“Remember when I came here last year with that ounce,” boasted a shirtless teen to his red-eyed friend. “I smoked it all to my face!”
After Toronto’s Global Marijuana March last Saturday, the kids took to Queen’s Park for a relaxing afternoon of peaceful protest via bong hits.
The park was filled with people: dutifully twisting up cannons, punting around hackey sacks, flying their Cannabian flags, eyelids at half-mast. It was as if the high school smoking area and a Hot Topic converged and exploded all over the park.
A girl put the finishing touches on a foot-long joint. “You can make shit like that?” asked a greasy-looking man in a hockey jersey. “You’re looking at it!” she cooed. The teens quietly drifted around, opting to set up camp on piles of wood chips. With all the smoldering roaches, I was thankful it had rained earlier. “Hey! There’s my dealer!” shouted a man with skull beads woven into his goatee. The white dreads, ponchos, and grateful dead bears of my youth had been pared down significantly. It was mostly 17 to 24-year-old suburban dudes in hoodies and skate shoes, with some expander plug earlobe stretchers and hula hoops and Phishheads thrown in for good measure. There was nary a mustache, croquet mallet, or line of cocaine in sight. This was Trinity Bellwoods on opposite day.
“Who are you walking with?” a man asked ominously as he pressed a flier warning about the Illuminati into my hands. A vague sense of paranoia usually accompanies these events. Girls slowly stuffing their faces with ice cream eyed my notepad (suspiciously, I thought). The police gave the tokers in the park a wide berth. A few looked on at the proceedings from afar, amused.
The March is the world’s largest, now in its 15th Year. With marijuana laws in some states trumping our own in terms of laxity, the demand for the protest has not abated. A friend translating for accompanying me tells me this March looks smaller than previous years’.
The sun shone on the statue of Edward the VII’s horse’s butt while people in altered states circled below. Some waved signs that announced Medical Cannibus Safer than Peanuts and The State has No Place in the Rec Rooms of the Nation. A small group formed around a “freestyle footbag” demo – distinct from ordinary hackey sack in that its practitioners wore athletic shorts.
They had come from Barrie, Newmarket, even Montreal. Most sat in clusters, smoking and snacking. The munchies are typical par for the course: a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, a large plastic jug of room-temperature chocolate milk, Crispers, pop rocks. A girl wove through the clusters of people selling her “weedibles” – high-inducing chocolate chip cookies (3 for $10 and 7 for $20). She’s asked if she has any flavored blunts for sale. “Flavored blunts aren’t legal anymore,” she told the glum-looking customer. “They say it makes kids want to smoke or some shit like that.” A man wielding an enormous box of Tim Hortons donuts sauntered up to a couple of bra-less girls and and a guy packing a pipe. “Did you miss the parade man?” “Yah, I was baked. But I got donuts!” he announced, triumphant.
“I’m too stoned to talk to other people,” whispered a youth wearing a “Got Kush?” t-shirt.
“I’m at a really good level, man,” his friend replied.
“They look like I did in high school,” I said “— just slightly dirty and scuffed and… “
“You mean you don’t look like that anymore?” asked my observant companion.
At least I had the wherewithal to wear sunglasses. At 4:19, a cluster of people started whooping and whistling – false start. Finally, at 4:20 the throng broke into applause and cheering. The drum-circle enthusiasts pounded their Djembes with renewed vigor. The cloud of smoke overhead reached critical mass, like an enormous cumulus cloud. A kid with an afro and a Yankees hat regarded an older professor-type strolling by and snickered; “Yo, yo – look at all these innocent people getting fried by accident!” The older man smiled, a knowing smile.