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Two people arrested at opening of pot café

By Hempology | November 30, 2003

From the Times Colonist, November 30th, 2003

MONTREAL (CP) – Police arrested two people on Saturday as dozens of people celebrated
the opening of a pot cafe by passing around joints and breathing in air thick with
marijuana smoke.

Several police officers from a station less than a block away squeezed into Chez Marijane
and arrested two men who were holding joints, said Huge St-Onge, president of the Bloc
Pot party.

“To tell you the truth, I’m surprised,” St-Onge said when reached on his cell phone
at the police station where he was helping two men, aged 26 and 51.

“It’s a waste of their time, a waste of money. But it’s simple possession and it’s illegal.”

One of the men arrested has multiple sclerosis, he added.

The cafe does not sell pot but poeple can bring their own to smoke, said St-Onge,

who called the day a success despite his arrestes.

“Only about two or three people left because of the police, the rest are still there.”

Before police arrived, customers and cafe volunteers sipped coffee, passed joints and
revelled in having a place they could congregate to smoke dope.

Serge Granger said not evne the cold, snowy weather could keep him away.

“We need transparency when it comes to drugs,” he said, cradling his 14-month-old
daughter in his arms.

“Drugs need to be out in the open if we are going to deal with the problem.”

Antoine Debast, 23, peered through the thick haze of smoke at the café’s
hustle and bustle and described the atmosphere as “more like a rave than a cafe”.

Police had the cafe under surveillence all afternoon.

A police spokesman would not say why they decided to go in when they did or if they
would return today.

“I can’t comment on that but the cafe will be visited in a regular fashion in order
to enforce the law,” Const. Michel Kriaa said.

Police said two children, aged between two and five, were present when they entered.
Quebec’s child-protection agency was informed.

Earlier, St-Onge was all smiles as he cut a red, black and green ribbon and declared the
cafe officially open.

“It’s time to stop the persecution,” St-Onge said on the cafe steps as trucks passed by
honking support.

“Here at Chez Marijane (people) can come to cexpress themselves and share their culture
in a friendly and secure environment.”

Organizers’ plans to open a pot cafe at a nearby location last September drew howls of
protest from the landlord an dnearby businesses.

The building housing Chez Marijane previously was home to a club that provided pot to
the seriously ill. Nearby businesses said they weren’t worried about the cafe taking its

“Look at all the bars around here,” said Yves Martel, owner of a nearby art gallery,
as he waved his arm toward the street.

“I’m more worried about the people who come out of them drunk, aggressive and vomiting
all over the sidewalk.

“I’ve got no problem with (Chez Marijane) being there.”

St-Onge said the cafe will be open to “members.” Day-long ememberships will cost about
$1, with year-long memberships costing as little as $5. Coffee, juice and snacks will
be available for a donation, he said.

“Above all this is a place to kmeet and exchange ideas,” St-Onge said.

“And it people want to smoke a joint while they’re doing it, it’s fine. We’re not
here to encourage it or discourage it.”

Similar cafes have been opening across Canada after rulings by courts in Ontario,
P.E.I. and New Brunswick this year that ruled charges for simple possession of marijuana
were unconstitutional.

The Cannabis Cafe in Saint John, N.B., which opened in April, allows people to bring
their own marijuana to smoke along with a cup of coffee.

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