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Pot protests across Canada

Hundreds gather in Toronto

An annual day of celebrating cannabis culture is ramping up into mainstream political activism as the pot-smoking 420 movement takes on marijuana prohibition with rallies across Canada.

Police are advising motorists to steer clear of Parliament Hill in the national capital as a large demonstration is expected for the annual April 20 event, when pot activists traditionally partake at 4:20 in the afternoon.

In Toronto, the event is being held at Yonge-Dundas square with hundreds of people taking part.

The 420 moniker dates back to the pot culture of California in the early 1970s, but it became formally attached to April 20 when a group of Vancouver activists held the first day-long rally in 1995.

Anti-prohibition activist Jodie Emery says recent legalization in two U.S. states has opened the eyes of governments and businesses to the financial benefits of a legal trade in marijuana.

And she says that has given the annual 420 rallies _ which have now gone global _ a renewed emphasis on influencing government policy.

As Emery puts it, ``we've won over the Man and the establishment.''

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