Article by Jane Stevenson, Toronto Sun
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.
Truer words were never spoken as thousands of pot enthusiasts lit up at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square on Friday afternoon for the world’s annual 4/20 worship of weed and civil disobedience protest — expected to be the last before pot becomes legal in Canada.
As organizer-comedian Mike Riti counted down to the actual time of 4:20 p.m., joints of all sizes — including one giant 56 gram blunt — were sparked in unison while East Coast rapper Classified’s Oh…Canada was cranked from the PA system.
The big difference for this year’s smoke show was a change of location as organizer Chris Goodwin said crowds of between 15,000 to 20,000 had outgrown Yonge-Dundas Square where it was held previously.
However, the city refused to grant a permit for Nathan Phillips Square, which can hold 50,000 people, due to municipal bylaws against smoking of either cigarettes or cannabis. So instead of having live music, food trucks and vendor tables, it was basically people standing or sitting around enjoying pot with the occasional speaker.
“Denying us a permit on a year where (pot, soon to be legalized in Canada) is so influential, where for us this might be one of the final ones where it is a protest,” said Goodwin. “As the growing and retail has been commercialized and corporatized by large interests in government monopolies so maybe events like this where next April, it might be like a beer garden where everyone’s provided the Budweiser of cannibas.”