as well as the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado in the United States as clear affirmations that opinions have been changing.
Newman noted that marijuana legalization would be a “boon for business” overall as new businesses would come to market, including lounges and dispensaries.
“Prohibition is just so ineffective, it’s useless. Money is being spent but it’s not doing anything … change legislation, the public opinion is there.”
Sergeant D’Asti of the Windsor Police Service explained that if a “permit has been granted by the city and [they] are aware of it” that police would “be there monitoring the situation.”
“We use discretion at these types of events … our primary purpose and our number one mandate is public safety and that’s what we are bound to do … ensure the public is safe,” he said regarding monitoring the march.
The issue causes problems for enforcement because the Government of Canada has multiple medicinal enforcement regimes on the books. The old system, which is currently grandfathered, allows patients to grow their own marijuana or designate someone to grow for them. The new system sees doctors prescribing marijuana like other medication. Enforcement is compounded by activists who illegally possess marijuana for recreational use.
“We are aware that people do use marijuana and our role in all of it is that as long as its on the books in the Criminal Code of Canada, we enforce those rules and those regulations … we are obligated and bound, sworn to uphold the laws that apply to all citizens of this country.”
Last year the public smoking of marijuana prompted no arrests nor problems and both organizers and Windsor Police Service don’t expect any problems this year.
“If somebody has it and is lawfully authorized to have it and smoke it or consume it then they’ll have a prescription from a doctor, much like any other prescription … anybody who is in possession and found to be in possession and can’t provide those documents can be subjected to charges,” explained D’Asti.
Jonathon Liedtke is the managing editor of The Urbanite, Windsor’s alternative newspaper. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.