Ottawa 4/20 Rally On Parliament Hill Draws Over A Thousand Brave And Cold Under Freezing Rain & Hail – Photos and story by Spanner McNeil – April 20, 2011 4:20

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


“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.

KAV Productions


  1. Imagine 8000 participants last year but only about 1000 this year. POT is a dying thing it seems.

  2. Um, no. Stonners just wanted to stay warm and smoke indoors, dumbass. It was raining and hailing. XXXX people are stupid..

  3. Only the hardcore stoners showed up to show their support for the eventual legalization of marijuana. No, they were not “too doped up” to get out of the rain, everyone pays attention to the forecast, and most people brought umbrellas. It’s ignorant people like you who are the reasons why legalization hasn’t caught on, someone who has probably never tried the herb itself. We all know prohibition just funds criminal organizations… why doesn’t the government take those funds and get homeless people off the streets?

  4. Too funny… Ok so 1 in 8 hard-core stoners came out in the rain. Many, many, many more stayed home but feel the same way about things. We’ve had Gen X and Gen Y, is this Gen W (Weed)?

  5. Many thanks to all that attended, wish I could have. I think Joe Rogan tells a good story about the war on pot. Google video him… just add marijuana and you will find the possible reasons for government and big business to fund the war. Harper wants more prisons and more police. Get out and vote! Drag your friends out to vote. People….do you know that only about 1/2 the voters actually vote and you can guess that they like the liberals or the conservatives. If you don’t vote you are agreeing with the government/big business conspiracy. Demand an end to lobbying and yes to referendums. Let the people speak! We are smarter than we act and we need to act to avoid becoming property of the system. Damit VOTE!
    Make the changes we need which are more freedom and personal security and less prisons and more integration.
    Peace and Love

  6. Oh the great god of Pot – you can solve all our problems! Smoke, smoke, smoke until…, in the end no one will care. Isn’t that what pot does for you? Been there, done it! By the goodness and grace of God I have some brain cells left, did not fry them all.

  7. I know all kinds of people who have been enjoying the herb since the sixties. They include engineers, lawyers, nurses, doctors, plumbers, computer programmers, and on and on. Like anything else, it’s not good for everybody, and if done to excess, it can be a problem. And none of these people I know are half as crazy as the preacher.

  8. Pastor Tom sometimes its as though you had no brain cells at all.
    Ignoramus you are obviously not the only ignoramus here.

  9. I can’t express how much I detest marijuana but yet encourage the unnamed man who says, “To protest and make it legal of course.”

    Well played sir.

  10. Specifically enjoy the Cadpat pants.

  11. Thank you Furtz and Antipasta for your kind, loving words – Mat 7:12 “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets”.

  12. Dear friends,

    In days, a group of powerful world leaders will ask the UN to end the war on drugs and move towards regulation. But politicians say that the public will not support alternative drug policies. Let’s give this unique opportunity massive public support and get urgent action. Sign below, and tell everyone:

    In days, we could finally see the beginning of the end of the ‘war on drugs’. This expensive war has completely failed to curb the plague of drug addiction, while costing countless lives, devastating communities, and funneling trillions of dollars into violent organized crime networks.

    Experts all agree that the most sensible policy is to regulate, but politicians are afraid to touch the issue. In days, a global commission including former heads of state and foreign policy chiefs of the UN, EU, US, Brazil, Mexico and more will break the taboo and publicly call for new approaches including decriminalization and regulation of drugs.

    This could be a once-in-a-generation tipping-point moment — if enough of us call for an end to this madness. Politicians say they understand that the war on drugs has failed, but claim the public isn’t ready for an alternative. Let’s show them we not only accept a sane and humane policy — we demand it. Click below to sign the petition and share with everyone –if we reach 1 million voices, it will be personally delivered to world leaders by the global commission:

    For 50 years current drug policies have failed everyone, everywhere but public debate is stuck in the mud of fear and misinformation. Everyone, even the UN Office on Drugs and Crime which is responsible for enforcing this approach agrees — deploying militaries and police to burn drug farms, hunting down traffickers, and imprisoning dealers and addicts – is an expensive mistake. And with massive human cost — from Afghanistan, to Mexico, to the USA the illegal drug trade is destroying countries around the world, while addiction, overdose deaths, and HIV/AIDS infections continue to rise.

    Meanwhile, countries with less-harsh enforcement — like Switzerland, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Australia — have not seen the explosion in drug use that proponents of the drug war have darkly predicted. Instead, they have seen significant reductions in drug-related crime, addiction and deaths, and are able to focus squarely on dismantling criminal empires.

    Powerful lobbies still stand in the way of change, including military, law enforcement, and prison departments whose budgets are at stake. And politicians fear that voters will throw them out of office if they support alternative approaches, as they will appear weak on law and order. But many former drugs Ministers and Heads of State have come out in favour of reform since leaving office, and polls show that citizens across the world know the current approach is a catastrophe. Momentum is gathering towards new improved policies, particularly in regions that are ravaged by the drug trade.

    If we can create a worldwide outcry in the next few days to support the bold calls of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, we can overpower the stale excuses for the status quo. Our voices hold the key to change — Sign the petition and spread the word:

    We have a chance to enter the closing chapter of this brutal ‘war’ that has destroyed millions of lives. Global public opinion will determine if this catastrophic policy is stopped or if politicians shy away from reform. Let’s rally urgently to push our hesitating leaders from doubt and fear, over the edge, and into reason.

    With hope and determination,

    Alice, Laura, Ricken, Maria Paz, Shibayan and the whole Avaaz team


    Reports that show the war on drugs has failed:

    Reports that show alternative approaches of decriminalisation and regulation are working:

    General report on drug law reform in practice:

    The Global Comission on Drug Policy that will call on the UN to end the war on drugs

    Drug War by the Numbers

    Final Report of the Latin American Comission on Drugs and Democracy

  13. When you can guarantee that children will not smoke marijuana nor be able to get their hands on it, then I can see the argument for legalization. Not before!

  14. There are no guarantees in life Stan. There are no guarantees that children will not get their hands on marijuana or alcohol or cigarettes or Conservative propaganda or any other harmful items that could screw up their little minds and bodies for a lifetime.

  15. Sums up what? The government actually listening to the people by providing a federal exemption to relax laws that allow illegal or controlled drugs like heroin, cocaine and morphine, then stop?
    Using articles from the Citizen does sell alot to me.

    1.8 million “visits” to the Vancouver facility since 2003 works out to 225,000 a year. In 2010 the number was 312,214 so are they seenig less? That would be a a concern for me, as the social workers should be working themselves out of a job, not continuing to keep one.
    And are taxpayers paying for the drugs and buildings and people for this 3 million dollar “operational” budget and not having less visits?

    I just don’t see the numbers to support the program, but will look a bit deeper.

    I would like to see thousands of success stories of people not being on drugs any more and are now working and paying tax.

  16. It sums up the hard right ideology of the Reform Party that swallowed up the Progressive Conservative Party. They ignore evidence, scientific or otherwise, and do what feels good to them and their base supporters. Just look to the south to see how the “war on drugs” and the “lock ’em up and throw away the key” system has worked out. The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and a violent crime rate about ten times higher than ours. The Reformatories seem determined to have Canada adopt the US model, no mater the cost or outcome.

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