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4/20 activists march down Clifton Hill

By Matt Day, Ottawa Sun

Kelly "Kush" Kirby sees it as a holiday.

April 20, also known as 4/20 among pro-marijuana enthusiasts, isn't just a day to toke up, she said.

"We have to get the word out about marijuana," she said. "It's not just about getting high. It's medication for a lot of people."

Saturday marked the 10th annual anti-prohibition rally in Niagara Falls. Despite cold temperatures, about 50 people marched from Victoria Ave., near the overpass for Niagara Memorial Veterans' Highway (formerly Highway 420) and down Clifton Hill before holding a rally at Queen Victoria Park. They showed their support for pot by waving flags, smoking joints and chanting, "Free the weed!"

Rally organizer Regent Labbe said this year's event received a boost by British Columbia's Bob Erb and his Erb for Herb campaign.

The 60-year-old construction worker won a $25-million lottery in November and said he plans on donating at least $1 million to the Canadian marijuana legalization movement.

Labbe said his group received T-shirts and posters from the campaign.

"We have to dispel the stereotype and show that we are active members of the community and are willing to fight for our rights," said Labbe. "We aren't criminals. We're a bunch of peaceful people."

Despite Canada being seen as a progressive nation when it comes to the legalizing pot movement, it's been the U.S. recently that has gained momentum in the fight.

Last November, Colorado and Washington state voted to end their war on cannabis, with both states moving to develop a distribution system similar to retailing alcohol.

Earlier this week, a bill to reduce penalties for those caught with small amounts of marijuana passed the Vermont House and will be up for debate at the state's senate.

"It's a surprise because we were way ahead of the curve," said Labbe. "Then the Conservative Harper government got in and we're back to square one it seems."

Brian Breen of St. Catharines said he was happy to hear about the gains made in decriminalizing marijuana in the United States.

"If they start legalizing it, we're going to start. We follow the States pretty much," he said. "We need the masses and everyone to get involved to say this is what we want."

The Niagara Falls march was pushed back from a 2 p.m. start to a 3 p.m. start Saturday as guest speakers were delayed.

Niagara Regional Police Staff Sgt. James Mackay said they were aware of the event and that no incidents were reported.

Rallies were held across the world Saturday. Thousands were expected at Parliament Hill for 4/20 celebrations and as many as 80,000 people were expected at a rally in Denver.

matt.day@sunmedia.ca

 

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