Attitude about 4/20 has shifted over the years: Winnipeg police

A young man smokes a joint during a rally in Vancouver, B.C.
A young man smokes a joint during a rally in Vancouver, B.C. The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck

If all goes to plan, today will be the last 4/20 before pot is legalized in Canada.

April 20 is the day each year that enthusiasts gather in spots worldwide, originally in protest, though that has changed as attitudes shift surrounding cannabis.

In Manitoba, people have been allowed to gather on the lawn of the Legislature and smoke without consequence.

There should be a sizable crowd of tokers for a variety of reasons: it’s a Friday, many schools have the day off, the wonderful spring weather, and the fact that this day is a quasi-victory lap before pot is legal.

READ MORE: Vancouver pot activists smoke up a cloud at 4:20 p.m.

But don’t expect to see a heavy police presence.

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“Our view of 4/20 has really changed over the years, and I’ve been involved in quite a number of those events from a policing standpoint,” Constable Rob Carver said. “We used to have a lot of officers out there, and we really had no role. We’ve really scaled back what we do. It’s become really a non-event.”

Having said that, Carver wants to make it clear that they want to keep the party contained to the Legislature.

READ MORE: Winnipeg Whiteout Street Party expanding for Friday’s Jets game

“We’ll have a couple of officers for sure drive by. We have some tolerance for that, but that tolerance does not extend throughout the whole city, and it certainly doesn’t extend into the area where the Whiteout Party is going to be,” Carver explained. “We’ve allowed it to happen at the Legislature, we’ve got a really good experience with the people who have been there, but we don’t see the two connecting at all, the street party and 4/20.”

Besides firing up a joint, you can’t smoke anything at the Whiteout Party, which starts at 4:30 p.m.

“You’re now not allowed to smoke in licenced premises and patios, and that rule is part of the Whiteout Party because it is a licenced premise, a street party. We’ve got officers out there who will be making sure everybody is following that rule. I don’t think that’s in everybody’s mind yet. They can’t smoke, they can’t vape, and certainly we’re not going to tolerate anyone with marijuana.”

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