By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Reports suggest thousands of people attended the controversial “Marijuana March” on Saturday afternoon in Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone). The rally, which is now held in over 700 cities worldwide, celebrates Cannabis and defends the use of the drug as being part of a lifestyle choice.

The 2012 Marcha da Maconha (Marijuana March) closed the street in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
The 2012 Marcha da Maconha (Marijuana March) closed the street in Ipanema, image recreation.

Colorfully dressed campaigners, some of whom were displaying banners or costumes promoting Cannabis, attended the march that took place in Ipanema. One sign read, “Marijuana is medicine” while another displayed the statement “the people want marijuana.”

The procession eventually finished at Posto 9 where a big party was held to mark the end of the march, accompanied by music courtesy of DJ’s and MC’s that added to the care free and fun atmosphere of the day.

For the most part, the event was carried out smoothly however police were called to intervene when a sound truck involved in the march obstructed Avenida Vieira Souto, and Rua Rainha Elizabeth despite the orders of the CET-Rio (traffic engineering company) to keep roadways clear.

Reports indicate some protestors threw rocks at a police car and in retaliation rubber bullets were fired, hitting at least one, drawing a close to the protest.

Although the march was granted permission by the supreme court of Brazil in June 2011, organizer Renato Cinco reported hostility from Police officers who attempted to prevent promotion of the event in Lapa the previous night.

He explained “The police [carried] non-lethal weapons that give a shock to the forehead and were very aggressive, although I tried to explain that Justice released this kind of demonstration in favor of legalizing drugs.”

Elsewhere in the city, many bars and clubs celebrated Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday tradition which is also recognized and celebrated across the U.S. and parts of South America.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Update is a new feature we are offering to help keep you up-to-date with major news as it happens.

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