At High Noon on Saturday, May 3, 2014, over 25,000 people gathered in downtown Toronto for the 16th annual Global Marijuana March (GMM). The peaceful gathering marched in protest of recent changes to Health Canada’s Medical Marijuana program and the Federal government’s new mandatory minimums for marijuana possession.
Last year’s GMM drew an impressive 25,000 medical and recreational supporters and enthusiasts, and this year was no different. Since last year many victories have been won for sensible drug policy in the United States and elsewhere. It’s time for Canada to catch up. Fittingly, the slogan of this year’s march was “It’s Time!”
Before and after the march, there was a giant smokey gathering of medical and recreational marijuana users in Queen’s Park. In recent years, the City of Toronto has disallowed permits, leaving the park with no real entertainment or even a stage for speakers. A speech or two was made by Matt Mernaugh, local advocate, author and politician, pushing for change and urging people to vote. The lack of legal vendors and police inside Queen’s Park creates a ramshackle market of people selling their edibles, oils, t-shirts and wall hangings, giving a glimpse into the future world of regulated marijuana. This year, the food trucks have also caught on, a number waiting just outside the park to satisfy the crowd’s munchie needs.
On this overcast Saturday afternoon, tens of thousands made their own party. Burning their favourite herb, playing music, discussing their favourite strain or the benefits of specialty THC oils for arthritis. Everyone is friends here and its easy to forget you’re standing in the middle of 10,000 people. In it’s 16 year history, the event has not had a single arrest.
At 2 PM the march began, thousands streaming down Bloor Street playing reggae music, singing, chanting and enjoying the startled looks of unsuspecting passersby. Many carry signs or flags demanding changes to our drug policies. Some want legalization and regulation, others simply want legal access to their medicine, but everyone here agrees the current laws are wrong.
The smokey snake makes it way through downtown Toronto spreading love, joy and hopefully some knowledge about sensible drug policy. Spirits are high as joints are passed around and chants of “Free Weed!” and “Free Marc Emery!” ring down Young street. It’s Time!
Young and old from all across the province gather together to show that marijuana is not the harmful, deadly drug our government sees it to be. It is, for many people, medicine and contributes greatly to their health. Others simply enjoy getting high, watching a movie and eating a bag of Doritos. Everyone attending the Global Marijuana March is asking the same thing: Should either one be a criminal offence?