Apr 21, 2017
A handful of marijuana users gathered under clouds of rain and smoke Thursday to hear cannabis advocates speak at Charles Clark Square in Windsor’s first 4/20 Festival.
But despite the Facebook event’s call that “thousands of patients” would be in attendance, the event attracted less than 40 people at any one time in the opening hours.
“They’re coming, they’re going, they’re coming back,” said event organizer Leo Lucier.
By 4:30 p.m., around 80 people were in attendance, and Lucier said he hoped more might come after work. He insisted that about 500 people have been “in and out of the event” throughout the day.
The 4/20 Festival rallied Windsor marijuana consumers to collect money and food donations for the local food bank. Guest speakers included medical marijuana advocates Sam Mellace and John Trumel, who spoke under drizzle to a thinning crowd.
The event was staged just a week after the federal government introduced legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in Canada.
Lucier felt that lingering stigma around the consumption of marijuana might have impacted the event’s overall attendance, but that the inclement weather played a big factor.
“When you’ve got weather like this, it’s tough to compete with it,” said Lucier. “There’s gonna be more to come and better days.”
Keven Sharpe of the Cannabis Rights Coalition said that Wednesday night’s police warning might also kept people away, but thinks that the public had no reason to be scared.
“We’re legal, I’m 100 per cent legal, and we’re not doing any harm. So why not?,” Sharpe asked.
Police Chief Al Frederick said earlier this week that Windsor police would be present around the downtown core, and will keep enforcing current marijuana laws.
“Today, marijuana is illegal,” Frederick had said. “And anybody who (illegally) possesses or traffics marijuana today is subject to prosecution. No question.”
At indoor medical marijuana lounge Higher Limits, just a few blocks from Charles Clark Square, owner Jon Liedtke said nearly 250 people rolled through the lounge throughout the day. He agreed weather might have lightly affected attendance, but he wasn’t expecting many more attendees.
Liedtke says that 4/20 is a day when pot lovers all over the world stand shoulder to shoulder to protest unjust laws, and fight for the legalization of marijuana.
“It’s a very important day because this is the last 4/20 where cannabis will be criminalized in the country. So it’s a big day for us at Higher Limits. What it means is a day of celebration.”
As of 5 p.m., Windsor police spokesman Sgt. Steve Betteridge said the event was peaceful and no arrests had been made.