Ottawa ON – Approximately 1,400 people gathered on Parliament Hill this Wednesday April 20th, 2011 in support of marijuana legalization, protesting by openly smoking weed. People met under umbrellas and tarps. The weather was hail, wind, rain and finger tip freezing temperatures.
A mainly under 25, mainly female, group stood around the Eternal Flame, passing joints, blunts and bongs.
The RCMP and Ottawa Police and invisibles extended all courtesy. There were no provocations or arrests.
“What are you guys doing here today? What’s going on?” Was my general question.
“Smoking weed,” A group of five chorus.
A man says, “To protest and make it legal of course.”
“Are you new voters?” I asked. There were a lot of potential, first time voters here.
“Yeah. But I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m going to vote.” The man said. “I graduated last year. They’re still going to school.” He said of his friends. I just finished working for the government, actually. I was working for the Federal Government.”
“We’re really hardcore, man. We’re smoking tons.” A man laughed.
“Any new voters here?” I asked walking through the crowd
“I’m never going to vote.” Said a man in his mid-twenties.
“We’re from Russell.” Shouted a bunch beside the flame.
“There was about 8,000 here last year.”
“We just finished a philosophy exam and thought it would be time to celebrate a little. It’s not a bad thing. People have to realize that.” Said a woman sitting on a tarp.
“Are you voting?”
“I don’t know.” She said.
“I haven’t decided yet.” Said another beside her.
“Probably not.” A young woman said.
A man walked through the crowd playing a kazoo. Another man moved through the crowd handing out baggies containing a new package of Zig-Zags and a business card for, Scotties Spot.ca
“We’re born and raised in Ottawa.” Said a spokesman for a group gathered under three umbrellas. Hail stones bounced off.
“It’s my birthday. We’re from Gatineau, Quebec.” A young woman said.
“I’m 19 and I’m going to vote.”
“Why do you suppose so many people here, tell me they’re not going to vote?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Some people are lazy. I don’t know. We all go to school. Hey, why is Marc Emery being held, why isn’t he here?”
A young man passed a bong to his friend. “They’re not educated if they don’t vote. It’s my second time at a 4/20 so I’m surprised to see people out in this weather. It would be nice to see it legal next year.”
Lots of cheering. People are streaming in from all over. Lots of umbrellas.
Three young woman were sitting on a tarp huddled under an igloo of umbrellas. “We’re from the outskirts of Toronto. We were at the Toronto march last year. We traveled all day yesterday to get here. We want to vote but we don’t know who to vote for yet.” A young lady said, on behalf of her two friends who all agreed. “People should care about voting. They should learn and care. I did Katimavic but they cut it back to six months from nine because of government funding. We didn’t get a bursary at the end of the year.”
There were twice as many women as men at this rally. I decided.
A man in his late twenties said, in a loud voice. “Voting is not cool. Voting doesn’t matter. No one that got voted in, told the truth to get voted in. No one. Then within a year we hate them. So it doesn’t matter. There is no point.”
“So why don’t you run for office?” I asked.
“I don’t want that responsibility. Take care of the country? That’s a lot. I don’t want to do it. We’re from Trenton.”
A man from the Marijuana Party in BC held up a large banner, printed ‘ Free Marc Emery. Marijuana Party of Canada.’.
He says, he was thrown off the electoral ticket in BC. “I normally do this in Vancouver. I’m the BC Marijuana Party Whip. I’m here to press charges against the Chief Electoral Officer . He denied me the right to run. I filed in general court there and they sent me two rejection letters. They refused to accept my argument in the Federal Court of Canada.”
A young woman spoke up. “I’m voting Conservative because I’m sick of having elections.”
“I’m not voting Green.” said her friend. “We’re from Toronto. I got a call on my cell and the one in Toronto is about three times bigger.”
“We’re here to make a point.” Said a young man with a goatee. “I think, there is no harm in recreational marijuana usage. I finished school. I work. Maybe some people don’t vote because the western Parliamentary system we use is outdated. It’s been around since 1266 and the riding system just doesn’t work effectively but I don’t know if that many people know that, but I intend to vote, despite the fact that my vote will be thrown away on a third party.”
People cheered. The crowds counted down from ten. More cheering. 4:20 PM had arrived. Hooting and hollering. A haze drifted over the Hill.
Raining. Hail. Windy. Cold. Fingers are freezing.