Oshawa Cannabis Day well Attended, Peaceful

Jillian Follert

OSHAWA — The second attempt at Oshawa Cannabis Day went more smoothly than its predecessor last summer and managed to attract a much bigger crowd.
Organizer Ben Fudge estimated about 200 people gathered at Memorial Park in downtown Oshawa on July 1 to show their support for issues such as legalization of marijuana and recognition of the drug’s medicinal benefits.
“I’m really surprised by how many people came, we’re going to aim for 500 people next year,” he said.
Participants ranged from “die-hard activists,” he said, to everyday people interested in learning how to fill out paperwork for a medical exemption.
There was a small police presence at the event and two people without exemption cards were arrested for possession of marijuana, but Mr. Fudge said it was peaceful.
“The police were respectful and courteous. We got along well with them and they protected our rights to protest,” he noted.
The lack of controversy was a welcome change for organizers after last year’s drama.
When plans for the first Oshawa Cannabis Day were announced in June 2009, Oshawa councillors raised concerns about plans to hold it at Lakeview Park, where the City’s annual Canada Day festivities take place.
The cannabis event was moved to Alexandra Park, where roughly 20 participants were met with a dozen police officers, three cruisers and a prisoner transport vehicle. Police gave the group 15 minutes to disperse or face arrest.
Mr. Fudge said this year’s event was better organized — City officials and police were made aware of the plan well in advance.