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    Paul Chang wrote:From: Paul Chang To: NORML Affiliates Subject: [affiliates] Joint venture has Montreal abuzz Date: Mon, 1 Dec
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2003
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      Paul Chang <paul_chang@...> wrote:
      From: "Paul Chang"
      To: "NORML Affiliates"
      Subject: [affiliates] Joint venture has Montreal abuzz
      Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003 03:39:02 -0500

      Address messages for this group to 'affiliates@...' --- Address messages for this group to 'affiliates@...' ---
      Nov. 30, 2003. 08:26 AM
      Joint venture has Montreal abuzz
      Two arrested as marijuana caf� opens
      Located across from police station

      MIRO CERNETIG
      QUEBEC BUREAU CHIEF

      Montreal�By most measures, Chez Marijane ought not to create much of a buzz.

      The caf�'s floor is nothing more than poorly varnished plywood. Its walls are painted a sickly looking yellow. A man in dreadlocks behind the bar of Marijane's � named for the hoary moniker for marijuana � tells customers the cappuccino machine is still very much in the future.

      "But you can smoke a joint," he adds, proffering an ashtray. "Just ask somebody here for a try. They'll let you take a toke and I promise you, most of the people here smoke some of the best marijuana in Montreal � out-of-this-world product."

      When it opened its doors yesterday at noon, an event marked by a crowd of about 50 patrons lighting up joints, this spartan caf� in Montreal's eastside became a notable institution in Quebec.

      Its patrons plan to come here on a daily basis to thumb their nose at Canada's drug laws, which they believe should be changed to legalize pot.

      "Do I look like somebody evil, do these people around you look evil?" asked Antoine Debast, a 23-year-old university philosophy student watching as other patrons puffed out thick, blue clouds that hung below the caf�'s ceiling.

      "Do I look like a criminal, do they look like criminals?" he asked, gesturing toward a man holding a newborn. "I go to university. I will pay my taxes. But I'm in favour of the decriminalization of marijuana. We're in favour of legalizing marijuana. Now, let's see what the police might do about this."

      Marijane's is not the first place in Canada that allows its customers to openly smoke marijuana. There are a handful of such establishments in Toronto and Vancouver and other Canadian cities.

      But Montreal's pot caf� may be the first that challenges police so directly � it is located across the street from a police station.


      `Do I look like somebody evil, do these people around you look evil?'

      Antoine Debast, university student


      Yesterday, police arrested two people at the caf� who were holding joints, said Hugo St-Onge, president of the Bloc Pot party.

      "To tell you the truth, I'm surprised," St-Onge told Canadian Press when reached at the police station where he was helping the two men, aged 26 and 51. One of the men has multiple sclerosis, he added.

      Earlier, as police officers tried to keep a crowd of media and pro-marijuana activists off the street near their station, customers of the caf� openly taunted officers as television cameras filmed the event.

      "What are you going to do if I smoke?" demanded one man, holding a joint within arm's reach of a female traffic officer. "Why don't you take this away from me? Arrest me."

      A police officer, sitting in his squad car, quietly fumed.

      "We'll do something, don't you worry," he said, refusing to give his name. "But we'll act when we're ready. Not when these drug users want to get on television."

      Police officials have already informed officials of Quebec's Marijuana Party, who are behind the caf�, that it is illegal to smoke marijuana on the premises. But those warnings are precisely what the group's leaders, who also work under the name Bloc Pot, want to hear.

      "A lot of Canadians think it's now legal to smoke marijuana," St-Onge said. "But the laws are still against it, you can still be fined. We want people to know that and force Paul Martin, Canada's next prime minister, to change the law, so people can smoke pot without fear."

      There's still a good deal of legal manoeuvring to be done by Marijane's operators to ensure they don't face criminal prosecution. The caf� does not sell marijuana, it does not allow customers to deal the drug, it does not officially encourage anyone to light up and it limits patrons to 16 years of age and over.

      A proposed bill that would decriminalize marijuana for users caught with less than 15 grams died when Parliament shut down this month. The bill is expected to be reintroduced later.

      Additional articles by Miro Cernetig

      *************************
       
      Paul Chang
       
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      Cheryl Ann Nolin
      Treasurer Houston NORML


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