Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Easter holiday cited for small legislature crowd

  • Print
Hundreds of people gathered Sunday at the Manitoba legislature to enjoy some pot.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Hundreds of people gathered Sunday at the Manitoba legislature to enjoy some pot. Photo Store

It may be the one day a year when people can smoke marijuana in public without being arrested, but the crowd toking up at the legislature Sunday was thinner than usual.

"I can't believe how light (the crowds are). Probably because it's Easter Sunday," shrugged Rick Starink, a veteran toker who celebrated his 65th birthday with a joint or two Sunday. "Last year, you couldn't see the asphalt or the grass here; I think that was one of the higher turnouts."

The annual Smoke Pot Day, observed in cities across Canada and the United States on April 20, drew an estimated 1,500 to 1,700 smokers and their supporters to the Manitoba legislature. Other years, the crowds have been as thick as the smoke.

The air at the legislature Sunday reeked of marijuana smoke. People were smiling and city police erected roadblocks into the legislature, creating a weird picnic-like atmosphere. A hotdog cart on Broadway at the entrance to the legislature added to the festive feeling.

'I don't know if I'll live long enough to see it legalized. But I can almost smell it'

-- Rick Starink, who lit up his first joint in 1965

Police and provincial corrections officers in uniform maintained a visible presence at the event but stayed upwind and on the sidelines.

The scene resembled Woodstock, without the music -- apart from a guitar-strumming musician or two.

The biggest sound at the event was barking from a lot of dogs, on leashes with their celebrant owners.

One urban legend has it April 20 became Smoke Pot Day because in some parts of the United States the police code 4-20 meant "smoking in progress."

Starink said he lit up his first joint in 1965. Sunday marked a kind of family outing, with his son, 23, and his friends. As the birthday boy shared a joint with the young man, he said he recalled the first time the lad lit up and his reaction to it.

Like some parents with liquor, he put a lid on the experiment: "I told him, 'You want to smoke? We do that here at home.' That way he's not smoking some chemical-treated crap," he chuckled.

"I don't know if I'll live long enough to see it legalized," he sighed. "But I can almost smell it."

Nearby, two cousins from Flin Flon were sharing their own briefer history with the weed. Raymond and Marylee Francoeur, both 16, playfully chimed off a list of benefits, each taking a turn reciting a poetic ode to marijuana.

"Weed should be legalized. It's not a pill." Marylee said.

"It's better than alcohol," her cousin piped in.

Back and forth the pair extolled weed, wrapping up a half-dozen benefits. "And you're happy when you smoke," Marylee smiled.

Colorado legalized the recreational use of pot in 2012, making it, along with Washington, one of two American states to pronounce medical and non-medical smoking legal.

Marijuana use in Canada remains illegal, apart from strictly controlled marijuana permits for medical reasons. Last year in Winnipeg, Canada's chiefs of police urged reform of the country's drug laws, suggesting pot smokers get tickets rather than criminal charges for lighting up.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 21, 2014 A7

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Jet goalie Michael Hutchinson

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • KEN GIGLIOTTI  WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / July 23 2009 - 090723 - Bart Kives story - Harry Lazarenko Annual River Bank Tour - receding water from summer rains and erosion  damage by flood  and ice  during spring flooding -  Red River , Lyndale Dr. damage to tree roots , river bank damage  , high water marks after 2009 Flood - POY
  • June 25, 2013 - 130625  -  A storm lit up Winnipeg Tuesday, June 25, 2013. John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press - lightning

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think the Scottish independence referendum will have an effect in Canada?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google