A crowd of 700 mostly young people rallied in Taipei yesterday promoting “equal rights for cannabis,” and complained of a heavy police presence and sniffer dogs at the event.
At the head of the rally were leaders from the group Green Sensation, which organized the event. They carried a green banner that had their main demands written on it, and shouted slogans such as “Decriminalize cannabis,” “End the discrimination” and “Legalize it for medical use.”
Police at the event included units from the Taipei City Police Department’s Zhongzheng First Precinct, joined by sniffer dogs from the New Taipei City Police Department’s K9 unit, which specializes in narcotics, and units from the National Police Agency Special Operations Group.
Some participants were surprised at the heavy police presence.
People entering the cordoned-off area for the rally had to register by downloading a QR code on their mobile phone, and submit their name and telephone number, in line with government regulations for the prevention of COVID-19.
They then had to pass through a gauntlet of more than a dozen officers and their sniffer dogs.
Organizers said they had complied with government regulations when applying for a permit to hold the rally, but the heavy police presence might have deterred some from attending.
Chung Ho-yun (鍾和耘), a leading advocate, called on Taiwan to follow international standards and permit 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol in cannabis products, similar to the US.
The group also demanded that authorities evaluate scientific evidence that has shown the medical and therapeutical benefits of using cannabis for certain illnesses and conditions, from alleviating pain to providing relief for terminally ill patients.
Taiwan should follow the lead of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which in December last year removed cannabis from the global narcotic drugs list, they said.
The rally also called for an end to the stigmatization of cannabis consumption.
Chung said he was happy about the turnout, adding that most of the protesters were young people, who are well-informed about international trends.
Many countries have legalized medical and recreational use of cannabis, and authorities in those countries do not view it as an “evil drug,” he added.
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