Cypress Hill to headline Vancouver 4/20, critics say event no longer a protest

Cypress Hill will be headlining Vancouver's annual 4-20 event. (Photo by Jonathan Short/Invision/AP)

Vancouver pot fans will be getting “insane in the membrane” this month, with legendary hip-hop group Cypress Hill confirmed as a headliner at the city’s annual 4/20 “protestival.”

Organizer Dana Larsen said he’s expecting more than 100,000 people to descend on Sunset Beach to partake in the smoke-up and see the rappers.

WATCH (March 6, 2019): True costs of Vancouver 4/20 celebrations released

Click to play video: 'True costs of Vancouver 4/20 celebrations released' True costs of Vancouver 4/20 celebrations released
True costs of Vancouver 4/20 celebrations released – Mar 7, 2019

“They’re incredibly cannabis-friendly with lots of songs about marijuana and the cannabis culture, and I think that their presence will be just one of the ingredients that’s going to add up to this year being the biggest and best 4/20 that Vancouver has ever seen,” Larsen said.

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This year marks the 25th iteration of the controversial event, which moved into the seaside park in 2017 from the Vancouver Art Gallery.

READ MORE: Activists vow to keep 4/20 smoke up at Sunset Beach, despite new provincial rules

Larsen said complaints about the location won’t stop organizers from hosting the event there, characterizing Sunset Beach as a “public square.”

“There’s a lot of other big public protests and celebrations that happen there, and I think we’re going to be there for many years to come,” he told Global News.

“The reality is that 4/20 is a protest against the stigmatization and decriminalization of cannabis users, and that is something that continues in this country despite the legalization we have had.”

READ MORE: Where to hold Vancouver’s annual 4/20 event in the future?

However, critics say the appearance of a big-name act like Cypress Hill at the event proves it’s left its protest days behind.

WATCH (March 5, 2019): PNE pushes back against possible 4/20 move

Click to play video: 'PNE pushes back against possible 4/20 move' PNE pushes back against possible 4/20 move
PNE pushes back against possible 4/20 move – Mar 5, 2019

“As I’ve said, 4/20 is a commercial festival, not a protest. Cypress Hill headlining Vancouver 4/20 amid park board fears. Breaks bylaws, charges lots $ for booths, damages park,” tweeted Vancouver Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung, who has spearheaded an attempt at council to have the event moved to another location.

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The comments were echoed by Vancouver Park Board commissioner Tricia Barker, herself the author of a motion calling for pot sales to be banned at 4/20 and for the city to seek an alternative venue.

READ MORE: Vancouver 4/20 celebrations cost taxpayers more than half a million dollars over 2 years: report

“I’m very concerned that this is a long weekend and there will be even larger crowds. Enough is enough. I’m protesting this commercial festival,” she wrote.

Earlier this spring, a leaked city memo revealed the 4/20 event cost Vancouver $583,000 over the last two years.

Larsen says the event pays its share of costs but insists the event should not be on the hook for policing costs because it is a protest.

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