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Hempology weekly pot rally cancelled indefinitely

By Hempology | November 9, 2007

Victoria Times Colonist, BC
November 08, 2007
Judith Lavoie,

Rowdy drunks put end to weekly smoke-ins

Young, drunken rowdies, disrupting peaceful pot smokers, have killed the Victoria tradition of weekly marijuana rallies.

The pungent smell of pot, drifting over Ted Smith’s Wednesday smoke-ins, has been part of Victoria culture for 12 years.

But yesterday, the last one was held on the steps of the Ministry of Health building on Blanshard Street.

“Drunken kids have ruined it,” said Smith, a marijuana crusader and founder of the Cannabis Buyers Club.

“If we are going to hold a pot rally it has to be safe. Any Wednesday night can now be explosive because young kids come along and just want to party.”

Two weeks ago Smith got his hand smashed against a wall after intervening when one drunk kid took a punch at another.

The streets of Victoria are no longer safe, he said.

“If Hempology 101 can’t stop people from drinking and keep the meetings safe, then the party is over. We don’t want to end up on the front page of the newspaper because someone got hurt.”

The aggressive behaviour illustrates the difference between alcohol and marijuana, Smith said.

“If you had 100 people drinking together it would be horrific. Smoking pot just increases sales at 7-Eleven.”

The atmosphere at the last rally was smoky and sad, with no sign of the disruptive drunks.

Homemade farewell cards piled up in a basket as about 200 people waved the marijuana flag, lit up and offered pot and hugs to friends.

“I’m fighting for the right for people to use a plant — a healing herb,” said Steve Pittner, also known as Walbran Steve, as he leaned on his bike.

The young people will miss the rallies, said the 50-year-old Pittner.

Aubrey Douglas has been coming to the rallies for about five years and has seen the atmosphere change.

“I really miss the old times. It’s very sad,” she said.

It’s a way of meeting people from all over the world, said Ryan Schakohl.

Wheelchairs, with puffing occupants, ringed the group.

No, it’s not for pain, said Wayne Robinson, reclining in his wheelchair.

“I like the high.”

Over the years, police have developed a hands-off attitude, although bike patrols often show up to observe.

A couple of possession charges were laid after a meeting several years ago, but no one has been convicted for possession at the meetings, Smith said.

“We have held joint-rolling, pipe and bong contests … and smoked large amounts of the herb at these meetings,” he said.

Victoria police Sgt. Grant Hamilton, tiptoeing carefully between the issues, said it is unfortunate that a few individuals have taken advantage of the rallies, even though pot smoking is illegal.

“Ted Smith has always been co-operative and peaceful in his protest, which we appreciate. We have co-existed and recognize what he is striving for,” he said.

Drunken youths are not a general problem around town, Hamilton said.

“We’re not seeing roving groups of drunken kids causing havoc every night.”

Meanwhile, Smith plans to ramp up some of his other activities and next Thursday will be holding a noon rally for International Medical Marijuana Day.

And, it may be, that someone else will pick up the rallies where Smith has left off.

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