420 Toronto 2014 | Sunday April 20th 2014 | Yonge & Dundas Square Noon to 6:00pm | @420toronto #420to
SUN NEWS Toronto marks 4/20 with Dundas Square rally
BY KEVIN CONNOR, TORONTO SUN FIRST POSTED: SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2014 12:31 PM EDT | UPDATED: SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2014 07:13 PM EDT
TORONTO – Thousands of marijuana activists gave new meaning to “Easter grass” on Sunday.
Yonge-Dundas Square was the smoky site for Toronto’s eighth annual 4/20 demonstration, a global event pushing for the legalization of pot.
In Canada, groups in Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary and Halifax all took a hit from a joint at 4:20 p.m. in their times zones to show solidarity for the April 20th pro-pot rallies.
“I’m optimistic marijuana will be legal in my life time. People said it wouldn’t, but things are moving forward in places,” Toronto 4/20 organizer Chris Goodwin said, pointing to the fact that pot was recently legalized in Colorado.
“We started out with a dozen people and now we get thousands of people who are motivated for meaningful change.”
Some critics of marijuana say it is a gateway drug that is as dangerous as heroin.
“There is no scientific evidence that it is a gateway drug,” fellow organizer Matt Mernagh said. “The dealer is the gateway. The illegal market dealer doesn’t check ID and young kids can get it.”
Although federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay has said no to legalization, the 4/20 group is pleased that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is in favour of ending the pot prohibition and that former Ontario health minister George Smitherman has applied for a licence to become a medical marijuana producer.
“I think it is awesome when politicians get on board and I think it is all because of these rallies,” Mernagh said.
What would a pro-pot rally be without some political jokes, with Mayor Rob Ford being the butt of a one or two.
“When he is running from the drug cops, it’s just Etobicoke’s version of Baywatch,” one comedian said on the main stage.
Upwards of 50 Toronto Police officers were on hand to monitor the rally. One sergeant said they were keeping to the sidewalk perimeter to avoid second-hand smoke.
Organizers said 1,200 free joints were handed out, and baked goods were also on hand. Attendees were warned to pace themselves as it would be unclear how potent a brownie or cookie could be and it was going to be a long rally.
Live coverage from the event (Mobile-friendly link):
Pot protesters gather in Yonge-Dundas Square for 420
04/20/2014 03:16 PM Bruce Cheadle, The Canadian Press
Frisbees, hula hoops, reggae and the slightly skunky aroma of burning bud masked a serious policy dispute Sunday afternoon on Parliament Hill.
The annual day of celebrating cannabis culture has ramped up into mainstream political activism as the pot-smoking 4/20 movement took on marijuana prohibition with rallies across Canada.
In Toronto, people started gathering around noon Sunday in Yonge-Dundas Square for the annual April 20 event, when pot activists traditionally partake at 4:20 in the afternoon. The demonstration is expected to last until 6 p.m.
“I think the policy edge has always been there. It’s just more and more people are getting fed up with the status quo,” said John Albert, a former Marijuana Party candidate, as he sat amidst a crowd that police estimated was more than 2,000 on the front lawn under the Peace Tower.
Recent legalization in Colorado and Washington State has opened the eyes of governments and businesses to the financial possibilities of a legal trade in marijuana, a commodity that’s too often linked to either organized crime or glass-eyed slackers.
“We would like a choice,” said Albert. “I think what is happening in Colorado and Washington has kind of crystallized it in people’s eyes. They see that it’s a real thing, that legalization can work, and be a benefit to not just people who smoke cannabis but to just regular taxpayers.”
After years of glacially slow movement on the decriminalization or legalization policy fronts, pot activist Jodie Emery says there’s been a huge spike in interest as the American state experiment plays out.
“I can tell you from my spot as being a pot activist for 10 years in Vancouver, the last year has been insane — even in Canada — with respect to licensed providers and all these companies trying to be the next big thing,” Emery said in a telephone interview from Vancouver.
“We’ve won over the Man and the establishment. You know, they’re on our side. And it is definitely financially motivated.”
The 4/20 moniker dates back to the pot culture of California in the early 1970s, but it became formally attached to April 20 when a group of Vancouver activists held the first day-long rally in 1995.
Rallies have been held every April 20th for 20 straight years since then and have spread across Canada and across the globe.
Local 4/20 organizers were advertising events from Whitehorse to Halifax, Iqaluit to Windsor, Ont., in Dallas, Texas, and Birmingham, Ala., London, Belfast, Reykjavik, Aukland, Lima and Cape Town, South Africa, to name just a few.
Hundreds turned out at rallies in Vancouver and Toronto.
