Cornwall, Ontario: Pot Protest Planned

Protesters calling for the decriminalization of one of Canada’s most readily-available illegal drugs are planning a massive march through Cornwall this weekend. Organizers of the first annual “Walk 4 Weed,” which is being promoted by local pro-pot group Cannabis Cornwall, are hoping at least 400 people will peacefully march through the city Saturday afternoon. “I’d encourage people to bring posters, do face-painting, make this very festive and friendly,” said event spokesperson Jason S.

Posters have gone up around the city, and the event is being heavily promoted through online networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. On the event’s Facebook page, more than 230 people have already said they plan to show up for the rally.

One of the main points the protesters will be making is that it’s hypocritical for a marijuana smoker to be saddled with a criminal record while tobacco and alcohol are both legal, said Jason S. The march will include a stop outside Conservative MP Guy Lauzon’s Pitt Street office, he said.

In 2006, the newly-elected Conservatives refused to resurrect a bill put forward by the previous Liberal government that would have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

“To give a young person or an older person a criminal record for smoking a green leaf that can be grown in a garden – it does seem to be extreme,” said Jason S.

The protesters will need a permit, however, if they’re going to march through the streets and block traffic, said Cornwall Community Police spokesperson Blake Paquin. If they successfully apply for one, they’ll be treated the same as any other large protest or parade – even if they’re advocating for something that’s currently illegal, said Paquin.

But police officers will step in if they see anyone smoking a joint or engaging in criminal behaviour, he added. “People have a democratic right to express their opinion,” said Paquin. “But it has to be done so (lawfully). Possession is still against the law.”

Sending a pro-smoking message of any kind is a step backwards from a public health perspective, said Carolyn Bourassa, unit manager for the local Canadian Cancer Society branch. While researchers haven’t conclusively proven that smoking pot can cause cancer, there are about 50 known carcinogens that marijuana and tobacco share, said Bourassa. “It’s not what we want to see,” she said. “Creating a place for people to smoke is not something we want to do.”

The rally will leave at 1 p.m. on Saturday from the Lamoureux Park band shell.

– Article from Standard Freeholder Newspaper

– You can discuss this article and event by clicking here for the CC Forums conversation