The funnel cakes were definitely a hit.
It was no surprise that plates of deep-fried dough sprinkled with white icing sugar became immensely popular at a festival attended by 25,000 pot enthusiasts who spent the day smoking joints on the lawn at Queen’s Park.
Especially since 20,000 of them worked up an appetite while parading across downtown streets with banners that demanded better access to medical marijuana or the decriminalization of weed itself.
As teenagers lit up among university students and some adults, organizer Gabe Simms called the annual event a celebration of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“People here are from all walks of life,” Simms said, “and whether they be lawyers or students, in some cases youth, they all at the end of the day believe Canada has to make some changes regarding the prohibition (of marijuana) and the difficulty for sick people to have access to medical marijuana.”
He cited a recent Ontario Superior Court ruling that found the federal medical marijuana program unconstitutional because patients are largely prevented from legally accessing the drugs they need.
The decision also struck down the country’s laws against possessing and producing cannabis, which if left unchallenged could make the possession of marijuana legal in Ontario. Ottawa is appealing.
The man behind that ruling, Matthew Mernagh, was front and centre at the Saturday festival, standing on stage beside a four-foot tall marijuana plant, extolling supporters lined up for the parade to walk in an orderly fashion. “Show the world that pot heads are organized!” Mernagh shouted into a megaphone.
Wilson Aguado came with his children, both young adults, who smoke marijuana. “They’ve been smoking since high school, I never could stop them. We’re having a great time. For me, it’s okay. I’ve been smoking since I was 11,” said Aguado, 55. Fifteen-year-old Richard Ethier said he came with his friends to push for better access to medical marijuana.
“I know people who smoke marijuana for recreation and for medical reasons — it’s not a bad thing, but people try to make it into a bad thing,” said Ethier, a student at Central Technical School.
Ethier said he planned to spend the day smoke free. A notable goal in a park where the smoke was so heavy, everyone inhaled.