A police warning appeared to go largely unheeded at a marijuana legalization rally Saturday, as dozens openly smoked the drug in various ways, from bongs to pipes to several types of hand-rolled varieties. Nikolai Momot, president of the Windsor Cannabis Movement which hosted the Marijuana March and rally at the downtown Senator David Croll Park, said police warned him smoking marijuana during the rally is still illegal.
“They said if there’s a need to, they will enforce those laws,” said Momot. “But we’re a harmless movement and no one’s dealing drugs, no one’s too messed up, and so I think the cops see that and they think, ‘We don’t have to enforce this.’” Windsor police Staff Sgt. V. Giampuzzi wouldn’t comment on the apparently illegal display. Momot said the marchers’ message is that marijuana is harmless and that Canadians would be better served if it was legal.
“It’s harmless to society and it’s more harmful with our current approach because it’s only creating a black market that fuels gang-related crimes, weapons, trafficking and a myriad of things that make society worse,” said Momot. About 150 local supporters participated in the demonstration. Momot said the event shows there is a lot of support for changing drug laws, something politicians are ignoring and instead are “causing this wasteful war on marijuana to go on.”
If marijuana was legal, it could be regulated, taxed and would create jobs, said Momot. “Our society would be better served and we would be a lot safer and could improve a lot more things in the city, like paving roads or building schools, if we legalize and tax marijuana,” said Momot. “And that way we can keep it away from kids and bring new jobs to the market with it.”
Momot said the event featured live entertainment, a poetry reading, and a hotbox tent that people entered to smoke marijuana. A hotbox is an airtight space that contains one or more people smoking marijuana. The exhaled smoke cannot escape and thus circulates the space and is inhaled by everyone.
“We wanted people to have a good time while they demonstrate,” said Momot. “That’s the whole point – getting ourselves out there.” Rules for the rally included no alcohol, no sale of drugs, no drugs other than cannabis, no littering, including cigarette butts, and no vandalism. Emily Perry,19, chief marketing officer for the Windsor Cannabis Movement, said prohibition never works.
“We want the cops, the government, everyone to see that this is something that people have anyways, and that’s the purpose of the smoking side of the demonstration – we want them to see that it’s out there whether they like it or not and prohibition just doesn’t work,” said Perry. She said marijuana should be decriminalized because it’s clearly something that many find harmless.
“I think it’s a waste of police and government resources for growing a plant that grows on this earth naturally,” said Perry. “We’re paying for these people to be fed and clothed and washed in prison and it’s not right.” Michelle Metcalfe said cracking down on marijuana users is a waste of time. “I mean there’s more important things police could be doing than chasing people down who have a little bit of marijuana,” said Metcalfe, as she waved a red and white marijuana leaf flag.
“I mean it’s different from other drugs. It’s a calming drug,” said Metcalfe. “I’ve never seen someone get physical or violent while they’re high on marijuana.” Momot said since marijuana is not a hard drug, it’s more similar to alcohol, and yet it’s viewed as and treated as if it is much worse. “If you catch someone and say they’re a regular smoker and they get charged because they have a bit too much, now they have a record for something they did that hurt no one,” he said. “Yet now they’re going to have a much harder time getting a job or an apartment.
“We’re crippling people for just expressing themselves, but we don’t do that for alcohol.” Momot said there’s very little difference between the prohibition on alcohol and the prohibition on marijuana and keeping it illegal is doing more harm than good. “It’s something so ubiquitous in our society and something so universally accepted,” said Momot. “It just doesn’t make sense to keep it illegal.”
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