Global ganja celebration

David Malmo Levine: rallying the masses at Vancouver`s rally.David Malmo Levine: rallying the masses at Vancouver`s rally.On May 4, almost 100,000 people in over 190 cities around the world took to the streets to protest for pot. Coordinated by Dana Beal of New York’s Cures Not Wars, the Million Marijuana March has grown over five years into the world’s only truly international day of global ganja freedom.
Cannabis Culture helped out again this year, sponsoring the printing of all promotional posters and sending out cash donations and materials to over 85 North American rally organizers.

Police pressures

In New York, 6000 peaceful protesters took to the streets, but the parade route was lined with NYPD officers and police made 148 arrests, all for minor marijuana offenses. Although down from the past few years, this was more arrests than any other city by far, with the vast majority of events drawing no police interference.

Another city with police overkill was Houston, Texas. Over 20 undercover officers “infiltrated” the crowd at a local pub where about 500 had gathered for a musical “Liberation Day” celebration. The Houston Press reported that the narks pestered everyone in the crowd to sell or share pot or drugs, yet could only score one gram of bud, six ecstasy tablets, and two Xanax. Cops made eight arrests, including Trent Moss, bass player for the band Geek.

Most cities had small gatherings of dedicated activists. For example, in Wichita, Kansas, 35 brave people carrying protest signs marched past the local jail and courts. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a crowd of 100 marched past the Federal Prison to City Hall, and another 100 marched on City Hall in Flint, Michigan.

Californian med-pot icon Dennis Peron spoke before a crowd of 300 in Salt Lake City, Utah, the state in which he was recently busted (CC#36, Low times in Utah).

Canada’s largest rallies were in Vancouver and Toronto. The latter had over 5000 people march and rock to live music. Police didn’t interfere as organizers sparked up a 70 gram joint at 4:20.

In Vancouver, the Million Marijuana March was part of an extra-special wonderfully weedy weekend. Coming smack-dab in the middle of the Cannabis Culture Toker’s Bowl, we had an extra contingent of out-of-towners at our pot parade, culminating in a protest across from the US Consulate.

European adventures

The most heavily harassed European rally was in Paris, France, where the event organizer had his posters and leaflets seized, and was forced to announce a last-minute cancellation due to pressure from local authorities. There were a dozen arrests among those who showed up anyway, but everyone was released within four hours. Despite the problems, about 500 people showed up at an alternate venue, with “drums, big spliffs, and a smiling but tense demonstration.”

About 800 gathered in Helsinki, Finland, for political speeches and peaceful protest. At a smaller rally in Turku, 300 pot-protesters were countered by 10 fundamentalist Christian anti-pot people, wearing black crosses.

Europe’s biggest events were in Rome, Italy, and Vienna, Austria, with massive crowds 10,000 strong in each city, and no reported police interference. In Prague, Czech Republic, 2,000 gathered in a central park, the only arrests were those of neo-Nazis trying to disrupt the event.

World wide weed

In Tel Aviv, Israel, the Green Leaf Party drew 4000 enthusiasts to celebrate pot, peace and human rights. According to party founder Boaz Wachtel, speakers also called for the establishment of a peaceful Palestinian state next to Israel. An event was also held in Jerusalem, which organizers described as “a smoke-in where mystical secrets about marijuana were discussed.”

In Tokyo, Japan, about 800 people enjoyed reggae music, belly dancing, a costume contest and free hemp seed noodles. In Moscow, Russia, six activists gave out leaflets and posters in the subway stations.

The celebratory fun also crossed deep into the Southern Hemisphere, with hundreds gathering at events in Australia, South Africa and Argentina.

In Auckland, New Zealand, the event is dubbed “J-Day,” and about 2000 came to hear music and words of wisdom from speakers including Green Party MP and Rastafarian Nandor Tanczos (CC#27, Parliament’s pot position). Gardening supply chain Switched on Gardener sponsored a “Growers Ironman” and joint rolling contest.

Other countries with participating cities included Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, England, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Switzerland.David Malmo Levine: rallying the masses at Vancouver`s rally.

? Million Marijuana March: www.millionmarijuanamarch.org

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