Some Global Marijuana Marchers Opt to Stay Put
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Some Global Marijuana Marchers Opt to Stay Put

Participants at Toronto's Global Marijuana March had a fun, peaceful party at Queen's Park. And then half of them forgot to march.

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This year’s edition of Toronto’s Global Marijuana March had everything one might expect at such an event. The crowd, which massed at Queen’s Park North on Saturday afternoon before the parade headed north on University Avenue, was a mix of activists with some reasonable points to make and stoners looking for a good time. Dozens of Canadian flags, complete with marijuana leaves in place of maple leaves, flapped proudly. And when it was time for the parade to begin, roughly half of those gathered forgot to go.

Organizer Neev Tapiero said that committed legalization activists and folks looking to get stoned in the park were equally welcome at the event.

“There are several ways of describing this,” he said. “Protest, festival, protestival…we’re just out to celebrate cannabis culture.”

He added that the mission of the march is to spread awareness of the benefits of marijuana and the need for legal reform.

Among the activist groups represented at the march was Moms for Marijuana International. Moms Canada president Cheri Shaw is a medical marijuana user and the mother of a teenage son. She began using weed to cope with several chronic pain conditions. Prior to that, she had been prescribed Dilaudid, a synthetic opiate.

“I’ve been on narcotics since I was 11,” she said. “Before I quit two years ago, I was on 360 eight-milligram [tablets] a month.”

“I would take one, wait 10 minutes, and throw it up, then wait an hour, take another one, throw it up again. And I’d do that until my throat was raw.”

She said that medical marijuana has made her a better parent.

“It’s helped me relax and see things differently,” she said. “My memory that I lost over years of narcotic use is coming back.”

But parents who are medical marijuana users sometimes face scrutiny from the authorities.

“When I got my medical marijuana license, I had Children’s Aid come to my house,” said Shaw, “and I was lucky, because I got a very decent worker. She left a little bit more educated and I’ve never had a problem since. The problem is when you get people who don’t want to learn.”

Kareem Bruzual was the parade’s head marshal, and was responsible for organizing volunteers.

“Crowd control isn’t an issue here,” he said. “The only issue on the parade itself is to make sure everyone’s safe.”

“I’ve never seen a mad stoner. They’re all too laid back,” he added. “I’m just here to make sure the parade goes off without any hitches.”

Unfortunately, Bruzual didn’t get quite get his wish. While the crowd was fairly well behaved and did a decent job of cleaning up after itself, about half of them opted not to move once the parade started. Instead, they continued hanging and lounging under the trees, listening to music, chatting, and getting stoned. Every so often, a group would get up and amble up the sidewalk in an attempt to catch up with the larger parade. Most seemed okay with missing it.

“Oh, the parade went already?” said one man waiting in line at a hot dog vendor. “I guess no one told us. We’re all the way at the south end of the park.”

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