The fate of one of the country’s biggest pot “protestivals” is in question with B.C. announcing the details of its legal marijuana regulations.
Vancouver’s controversial annual 4/20 event, deemed a protest by activists and a party by critics, moved from the Vancouver Art Gallery to Sunset Beach in 2016.
That move came over objections from the city’s Park Board, which has argued the event damages the area and falls afoul of the city’s bylaws against smoking in parks.
With the province now unveiling rules designed to keep pot away from kids, including a ban in playgrounds, parks and community beaches, the board hopes it can force the event to move.
“It created a lot of issues for West End residents, where we had seniors with asthma that had to leave their homes and people also weren’t able to access the seawall,” said Park Commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung.
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Since 4/20 moved to Sunset Beach, the Park Board has refused to issue permits for the event, and last year said the park was “trashed” by attendees.
The city estimates the event cost taxpayers more than $245,000 for cleanup and services.
Kirby-Yung said she hopes that, with provincial and municipal laws now aligned, 4/20’s days at the beach are numbered.
“The Park Board went to the city previously and asked the mayor if they would work with us and find an alternate location. Apparently, they haven’t reached across the aisle, and we haven’t had that help,” she said.
“Hopefully with the support of the province as well we can find a better long-term home for 4/20 than Sunset Beach.”
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But activists are vowing not to budge from the idyllic seaside location.
“We’ll be doing 4/20 at Sunset Beach this year again,” said pot activist and event organizer Dana Larsen.
“It’s always been illegal, the event has actually been more illegal in the past and we’ll continue to be doing it in the future for as long as we can.”
Larsen said organizers are already talking to the city about holding the event at Sunset Beach again this year, and added that he’s been advocating for the city to create a permit system for marijuana-specific events.
So-called “Princess of Pot” Jodie Emery similarly dismissed the idea of moving the event.
“Trying to ban smoking won’t make it disappear,” she said.
“These people are still going to show up and gather, and we ask the city every year if they would rather try and control 150,000 citizens coming every year, or let us organize it in our professional, meticulous fashion.”
Either way, the new rules won’t affect this year’s planned gathering.
The event, which falls on April 20, will happen before marijuana is legalized this summer and the province’s new rules take effect.