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St. Petersburg reluctantly okays marijuana rally

Published Nov. 15, 1991
Updated Oct. 14, 2005

Although most members of the St. Petersburg City Council didn't like it one bit, they took their attorneys' advice Thursday and approved a pro-marijuana rally in Williams Park. Council members were advised they would be violating the organizers' First Amendment right to free speech if they refused to allow the rally because of its content.

As a result of the council's action, "Hemp Tour 1991" will be held 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday.

"We won," said a jubilant R.J. Cote as he and others left council chambers after the decision. Cote, 19, of St. Petersburg, is a student at St. Petersburg Junior College (SPJC).

The city also is obligated to pay for police protection and cleanup after the rally because the sponsoring group can't afford to pay for it.

Although they approved it, some council members clearly weren't happy about the rally's concept.

"I think this whole concept of free speech has gotten out of hand," said council member Charles Shorter Jr., who teaches political science at SPJC.

Vice Mayor Connie Kone was equally incredulous at the city's obligation not only to allow the event, but also to pay for the services to support it.

"There's something wrong with that; I'm sorry," she said.

Among the features of the rally will be a treatise on "how marijuana can save the world," said organizer Jeff Adams, 23, an SPJC student.