Ray Turmel, 62, wandered Parliament Hill holding a large plastic freezer bag filled with enough marijuana buds to warrant a trafficking charge, in other circumstances.
Turmel is among those medical pot users who are fighting in Federal Court to retain the right to grow their own, a practice the Conservative government wants to end under a new medical marijuana policy that would license, regulate and industrialize all growers.
“I’m one of the old guys. We’re fighting for the right to keep using it and keep growing it ourselves,” said Turmel, before lifting his bag of homegrown out of the reach of someone asking for tester.
Good-humoured RCMP officers watched the sedate scene with apparent bemusement as clouds of marijuana smoke drifted down the wind.
“This is an annual event that has always been held in a peaceful manner,” said spokeswoman Cpl. Lucy Shorey.
“Usually at about 4:20 p.m. protesters will be exercising their right to, uh, light up, if you want,” she said. “The RCMP respects the rights of individuals to protest on Parliament Hill and that’s what we’re here for today.”
Shorey would not venture into policy territory, or comment on the juxtaposition of thousands of people openly committing a Criminal Code offence while sandwiched between RCMP cruisers and the House of Commons that legislates the law.
But Albert, the former Marijuana Party candidate, said it highlights political hypocrisy.
“It’s a credit to the cannabis community in a way that, even though we’re persecuted, we’re put in jail, we’re constantly demonized by society, we can gather here on the front lawn of the highest parliament in the land and openly defy the law with no fear — because we know that we have truth on our side,” he said.
“We’re not dangerous criminals. We’re just regular law-abiding citizens otherwise who just enjoy cannabis.”
With files from Toronto Staff
Marijuana advocates gather across Canada for 420 rally
Bruce Cheadle, CP24
Published Sunday, April 20, 2014 12:50PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, April 20, 2014 6:53PM EDT
Thousands of people took part in a rally in support of marijuana legalization Sunday. CP24’s Arda Zakaraian reports.
Marijuana enthusiasts gather at Dundas Square today for the annual 420 event. A woman smokes a joint at the 4/20 marijuana rally in Toronto on Sunday, April 20, 2014. Ten Thousand light up at 4:20 on 4/20 in Dundas Square. They say they’re pushing for Legalization of marijuana @CP24
The term “420? has to be unquestionably the most familiar turn of phrase used among pot-partakers all around the world. Most of us involved in the marijuana consuming community are aware of the most popular version of how the term came to be, but there are still a bong-load of misconceptions revolving around the term’s supposed derivation.
The seemingly most agreed upon adaptation involves a group of ganja-tokin’ teenagers that attended the San Rafael High School in California back in the 1970s.
The group of pubescent pot smokers referred to themselves as the Waldos due to their chosen hangout spot located outside their high school, a wall.
And just what time did the Waldos meet after being dismissed from school for the day? Yup, you guessed it! 4:20pm. And so, in a nutshell, the term “420? was by all accounts born.
The term “420? has to be unquestionably the most familiar turn of phrase used among pot-partakers all around the world. Most of us involved in the marijuana consuming community are aware of the most popular version of how the term came to be.
Regardless of how the phrase truly came about, in Toronto, it is here to stay. And for the majority of marijuana smokers it is 4:20 all day every day or it’s always 4:20 somewhere and the term will irrefutably be a part of the marijuana subculture’s vocabulary for at least another 420 years, give or take.
Follow @bcheadle on Twitter
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Pot protests across Canada
Hundreds gather in Toronto
Posted on 4/20/2014 1:52:00 PM by NEWSTALK 1010
An annual day of celebrating cannabis culture is ramping up into mainstream political activism as the pot-smoking 420 movement takes on marijuana prohibition with rallies across Canada.
Police are advising motorists to steer clear of Parliament Hill in the national capital as a large demonstration is expected for the annual April 20 event, when pot activists traditionally partake at 4:20 in the afternoon.
In Toronto, the event is being held at Yonge-Dundas square with thousands of people taking part.
The 420 moniker dates back to the pot culture of California in the early 1970s, but it became formally attached to April 20 when a group of Vancouver activists held the first day-long rally in 1995.
Anti-prohibition activist Jodie Emery says recent legalization in two U.S. states has opened the eyes of governments and businesses to the financial benefits of a legal trade in marijuana.
And she says that has given the annual 420 rallies _ which have now gone global _ a renewed emphasis on influencing government policy.
As Emery puts it, “we’ve won over the Man and the establishment.”
Toronto 420 – A rally to legalize cannabis
By: Peter Howell, Published on Tue Apr 20 2014
TORONTO – Thousands of pot-smoking protestors gathered at Yonge-Dundas Square (and Parliament Hill, among many other sites around the world) to protest the criminalization of cannabis, and to have a few tokes with friends.