Traumatized Toronto Tokers Toke On

I’m both devastated and elated about Apr. 20, 2010. By now you’ve read about a gang banger wielding a gun not ganja during Toronto’s 420 smoke out. Sadly, it’s national news. Up until that point Toronto Hash Mob 4/20 Yonge and Dundas Smoke Out was going more amazing than ever dreamed. The sea of green people is unlike Toronto has ever seen for a rally.

TheCrowdOn420: Protesters Puff Proudly After Gun ScareTheCrowdOn420: Protesters Puff Proudly After Gun ScareMother nature demonstrated she loves T-Dot potheads by blessing us with sun, sun, sun. Not a cloud in the sky until 420 when an incredible plume of pot went up over Canada’s busiest intersection. We joke Toronto Island Airport had to ground flights because the marijuana smoke over downtown was volcanic ash intense.

Two hours twenty minutes earlier Toronto Hash Mob made a grandiose TNA Impact wrestler like entrance. Marching down Canada’s longest glitz strip Yonge St. with a dozen weed flags waving, three megaphones blaring and plenty of buds blazing.

Truly a spectacle.

We protest sans permit.

Yonge and Dundas Square is a for profit public space. Making it very inaccessible to activists of all stripes. That said, we took to the stage, where some pothead protesters were waiting. The space around us was quickly filling up as those on the sidelines joined in.

The rules were explained. Get high. Be peaceful. Celebrate 420. Then the public puffing began.

Maddchronic demonstrated with Cropaganda zine editor Sol how to do solar bong rips. Maddchronic and I did a bit about how to grow marijuana plants on your balcony and not get caught. We spoke about Marc’s extradition. Composter did some talking.

We were having a ganja good ole time. Composter: Toronto Hash Mob's Composter Put Up Plenty of PostersComposter: Toronto Hash Mob's Composter Put Up Plenty of Posters

Media had been going gonzo with smoke out and marijuana legalization talk all morning. The day before, daily Toronto Sun, who has covered our activities since our days as Hamilton Hash Mob, gave us pre protest props. Classic rock Q107 morning show host Derringer and Jack FM were giving us plenty of pre protest hype too. All news 640 AM was doing an awesome anti-smoke out tirade.

I did live to air from Yonge & Dundas Square on 1010 CFRB at 3 and then television news CP24 at 3:10. Goodster did a CP24 live set at 3:40.

Our rally was growing like a marijuana plant.

Potheads of all types just kept arriving!

Media helped, but mobile devices played an even bigger role. People we’re texting, FaceBook status updating and Twittering furiously to get their friends to the premier doobie destination.

I was mingling with potheads all afternoon.

It was 4 p.m. on my cellphone when I got to thinking it was going to take me at least 10 minutes to get to the stage from where I was.

When The Lone Gunman happened.

My first instinct was we’re getting raided. Or maybe the riot police had shown up due to our attendance being four times what its anticipated size. Mernahuana Composter Maddchronic: Mernahuana Maddchronic ComposterMernahuana Composter Maddchronic: Mernahuana Maddchronic Composter

The problem was far to my left. Stage right.

A sea of people were moving like a flock of birds.

Considering moments early these potheads were barely able to holler “420!”

I was rushing towards Goodster, who was on the stage, in Matrix slow motion time.

Goodster was yelling, “Please stop fighting.”

It was chaos, but I couldn’t see shit from the stage.

My Montebello training kicked in.

On our brand new mega megaphone I began shouting, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” A group less than two minutes earlier unable to chant “420!” had become livid. Quickly taking back their rally.

I learned fast thinking Isreal Innis disarmed a gun totting gang banger. Toronto Police Service credit a citizen for disarming a gunman in Yonge and Dundas Square where a nearby marijuana rally was happening.

Media went from chilling with happy pot pranksters to fearful. They did run immediately in the direction where a gun was found. Much to their bemusement we went right back to protesting.

Though it seemed to last forever, we didn’t miss 420.

Goodster: Goodster Celebrates 420Goodster: Goodster Celebrates 420Goodster did a great spiel about Jack Herer. We managed to even get in a moment of silence from 419 to 420. Without a sound system there was no way you could have heard us even in the middle of the crowd, let alone at the back.

Herer must have been watching over 4000 Toronto tokers because only a few bongs were broken. Some weed got scattered. But no one was killed or seriously injured.

Even in our darkest moment, think Altamont, Woodstock II, Montebello, we remained calm and protested on.
Let’s not remember 4/20/10 as The Lone Gunman. He doesn’t deserve it. If you’re a little thunderstruck from the incident that’s normal.

I know I am.

But don’t let this one nut job ruin what was the best rally Toronto has seen since its Rochdale days.

I’m ready to start feeling good about 4/20/10.

If you had an awesome time and you’re attending 4/20/11 leave the comment 420.

