Cannabis activist crashes Tucson neighborhood gathering
Parents upset, police powerless at National Night Out event
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It was supposed to be an event bringing the neighborhood together for a cause. It did that. But an uninvited guest upset parents and their kids. A medical marijuana and hemp activist showed up at the annual National Night Out event at Amphi Neighborhod Park.
Neighbors gathered, kids played and families met the police who serve them Tuesday night. They learned they can help keep their neighborhood safe by banding together.
“Everybody gets to protect each other,” said Omar Ruiz, who came with his mother and family. “If something happens to you, you could ask a neighbor to help you.”
But among the community groups was an uninvited guest: an activist who supports a variety of things including hemp and medical marijuana. A sign on her table read "Green Party Pima County,” but it appears she's not a party leader.
The woman declined to speak on camera, but told 9 On Your Side she was exercising her First Amendments rights.
Some parents who came to support neighborhood safety did not care for her pamphlets titled "Effective Use of Medical Cannabis" and bottled hemp protein powder.
“It's a booth for legalized marijuana,” said parent Michael Lake. “I don't think that it's something that was appropriate--for a crime-prevention fair to have a booth that promotes drugs. Especially when, as parents, you're doing the best that you can to protect your children from things like this.”
Plenty of police were at the park as part of the event itself, but told 9 On Your Side their hands were tied.
“I've had a couple families express concern over that, yes,” said Captain Rick Wilson of the Tucson Police Department.
Reporter Kevin Keen then asked him, “What can you tell them? What can you tell me?” “They have a legal right be here,” he said. “That's just where the matter's going to have to rest. They have a legal right to be here. We don't have an exclusive use of the park.”
“I can understand what they're saying. They don't have a permit,” Lake said. “It's freedom of speech, obviously, for her, but it's disturbing.”
“We already had a conversation about this before when we were at home,” said Lake’s son, Tyler. “It's not appropriate. We're at a park with kids here.”
Tucson police stress the activist was not invited to Tuesday night’s event and didn't want her presence to overlook the positive things that happened there.