B.C.’s annual 4-20 protest still relevant: spokesman

Most schools in Delta, Coquitlam, and North Vancouver will be closed Friday

Thousands are expected to attend the 4-20 marijuana smoke-in at Vancouver’s Sunset Beach Friday, and while the legalization goal of the annual Weed Day will soon be met, an event organizer says there is much more to protest.

This year’s event also features a unique wrinkle for organizers, police, and parents: professional development days are scheduled Friday for three Metro Vancouver school districts, meaning thousands of children won’t be in class.

Dana Larsen, the organizer of 4-20 Vancouver, says the annual “smoke-ins” will continue until all their goals are met. Larsen says he believes cannabis users are still discriminated against, despite the approaching legalization.

“I wouldn’t say we’re above the law. I’d say we’re under the law, in that cannabis users are unjustly punished by the law, and imprisoned, and treated poorly, and lose our jobs, and our children, and have other negative things happen because we choose to use cannabis, often instead of using alcohol.”

Larsen says organizers have met with the city’s police and fire departments, sanitation, ambulance services, and park rangers about Friday’s rally, and will ”act as if they have a special-events permit” from the park board.

Vancouver’s park board issued a statement Tuesday, saying the protest is taking place against its wishes.

WATCH: Crowds gather for Vancouver’s 4/20 celebration

The statement says the board is working “to encourage organizers to find an alternate location for the event in future years.”

“The park board does not believe this event is an appropriate use of park space because it violates our no-smoking bylaws and has negative consequences for park users and infrastructure.”

Last year, tens of thousands of people showed up to the beach-side event and left the fields a muddy mess.

The protest cost the city about $245,000 for issues such as policing and replacing the turf.

READ MORE: Regulators urged to include so-called grey market in marijuana legalization

READ MORE: Canadian marijuana companies search for workers ahead of legalization

“Park Rangers have gone door to door in the vicinity of Sunset Beach to hand deliver leaflets outlining plans for the event and to inform residents of significant crowds, traffic impacts and potential health concerns to those with sensitivity to smoke,” the park board says in a release.

Most schools in Delta, Coquitlam, and North Vancouver will be closed Friday.

Jen Hill, communications manager at the Delta School District, says they generally hold a professional development day on the third Friday of April, coming off the Easter holiday, and it has fallen on April 20 before.

Chris Atkinson, assistant superintendent of the North Vancouver School District, says it’s merely a coincidence the non-instructional day fell on 4-20 and he’s ”surprised this was a story at all.”

Hill, Atkinson and Larsen note that April 20 falls on a Saturday next year, and students would not be in school then either.

Vancouver police Sgt. Jason Robillard confirms the force is working with 4-20 organizers and booth operators this year, and will deploy a special detachment that manages policing around public events and protests.

He says it wasn’t the department’s position to comment on any decisions made by school boards, especially those outside of their jurisdiction, but says police are prepared for young attendees.

“We’ll look at all the possibilities, and if the event requires any additional attention during the time of the event that’s happening, we are prepared and can adjust our resources … as necessary. So if that means we need to look at enforcing laws surrounding selling to minors and things like that, that will be a game-time decision and we can adjust our resources as necessary.”

Larson says anyone caught selling products to minors will face serious consequences, including removal and a future ban from the event, along with any separate police action.

The history of “4-20” is foggy, though most agree it was started when a group of high school students in California met at 4:20 p.m. to smoke marijuana.

This will be the 24th instalment of Vancouver’s annual protest, and Larsen says he expects it to be the biggest rally they’ve put on yet, with peak crowds of up to 60,000 people expected at Sunset Beach.

Spencer Harwood, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Port Hardy’s RCMP Staff Sgt. Wes Olsen: ‘It’s business as usual’ after cannabis legalization

Local RCMP will still be on the lookout for impaired driving despite cannabis legalization.

Jay Dixon finishes top three for School and District Leadership award

“I believe it’s all of our responsibility for our schools to provide quality education,” said Dixon.

7 Mile Landfill operations tender closes October

Taxes covering the landfill have not increased over the past 15 years and are not expected to soon.

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

Driving with dope: Police talk rules on cannabis in the car

Even though pot is legal, you can’t smoke in the car

B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

B.C. teens fined for possession of pot on legalization day

The pair received $230 fines for smoking pot in public

Trio of Saint Bernard find their ‘forever home’ after story goes viral

Edmonton Humane Society had put out the call to adopt Gasket, Gunther and Goliath

Tyson’s Thoughts: It’s finally legal!

I might just go peruse a legal cannabis shop or two once they start to pop up around Port Hardy.

Nurses deliver 24,000 anti-violence postcards to B.C. Health Minister

Nurses delivered thousands of postcards to the front steps of the B.C. legislature, each carrying a message for violence prevention

Openly gay, female priest of B.C. church defying norms

Andrea Brennan serves Fernie at pivotal time in church’s history

Nova Scotia works to stop underage online cannabis sales

The government cannabis retailer moves to prevent workaround of online-age verification

Most Read