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.