The Greening of Highway 420

The Greening of Highway 420
Posted by CN Staff on April 21, 2004 at 16:28:15 PT
By Corey Larocque
Source: Niagara Falls Review 
Niagara Falls – A haze in parts of Niagara Falls Tuesday had more to do with scores of marijuana smokers than the mist from the famous waterfalls. On Victoria Avenue, a man stood openly smoking marijuana cigarettes, waving a Canadian flag whose maple leaf was replaced by a hemp leaf. “Hi,” an onlooker said to the man, wearing a colourful hat with a Cannabis Club logo on it.
“High? Yes, I am,” answered Robert Neron, who keeps his cigarettes in a rectangular tin box in his pocket along with the government-issued card that legally permits him to possess and grow marijuana. “Legalization is the only solution to take the crime out of the marijuana thing,” said Neron, who claims to grow “the best in Canada” at his home in Hearst. An ailment that causes involuntary spasms in his neck qualifies Neron to smoke marijuana with the government’s blessing. But it shouldn’t be the sick and dying at the vanguard of the fight to legalize marijuana, Neron said. “Somebody with lots of power needs to do something,” he said. Niagara Falls became the site of Tuesday’s pro-pot rally because of a curious alignment of time and space. Marijuana activists from across Ontario met near Highway 420 for what was billed as a “smoke-out.” Highway 420 runs through the city, connecting the Queen Elizabeth Way to the area around the falls. For pot-smokers, 4:20 p.m. is considered the universal time of day to toke up. They picked Tuesday because it was the fourth month, 20th day. Organizers suggested it could become an annual event. In Niagara, there are about 10 people trying to qualify for an exemption so they would be allowed to smoke freely, said Matt Mernagh, a member of the Niagara Compassion Society. “Marijuana relieves a lot of my pain. It allows me to be a productive member of society,” said Mernagh, who smokes despite not having an exemption. The demonstration was one in a series of demonstrations marijuana activists planned this spring to lobby the federal government to legalize pot for everyone. The next is on Parliament Hill in June. “Legalization is coming, whether they like it or not,” said Alison Myrden, a Burlington woman, one of the first Canadians to be legally permitted to possess marijuana. She smokes marijuana non-stop to relieve her chronic pain from multiple sclerosis and a painful muscular disorder in her face. As the pothead parade made its way through Niagara Falls, it drew some puzzled looks and some cheers from tourists on Clifton Hill. “Free the weed” they chanted as they marched through the city’s popular tourist area. Many drivers honked in approval, signalled a thumbs-up or waved the peace sign to the demonstrators. By the time they reached a parking lot beside the Rainbow Bridge – the beginning of Highway 420, the crowd had grown to more than 200 people. More than a dozen Niagara Regional Police officers kept their eyes on the demonstration, but kept their distance from the crowd. “Our position here is we are a here to keep the peace and make sure nobody gets hurt,” said NRP Insp. Lorne Lillico. Police did not report any arrests. Lillico called it “a very orderly crowd.” But one NRP officer was overheard saying it was “embarrassing for us to be escorting a bunch of these guys.” There were some smokers with cards issued by Health Canada exempting them from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. But the majority of the crowd appeared to be enthusiastic recreational users. “I just like smoking. I finished working for a long day’s work. I like to go home and smoke a nice fat doobie,” said one 18-year-old Niagara Falls man, who declined to give his name. He said it was important to come to the rally to support “what I do.” “I’d like to see it legalized in Canada so I can walk down the street and not worry about it … I’ve got a little bit on me. I’m going to smoke some at 4:20,” he said. Note: Hundreds attend pro-marijuana rally near highway.Source: Niagara Falls Review (Canada)Author: Corey LarocquePublished: Wednesday, April 21, 2004 Copyright: 2004 Osprey Media Group Inc.Contact: citydesk nfreview.comWebsite: Article & Web Sites:Fill The Hill Medical Marijuana Mission Enthusiast Smoke Up In Celebration -- Canada Archives 
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