This morning, the City of Vancouver sent out a news release notifying media that Cannabis Day will go ahead at Thornton Park, despite that fact that organizers have not been issued a permit.
"There's obviously some details that have been left out there," Dana Larsen of Sensible B.C. told the Straight after hearing about the release.
"We didn't apply for a permit because we're not allowed to."
The release states that organizers of the annual Cannabis Day protest "are going ahead with a rally at Thornton Park this Saturday despite objections from the Vancouver Park Board to seek a more suitable site than a park which is heavily used and adjacent to Pacific Central Station."
Larsen explained that when event organizers behind the annual 4/20 event at Sunset Beach applied for a permit, the park board denied it, and proceeded to ban all future marijuana-related events from applying for permits on any Vancouver park board properties.
In 2016, Cannabis Day sponsors (Cannabis Culture and Sensible B.C.) hosted the event on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery, where it had taken place for 22 years in a row.
"Last year, we had a conflict with the World Cannabis group where they hijacked our event and set up early," said Larsen.
After the incident with the rogue group, Larsen promptly applied for a permit at the VAG for July 1, 2017.
"I applied in mid-July last year, and they didn't answer me for nearly 11 months," Larsen said.
"A city engineer called me and told me, 'We've decided we're going to use the art gallery for a youth sports day event', but because they hadn't answered us until late May, we assumed we'd be using the art gallery."
Larsen wasn't interested in competing with the event, and decided Thornton Park would be a better option—but because the city requires more lead time to consider event permits, organizers could not apply for one.
"There is no mechanism for us to apply because they won't even hear an application, otherwise we would have,” he said.
Larsen added that organizers are doing everything they can to protect the grounds, and with good weather, there shouldn't be any issues with the grass. A clean-up crew has also been organized.
As for the celebration, Larsen said cannabis enthusiasts can expect booths, live music from local DJs, and more space to relax than what was available at the art gallery.
"I think Thornton Park is a better space for it, because it's highly accessible, there's more shade—sometimes we had issues with heat stroke at the gallery—and there aren't residences nearby, the surrounding area is purely commercial."
Vendors aren't required to sign up or pay a fee to participate. Space at the park for booths will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The event is expected to attract a few thousand people, certainly less than the 30,000 who attended 4/20. Cannabis Day begins at noon and winds down around 8 p.m.