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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hash Mob smokes up Dundas Square

By MATT MERNAGH
NOW Magazine (Toronto)



Tokers turned Dundas Square into a pot patio Friday, April 20.
Photo By R. Jeanette Martin

Madd chronic and I arrive for our first officially announced Out Yourself Smoke Out, a 420-joint circle at 4:20 pm on April 20.

Founder of the Toronto Hash Mob (THM), Madd Chronic once dreamed of smoking at the centre of the universe, wherever that is. But we've settled on Dundas Square and have already notified police and square management that this is no festival, it's a protest.

No sound system, no booths selling stuff, no permit needed. Madd Chronic howls when I tell him I identified my occupation as "coach" of the THM on the Toronto Police Service's notice of demonstration form.

But it's Madd Chronic who provides the coaching when we arrive to the throng of 5-0s waiting for us in the square.

"Dude, stay on the sidewalk," he says. "They can't kick us off the sidewalk." Great thinking!

The bong-hitting barker in me begins shouting, "We're here! We're high! Get used to it!" And "If you love marijuana, let me hear you say 420!" Our cannabis cannon will get sparked at 4:20 exactly to symbolize the grandiosity of the day. We fire up some joints until then to get things going, and people begin to gather.

Eventually, stoners take over tables, creating an outdoor cannabis café. Plenty of folks watch the spectacle from the sidelines. Only the daring come forward. As the exuberant crowd swells, an officer approaches and tells us he doesn't want to arrest anyone if we remain peaceful. Which is our goal. No jail cell today.

Gauging advance numbers for our brazen bong-hitting event was difficult. We know that plenty of potheads decry our antics as "show up to get arrested."

Their howls even reach lawyer Alan Young, who asked us a while ago if we could lose the Hash Mob name and become a Pot Collective.

Sure enough, owners of pot cafés and head shops aren't here with us. They're worried about blowback. There's a big fear that our unsanctioned actions will feed bathhouse-style raids. Some café owners even beg us not to come back to their establishments post-rally.

They're not the only folks who misunderstand us. The pols, too, it seems, keep missing our point. Federal Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson is quoted the next day saying Conservatives have no interest in decriminalizing doobies. Wow, this fires me up. We didn't mention "decrim." We're demanding legalization and a Cannabis Control Board of Ontario. What's with him?

Only lore and maybe a book or movie deal will determine the Hash Mob's future counterculture mythology. But next move is a THM honour guard for parade marshal Marc Emery at Toronto's Global Marijuana March, Saturday, May 5. Watch for us.

Contact: letters@nowtoronto.com

NOW Magazine



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