Freedom to hit the bong. Hard.

Posted on May 3rd, 2010 6 great comments. Room for one more!

The fact that is was cloudy and kinda misty and foggy on Saturday was so apropos.

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That little pot rally that happened at Yonge-Dundas Square about a week ago was basically just practice for the main event, the Global Marijuana March and Freedom Festival. The point of the march, as far as I can fathom it, is to demonstrate the futility of existing pot prohibitions. It originally started as a grass roots (haha!) movement but now, well, the word “festival” is appropriate if you ask me. Even if you’re completely against anything marijuana, you must admit that arresting everyone simply wouldn’t be practical. Maybe even possible.

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Last year it was estimated that some 20,000 people attended. This year, a lot. I’m given to understand that the Toronto thing is among the biggest — it is, after all, a global event. It’s gotten big enough to get all manner of unabashed corporate sponsorship:

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This was my first time at the festival, and it didn’t come up short on my expectations. Here a bong, there a bong, everywhere a bong bong. The place was fully ablaze. You could smell it for blocks. Anyone holding a joint or a pipe was clearly green; there were rechargeable vapourizers, hookahs, and bongs with necks so intricate that by the time the smoke reaches the lungs it’s frigid. Yup, people hauled all sort of shit into the park for this lazy hazy Saturday afternoon. I swear some people even made group t-shirts:

global marijuana march, freedom festival, queen's park, toronto, city, life

There was one really unfortunate but entirely preventable incident involving a “man” (they don’t know his age, I’m gonna guess younger and stupider), falling out of a tree. Meh, there’s always an idiot. Other than that, I think everyone had a good time. Great place to meet smiling droopy-lidded people, and also to make some connections for the rest of the year.

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I was surprised to see kids in the crowd, most of them accompanied by adults. I mean, there was lots of fun stuff to look at — “freedom” means lots of things to lots of people, you know? – but it was thick enough in that park to get high just standing around. Don’t think I’d bring my kids until I found them hiding their first stash from me. Ah, rites of passage.

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Actually, that would probably not happen. I’d be very upfront with kids about drugs as early as possible. The truth too, no bullshit. Is a joint any worse than downing a couple of pints of beer or smoking a cigarette? Nah, but all three have consequences – especially for youth. Which is why I’m still all in favour of legalization (and taxation ;) ), but definitely not without controls.

The LCBO has facilities for verifying legal age, and pot doesn’t take up much shelf-space, so legal distribution channels shouldn’t be an issue. Enforcement – what happens when you get caught driving while high, for example — is also extremely important. I’d be in favour of zero tolerance, at least initially (or at least make it zero for everything then): you drive while high / drunk, no more driving for you. Apparently Australia is using roadside breathalysers to detect cannabis so the technology to make this possible exists. (And I’m sure it’ll get better over time.)

In other legal circumstances I think you could treat it like any controlled substance; is coming into work drunk cause to fire someone? Why should pot be any different?

I could be missing a lot in that equation, but so far I haven’t even heard anyone bring up points like these. You know, like, serious discussion on if, and based on that how, it could actually be accomplished. Keeping the public’s (electorates’) best interests at heart, of course.

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But I’m getting a bit off-topic, aren’t I? Pot isn’t always the first thing that jumps to mind for everyone at the mention of the word “freedom”. Some choose to express their freedom in different ways.

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These two cats were all over each other for a few minutes before scampering off into the depths of the festival. Their display was a bit too acrobatic to have been spontaneous animal sex, so I’m guessing performance art of some sort.

And of course, where there’s pot, there’s commies:

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That guy in the brown leather jacket handed me their literature personally. He was wearing simple wire Lennon shades. The gloves on his hands were fingerless. His shoes were plain, nondescript. Red agitator straight out of a frickin’ movie.

Okay, you’d better start this video playing now, it’ll set the context for what’s coming up next.

Playing? Great…

So let’s not forget where commies come from: hippies. I swear there were times when I thought people would bust out spontaneously into song:

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There were plenty of bare feet elsewhere, but for the most part modern hippies are sensible hippies. Probably because their mentors, musicians and poets, are themselves somewhat sensible.

Here is spoken word poet Storm delivering a heartfelt helping of inspiration to the crowd:

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Note how sensibly she’s attired. Huh? Yeah.

But freakin’ great. I don’t mind admitting, dear reader, that at one point during her recitation I choked back a couple of tears. And it wasn’t any rhyming-couplet bullshit either. Storm’s bit consisted of one well-put reminder after another of why it’s great to be alive. Along with broad gestures and a nicely punctuated meter. Terrific stuff.

I wonder, you know, if the laws were changed, how a festival like this could grow. I mean, Caribana is insanity now, but I bet it’d be nothing compared to an annual pot festival held in a nice breezy spot like the Islands. You don’t have to bother the downtown folks out there and it’s already pretty much hippie-central in the summer anyway. Government needs an extra influx of cash? Now it’s a bi-annual event. And stoners are so easy to corral for when the love-in comes to an end, I don’t believe security would be a huge concern.

It could be the dawning of a new age of some sort.

6 Comments on “ Freedom to hit the bong. Hard. ”

  • casie stewart
    May 3rd, 2010 9:50 am

    NEED. ANIMAL. ONESIE.NOW.


    Read more from casie stewart at: http://casiestewart.com
  • Patrick
    May 3rd, 2010 11:30 am

    Yeah, they are pretty hot. :)


  • Grace
    May 4th, 2010 8:39 am

    I remember, back in the day, strolling through Central Park and listening to the vendors hawk their goods "hot dogs, pretzels, corn on the cob, marijuana" and the mounted police just trotting past without the flick of a tail….


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  • Patrick
    May 4th, 2010 1:33 pm

    Thank you for that, Grace. Dunno know how far back in the day is, but let's assume it's enough to make the laws a little silly at this point.


  • Grace
    May 4th, 2010 2:18 pm

    Well I'm 63 years old and it was back when I was young LOL – so 30-40 years or so???


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  • Patrick
    May 5th, 2010 4:58 am

    Fifty is the new thirty, Grace, so that's practically five years ago.


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