SAO PAULO – Thousands of protesters marched through São Paulo streets on Saturday, agitating for relaxation of Brazil’s harsh marijuana laws. The ‘Marijuana March’ kicked off at 4:20 pm and lasted for about two hours, reported online media.
São Paulo Marijuana March 2012 Peaceful
Unlike in earlier years, where protesters and police clashed, this year’s event had no violence. Police estimated the crowd at about two thousand. Event organizers say at least 10,000 people participated.
According to lawyer Juliana Machado, 28, the purpose of the march was to end the drug war policy. “We want a policy that promotes health, information, debate, so people can grow and consume marijuana. It has many medical benefits,” she told G1.
Police on the scene since the early afternoon warned the organizers that they would allow chants and slogans, but not marijuana use. Folha de São Paulo, however, reported that consumption was widespread among the demonstrators.
Police filmed the demonstration using a device known as “eagle eye” – a high-resolution camera installed on helicopters that records and transmits images to command posts. The same feature they use at other events, such as the Gay Pride Parade.
The march comes after decisions of the Supreme Court that allowed demonstrations for legalization of drugs. Advocating the use of illegal drugs is against the law in Brazil.
The police said they will enforce the limits set by the Supreme Court, which prohibit “incitement, inducement or encouragement of drug use” in children and prohibiting adolescents from being “engaged in the march.”
Terra reported that about 450 people participated in a similar march in Belo Horizonte, capital of Minas Gerais. Police arrested a woman and a 17-year old, according to the report. The article didn’t mention a reason for the arrests.