Not much marijuana puffed at pot-smokers’ protest

The only grass visible at City Hall park in Red Deer on Monday was the newly sprouting lawn.

Andy Hamdan smokes his hookah

The only grass visible at City Hall park in Red Deer on Monday was the newly sprouting lawn.

Around 60 people gathered for a pot protest, but there was only the slightest whiff of marijuana in the air at 4:20 p.m., the crucial moment of the event.

The association of the 4:20 time and marijuana is thought to date back to the 1970s, when some California teenagers would gather to smoke pot after finishing detention at 4:20 p.m.

Since then, the date April 20 — or 4/20 — has become a day across the planet where pot smokers light up a joint to show their support for marijuana becoming decriminalized or legalized.

Andy Hamdan was at the event in Red Deer puffing away on his hookah, a water pipe popular in the Middle East.

But rather than dope in his pipe, he had apple-flavoured tobacco. Hamdan moved to Canada from Beirut, Lebanon, around 30 years ago and had his family here. He said he goes to the 4:20 event every year.

“I support the marijuana protest because they’re happy people,” Hamdan said.

He said it is a good atmosphere and there is no violence and nobody has a knife. “It’s just friends,” he said.

Four Red Deer City RCMP officers made their way through the crowd of drummers and hacky sackers.

One participant asked one of the female officers what people were allowed to do and she told him they were allowed to assemble, but not do anything illegal.

People donned T-shirts with pot leaves and a group carried a flag with a marijuana leaf.

The Rastafarian colours of red, yellow and green were visible in the crowd.

Rastafarianism is a religion that supports marijuana smoking as one of its tenets.

Red Deer resident Dino Faulkner wore what looked like a potted plant made out of plush material on his head that read “pot head.”

Now 45, Faulkner has been smoking grass for more than 30 years. He said it relaxes him and makes his aches and pains go away.

Faulkner said he thinks marijuana should be legalized. He said the government should spend money fighting crack and heroin rather than worrying about pot.

“I’m proud to be a pot head,” Faulkner said.

“More people should get down here and not be ashamed to show their support.”

The event numbers have declined from years past.

In 2005, 400 people gathered in the park and there were 15 arrests of people opening smoking marijuana. In 2006, the event drew 250 people.

sobrien@bprda.wpengine.com

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