Canada celebrated two cannabis competitions during the fall, with both Toronto and Montreal playing host to events celebrating the joys and virtues of fine buds. Although police showed up at both events, they failed to stop people from enjoying themselves, and only one arrest was made.
Toronto Calyx Festival
The October 20 Toronto event was held on a cruise boat, where dozens of partiers cruised around Toronto Harbour, smoking phat doobies and enjoying music, comedy and fabulous food. Dubbed the “Calyx Festival,” those wishing to be judges had the chance to acquire their judge’s kit the week before the cruise, allowing time for proper sampling before the day of the party.
Organizer Larry Duprey was concerned about the possibility of police interference, which was the motivation behind holding the event on a boat and distributing the buds in advance. These turned out to be wise precautions, as when the boat docked at 1am three police cars and a police boat converged on the vessel. A pair of officers boarded the boat, but made no arrests, merely smelling roaches, fingering hemp fabrics and intimidating the revelers, most of whom decided that it was now time to go home.
A similar event is planned for December 15, but restricted to medical club members and Section 56 exemptees.
Quebec Cannabis Cup
The Quebec “Cannabis and Hashish Cup” was a much larger party, with over 500 people attending the third annual event on November 10 and 11. (CC#24, Vive le cannabis libre!, CC#30, Montreal’s marijuana magic). The party has grown bigger and more above-ground each year, with no police problems until now.
Organizer Alain Berthiaume, founder of Hemp Quebec and the Quebec Seed Bank, was nervous about handing out the pot. He was convinced that undercover police had infiltrated the smokey two-floor hall, and wanted to be sure that everyone got their buds without incident. Finally, after a few hours delay, he just had everyone line up and hand in their tickets to get their canister with six kinds of pot and two kinds of hash.
The distribution of pot went well and everyone had fun during the first day of the event. A variety of live music and entertainment keep the party lively, while the supply of yummy party food was continually replenished ? a multitude of dips, chips, cheeses, salads, cakes and drinks were enjoyed by all.
Yet late in the evening, when most people had gone home, a dozen police officers entered the hall and took up positions near the exits. This convinced much of the remaining crowd to go home, but the police left shortly thereafter, without making any arrests. They claimed they had been doing a “fire safety inspection.”
Officers returned a half-hour later and quietly asked Berthiaume to step outside, where he was charged with trafficking, handcuffed and taken away in a police car.
The next day the event continued, although somewhat subdued as word of the previous night’s arrest spread. Cannabis Culture publisher Marc Emery and Canadian Marijuana Party Leader Marc-Boris St-Maurice organized a march to the police station where Berthiaume was being held.
Two dozen party-goers carried candles and signs, blocking traffic as they made their way to the cop-shop, chanting “Free Alain” as they marched. At the police station, Emery and St-Maurice made speeches reminding protestors and police about the injustice of imprisoning someone whose only “crime” was to throw a fun party.
The police blocking entry to the station grounds were soon reinforced with another half-dozen officers, to help them withstand the small crowd of toking, candle-bearing and shivering protestors.
After making their point with a half-hour protest at the police station, protestors caught the metro back to the party in progress, warming themselves and smoking one for their jailed host.
Two police officers returned to the party later on Sunday evening, making their presence known, wandering around the event for about 20 minutes but not reacting to the many joints being openly smoked around them.
Alain was held in jail for two nights, finally being released on Monday evening. In an interview with Cannabis Culture, Berthiaume said that the Quebec Cup would happen again next year. “There was 500 people smoking pot and they made only one arrest. In court I will be challenging the police on having entered our private party without a warrant. We will not back down, and in two or three years there will be coffeeshops in Montreal!”
For more details on the buds, winners and festivities, see our next issue.