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No permit for 4/20?

Parade in jeopardy because no one will insure it

Medical marijuana user smokes in Winnipeg
Medical marijuana user Steven Stairs smokes at his Winnipeg home on Sat., April 19, 2014. Stairs has organized a march prior to the 4/20 event at the Manitoba Legislative grounds on Sunday.

The man behind Winnipeg’s annual 4/20 rally said a city bylaw is infringing on legal marijuana users’ democratic rights by making legal assembly more prohibitive.

Steven Stairs, a vocal advocate in Winnipeg for medical marijuana use, said plans to march through downtown on April 20 — the day weed smokers around the world light up in support of decriminalization — are in limbo after the city refused to issue a parade permit.

Stairs, himself a medical marijuana user, said the city’s traffic bylaw requires applicants provide liability insurance and, because marijuana is involved, no insurance companies have yet agreed to provide a policy, leading the city to reject the application.

“The city has denied my insurance because there’s a caveat in insurance that says the insurance is not covered if these people are under the effects of marijuana,” he said. “Well, this is going to be a majority of medical marijuana patients. Legally I’m entitled to march in the streets with a police escort like anybody else does, but … there are very few insurance companies across the country that will insure marijuana businesses out there let alone marches with marijuana users in the them. So it’s pretty discriminatory.”

Stairs said the annual rally at the Legislature will still be held, but called the rejection of his parade permit “hugely prejudicial.”

“It’s our democratic right to assemble like that. If everybody else has the right to do it, why don’t we?”

Stairs said last year he rented a bus to shuttle people from the Legislative grounds to city hall where a legal march through downtown commenced. But he said a change in the bylaw shortly after that altered everything.

“The police are trying to work with me at least on it,” he said. “The city has basically put me in a hole where they’re like ‘If you can get insured, you can have your march.’ And no one can insure me.”

“It’s this whole catch-22 situation that they put the organizers of events into and they don’t think about how it (infringes) on to their rights.”

The terms and conditions on a parade permit application state an applicant must have it approved by the police special events co-ordinator two weeks prior to the parade date and that the chief of police can withdraw the permit if “the applicant or any parade participant violates any law, regulation, or by-law.”

Twitter: @LarkinsWSun

Article source Winnipeg Sun

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