Legalize

In Hagley Park the midday Autumn sun reflected in tones of russet and brown from the leaves of the Oaks and Eucalypts. In the fields between the trees, schoolboy rugby players in muddy shorts and striped jerseys panted and strained, their sprigs digging for purchase in the soft emerald green lawn.
I was on my way to meet an old friend whose new acquaintance was an activist for the legalization of medical marijuana movement. My friend and I thought the event was worthy of support, with an added bonus. It hinted at some form of amusement.
Parking on Cashel St, I strolled among the shoppers, then walked down the road towards the damaged Bridge of Remembrance. As I approached the Avon river, a bullhorn’s electric tone could be heard hectoring the occupants of passing cars.
“Legalize marijuana.. marijuana saves lives, legalize marijuana.. marijuana is good for you.” I was obviously headed in the right direction. A long haired man in his late 60s barked at the bullhorn while two older guys resignedly took down signs and flags at the behest of a bemused looking City Council employee. Apparently things were off to a shaky start. Passing cars tooted support as they drove by, but most of Christchurch’s potheads had stayed home, leaving the diehard weed commandos to do all the work. Parked beneath a huge Oak tree growing beside the river was a 74 Austin Allegro 1000 with a faded Union Jack painted across it’s roof. I suspect this was the headquarters of the movement, the vechile was a mobile Marijuana Think-Tank.
I wandered across the Avon bridge to find my friend waiting near a wire-wove fence that blocked access to the damaged Bridge of Remembrance. We stood in the sun and waited for the Rally to get organized. A march was apparently planned.
I imagined serried ranks of Christchurch weed smokers, defiantly marching through the Cashel Mall, swinging dreadlocks, tie dyed Marley t-shirts, smiling toddlers holding pregnant mum’s hands, passing joints, exhaling clouds of smoke in dignified protest. But things were going slowly it seemed, the supporters only numbered about twenty, and these hard core weed warriors seemed to disagree as to which side of the river was best for their rallying point.
While this was slowly being sorted the protest continued with joints being lit, and the passing ’round commenced. As the sweet smell of marijuana spread in the midday breeze new protestors with dirty backpacks and wide grins appeared, the homeless were joining the protest!
I helped a wheelchair bound man with one and a half legs tape his marijuana flags to the wire fence, “These were only three dollars each,” he beamed proudly. “Got ’em at a closing down sale.” He looked at me keenly, as if to offer me a dozen at a good price.
I feigned indifference.
Soon, we all moved to a low stone wall and sat down beside the river. From the river bank just below, a brown trout swam lazily out of the silty gloom and moved out into the passing stream, before swimming down river. The joints passed hand to hand, and of course I pretended to smoke, but didn’t inhale.
Up near the street ‘Bullhorn’ continued to harangue the strolling shoppers. We were missing out, so we returned to stand by the wire fence.
“Get High! Don’t get low.. depression is a business.” Bullhorn was now getting into his stride.
“John Kirwin is selling depression on the TV, they make millions!”
Solely to be polite, I passed the joint again while Bullhorn continued. “Marijuana seeds are edible, they have more Omega 3 than fish. John Key is pals with the Chinese, Key is going to shit on the people of Aranui, he doesn’t care about them, he’d rather make millions with his Chinese pals, and they don’t even speak English!”
I laughed so hard I fell backwards into the fence, and for a second Bullhorn looked around at me, then he grinned widely, and returned to his spiel.
“Legalize marijuana, it’s healthy, cures disease..the Government wont do it, they make millions with the drug companies. NO, they don’t. THEY MAKE BILLIONS!”
A round-faced girl added her voice to Bullhorns, then another protester found a voice. Each speaker sometimes interjected simultaneously, all making different points.
The watchers grinned, and the joints did the rounds, and slowly the desire to march seemed to fade. Apparently the protest was going up in smoke, and anyway, I was feeling peckish, my mate wanted a ride, so it was time to blow.
As we wandered off to the car the sound of the bullhorn slowly receded. The protesters had settled in for the duration, and the weed warriors had missed their day of glory. Not a single one had ‘felt the swing of the truncheon thing,’ and anyway, there were food outlets nearby.
I spent the rest of the afternoon recovering in a deep armchair, scoffing a pie, a cream bun, and some chocolate eggs.
I wonder who’s protesting tomorrow?

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