Dana Larsen: 4/20 returns to Sunset Beach

A long-time drug policy reformer lists 12 reasons why there are still reasons to protest in response to the Trudeau government's "legalization" of cannabis

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      Vancouver’s world-famous 4/20 cannabis protest festival will be returning to Sunset Beach in 2020 for the fifth year.

      Why protest?

      If you’re one of those people asking why we’re still having a cannabis protest post-legalization, here’s a dozen reasons to get started:

      1. We are protesting that cannabis users are still treated and punished far more severely than alcohol users in every way.

      2. We are protesting that cannabis users have no legal lounges or spaces to use cannabis in B.C.

      3. We are protesting that there is still so much stigma that cannabis users can be fined and even imprisoned just for letting someone on the street see one legal plant growing on their patio or in their garden.

      4. We are protesting that the cannabis industry is being taken over by millionaires, ex-cops, and prohibitionist politicians, while those communities most harmed by prohibition are left out and continue to be demonized.

      5. We are protesting that it has become harder for patients to access medical cannabis now than it was before "legalization".

      6. We are protesting that events with alcohol use can get permits to use public spaces, but events with cannabis use are forbidden from getting permits.

      7. We are protesting the high taxes on cannabis, especially taxes on medical cannabis, which is taxed like no other legal medicine.

      8. We are protesting arbitrary limitations and stigma, like how growing more than four cannabis plants at home remains a serious crime, but there are no limits on home beer brewing.

      9. We are protesting discriminatory driving laws that declare people to be impaired even if they are a medical user or haven't ingested cannabis for days.

      10. We are protesting the low quality, high prices, contamination and overpackaging of legal cannabis, sometimes shown to have mold, toxic pesticides, insects, and other contaminants in the buds.

      11. We are protesting Vancouver city bylaws that restrict cannabis shops far more strictly than liquor stores, and ban cannabis lounges entirely.

      12. We also protest in solidarity with others around the world who live in more repressive regimes and face harsher punishments.

      The theme for this year’s 4/20 is “No More Drug War”. We stand in solidarity with the movement to end drug prohibition and the brutal war on drug users. We support calls from all B.C. public health officials and front-line workers to decriminalize drug users and create a safe drug supply.

      City and park costs paid

      Just like in 2018, the nonprofit society that runs 4/20 paid to cover all city, park, and provincial costs for 2019, other than those of the Vancouver Police Department.

      The city was paid $29,410 for services such as sanitation, traffic control, fire and rescue, et cetera. The park board got $45,291 for all of its 420-related costs. 4/20 also paid $15,479 to the province to cover use of B.C. Emergency Health Services.

      This totals over $90,000, which doesn’t include all the many other significant event-related costs such as toilets, security, first aid, fencing, staging, turf protection, and so on.

      It costs over $250,000 to put on this free public farmers market and concert, money which is raised from booth reservations, advertising, and donations from Vancouver's cannabis community. In 2019 we were also able to donate $4,200 each to the CKNW Kids Fund, the Variety Children's Charity, and the Overdose Prevention Society.

      It’s worth keeping in mind that Vancouver's 4/20 is the only protest in Canada which is refused a permit and yet voluntarily offers to pay all these civic costs.

      As an organizer for 4/20, I can confirm that we have already applied for a 2020 permit from the Park Board. Who knows? Maybe they'll grant one this time. It can't hurt to keep asking. Last time the Park Board voted on a permit, it was very close, with just one less vote for a permit than against.

      We've already been having planning meetings with civic departments including VPD, Vancouver Coastal Health, park rangers, emergency services, traffic control, transit, sanitation, etc. Like every year, we work to ensure 4/20 is well-organized, safe and fun for everyone!

      Video: Check out what 4/20 looked like in 2019 from an overhead drone camera.
      Pot TV

      4/20 is good for Vancouver

      After 25 years, 4/20 has become a Vancouver institution and an internationally recognized event. People come from across Canada & around the world to participate and enjoy BC's cannabis culture. Our protest festival generates millions in revenue for Vancouver restaurants, hotels, hospitality and tourism.

      We had over 150,000 people join us for 4/20 2019, to stand in solidarity with the global cannabis liberation movement, to participate in the world's greatest cannabis farmer's market, and to enjoy wonderful music including Snotty Nosed Rez Kids and Cypress Hill.

      4/20 will probably be just as big this year, maybe a bit smaller since it's on a Monday instead of a Saturday.

      We’re not ready to announce this year's musical acts yet, but stay tuned!

      If you want to volunteer or learn about other opportunities to participate in 4/20, visit our website at 420Vancouver.com.

      We’ll see you at Sunset Beach on April 20!

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