Matt Mernagh
Matt Mernagh

Matt Mernagh is author of Marijuana Smoker's Guidebook The Easy Way To Identify and Enjoy Marijuana Strains ( by Green Candy Press and hosts a weekly weedy webcast The Menahuana Zone on Pot.TV every Tuesday. The Mernagh Ruling is a test case of Canada's cannabis laws and was spearheaded by Mernagh, lawyer Paul Lewin and 22 witnesses from across Canada.



  1. Anonymous on

    “Especially considering he was black also doesn’t surprise me”
    Wow.. i can’t believe you said that. Vancouver, if that is of course what you meant to say when you said b.c, isn’t any better than toronto. guns and gangs is what you get in big cities around the world, it’s not unique to toronto.
    Get over this Vancouver/Toronto rivalry.

  2. Roxanne on

    Best 420 to date! Spent with great people on such a beautiful, sunny day! Im lookin forward to the GMM! One Love!

  3. NewCannabian on

    The gunman was caught and arrested and is facing 13 weapons charges.

    I think the point of Mernaugh’s blogpost is that it’s disappointing to the organizers how their accomplishment in getting more than 2,000 people out to smoke up peacefully in the city’s busiest public space was completely erased by all the media attention given to the lameass gangbanger. It’s true that in the media coverage of the event, the point of demonstrating to end prohibition got lost when the protest was reported on as a background event and the gunman as the newsworthy story.

  4. Anonymous on

    Considering there have been
    fatal drive-by shootings at
    funerals for other gang
    shooting victims…

    one gun in a pot rally with thousands
    of beligerant stoners doesn’t really surprise me.
    Especially considering he was black
    also doesn’t surprise me.

    Petty gangs in toronto trying to act
    like theyre tough by bringing a gun
    to a pot rally.. its pathetic but
    not surprising for Toronto.

    why i’ll never move back.

  5. Truth Seeker on

    ok upon searching more reliable sources
    i found an article on saying
    a 33 year old man was charged by toronto police.
    some say the gun went off.. others say it didn’t.

    Get the whole story straight next time
    before blogging it. And stop trying
    to defend marijuana as if its the saviour
    of the worlds problems.. Don’t get me wrong
    I love weed.. and my freedom.. but I think
    you all smoke a little too much.

    This was delayed some as bystanders jumped on the alleged gunman and attended to another man who was bleeding profusely from his head — allegedly after being pistol-whipped.

    Toronto Police, who had been stationed along the Yonge St. edge of the square and had (by order) turned a blind eye to countless drug-use infractions for several hours, suddenly were thrust into this dramatic situation — making the arrest and cordoning off that section of the square.

    A 33-year-old was charged.

    The alleged victim (Tha Genius) and one of the citizens who helped tackle the alleged gunman (Billy Burnz) are part of a rap group called Certified Cash Corporation.

    After all the dust settled, the gun just sat on the ground next to a bench for 45 minutes.

  6. Anonymous on

    was the gunman arrested ?

    seems like his name and his
    face would be in the news
    if this was for real.

    im a little reluctant to believe
    there was any real threat.

  7. Anonymous on

    Any word of what happened
    to the gun man or the gun itself?

    i am in disbelief.

  8. NewCannabian on

    The Hash Mob did a fabulous job of occupying public space and getting people out to peacefully demonstrate. These were record numbers, exponentially more people who attended the early 4/20 smokeouts.

    I was one of the people caught in the crush on the ground when folks started to panic and run. I got banged around pretty badly, but understand how much worse it could have turned out. I’m grateful to the man who disarmed the gangbanger and appreciate the courage of the demonstrators who wouldn’t be deterred.

  9. Jay Dell on

    My Montebello training kicked in

    Yes the instigators are a rabid animal with a tactic of stirring up a whole bunch of freebirds into a frenzy of disater.The boots and the hearts of this animal have only one agenda to crush are heads into the ground and break our hearts till they hurt.
    The bond of the spirit of one love thru the divine herb is alife and it is growing every minute and they cant stop it with peaceful means so they cause a cautic frenzy for the mass hype of media and bleeding hearts of the greater vision holders of the police state controled system.
    If it was a free and democratic society no one would ever be punished or harmed for a plant.
    The heads in T.O are to me commended on a well controlled event.
    Peace and Pot

  10. Malice on

    Thank you hash mob for helping to calm everyone. I was right infront of the stage and got to see that really scary sight when a crowd rushes in your direction. We heard “gun gun gun” and I really thought it was going to end in violence. I totally thought it was the police at first until we heard someone screaming gun. Thankfully 420 still went on and we made our voices heard with no one getting hurt. Ironically I wont forget that fear and hearing someone scream gun, while Give Peace A Chance played.

  11. Jay Dell on

    I smell the wind of change coming !!!!
    Sweet Sweet is the air of freedom …
    Life is good my friend

  12. The Kush Kitten on

    Way to take responsible smokers back a little.. Stupid gunman.
    Wish I could have made it to a protestival, this past 420.

  13. MaddChronic on


    Next year the Lone Gunman will be celebrating 420 in Kingston.
    Can’t wait till 420 2011!