Cannabis Day goes ahead at Vancouver Art Gallery despite cease and desist order from city

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      As the city of Vancouver voted in favour of regulating medical marijuana dispensaries today (June 24), a protest over marijuana reform will go ahead as planned next week, despite best efforts by the city to shut it down.

      For the past 19 years on July 1, the Vancouver Art Gallery has been crowded with 10,000 to 20,000 pot enthusiasts buying, selling, and smoking weed, not unlike the annual 4/20 rally.

      The event has been organized by Cannabis Culture magazine, though now they claim they have been forbidden to to move forward.

      "The City of Vancouver does not support or approve this event at this location as planned," deputy city manager Sadhu Johnston wrote in a letter to Cannabis Culture on June 9, telling them to cease and desist planning. "It would violate a number of Civic Bylaws.”

      The city’s hands are full with what they call a "saturation of events" around the art gallery. According to Johnston, "The north plaza will be fenced in preparation for planned construction, the south plaza is also unavailable as the annual VIVA event is located on the south plaza throughout the summer."

      Renovations to the plaza were announced in October 2013.

      However, that isn't stopping Cannabis Day organizers. Jeremiah Vandermeer, Cannabis Culture's editor-in-chief of and event co-organizer, said Cannabis Day 2015 will go ahead on the south side of the gallery.

      "We are going to have to do everything we can to have a peaceful protest, be civilly disobedient,” Vandermeer said. “We’ve been banned from collecting any donations from vendors. We can’t do any advertising, we can’t pay for the things we usually do, like Porta-Potties, the ambulance on-site, two or three first-aid tents, a 10-person security team, and various other safety equipment like barricades—we can’t pay for any of that.”

      Vandermeer said planning with the city and Vancouver Police Department had been going smoothly for this year’s event, until two weeks ago when he found out that construction and the art installation threatened to cancel Cannabis Day.

      “We heard from the media that the city would be denying us the art gallery spot,” Vandermeer said. “The city has banned vendors booths from setting up and also said that any of the vendors that do set up could face enforcement from the police, including seizing their property.”

      The Vancouver Police Department said vendors may face enforcement action if they are caught selling weed on Cannabis Day.
      Peter Mothe

      How communication became so hazy after decades of events isn’t clear. “In previous years, we had always met with the city four or five times a year, the VPD has always been at our meetings. For some reason nobody contacted us this time,” Vandermeer said. 

      Letters dated June 9 showed up to Cannabis Culture’s office informing them that construction at the art gallery wouldn’t leave any room for the event, while also demanding they cease promoting, organizing, and advertising for it. Since those letters were sent, Johnston stated the city had met with Cannabis Day organizers and the VPD to hash out a plan for an alternate location: under the south end of the Cambie St. Bridge, near the VPD’s main detachment.
      "They just don’t want it in the downtown core, they want a site they can control, it’s a little out of the way," Vandermeer said. “When they told us about it two weeks before Cannabis Day, it would be impossible for us to reorganize and start our protest at some other location, it’s just too late to do that.”

      VPD media relations officer Randy Fincham told the Straight that police are taking a "wait and see" approach while they watch developments over Cannabis Day.

      "As each event is unique, they present their own set of challenges," Fincham said. "Our emergency operations and planning unit is conducting a threat assessment with the goal of deploying units appropriately."

      The City of Vancouver says the Cannabis Day event at the Vancouver Art Gallery violates a number of civic bylaws.
      Peter Mothe

      Vandermeer won’t encourage or discourage people from setting up a booth or selling marijuana person-to-person under the threat of police action during Cannabis Day, though he feels people will try, calling vending an “integral part of our protest". 

      “I am not sure how many people will show up,” Vandermeer said. "it may be diminished because of construction, but it may also be increased because people are pissed off that the city has blocked us from having our peaceful rally.”

      "We hope a lot of people come out to send a message that this isn't just a bunch of stoners getting high; this is a real political protest and we are going to be here until marjuana is legal," he added.



      Ha ha ha

      Jun 24, 2015 at 9:54pm

      I am arriving early to claim my spot at the top of the stairs! This should be a hilarious show!

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      not in public please

      Jun 25, 2015 at 10:04am

      Why do these people think they have the right to take over a major public space on Canada Day and use it for a smoke-in? It will stink, and they'll leave a huge mess. I wandered through the crowd during the 4/20 rally a few weeks ago, and saw plenty of evidence that regular use of weed turns you into a moron. The smell is vile, far worse than cigars or cigaretters, which are unpleasant enough. What comes out of the rear end of my dog smells better (not that I've tried burning it, let alone in public). Smoke it at home if you like, but don't impose this on the rest of us who are out and about downtown. And don't pretend that this is some kind of noble political cause.

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      @not in public please

      Jun 25, 2015 at 10:28am

      It is very much a noble cause because the more people use pot, the less they use alcohol. Alcohol is not only acutely dangerous, there are all sorts of subtle neurological defects caused by the practice of drunkenly having sex and making a baby. Even one or two glasses of wine to 'relax' before planned procreative activity can damage the baby's genetic material and expression. Marihuana has issues, but it simply isn't teratogenic like alcohol. There is no well-defined, dose-dependent "Fetal Marihuana Syndrome." FAS, on the other hand, is likely hugely under-blown, largely because many people in the University system have low-grade FASD. FASD doesn't mean you can't function; it means you won't understand certain things. A large enough community of people with FASD can certainly try to posit their genetically damaged viewpoint as "truth", but that doesn't make it true.

      Don't drink anywhere. Some of us who don't drink are tired of having to have a nanny state to look after all of you brain damaged morons with FAS/FASD. We are on the verge of anihilating the FAS/FASD phenotype, if only we legalize drugs. Not in ten years, ASAP. It's a public health crisis.

      And I take off my hat to the brave organizers and attendees at this and other events---nationalism is a product of alcoholism and brain damage. The Cannabis plant is real. Canada is fictitious. Just go look at google maps. Canada only exists if you click "labels on." otherwise, it's one continuous landmass. And one day we will have cannabis fields that can be seen from orbit!

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      Dr Jack

      Jun 25, 2015 at 3:54pm

      To not in public, please!!

      And "one day", you will check in a rehab centre paid by me and other working people!!

      BTW. Do you have a REAL job??

      Not that I expect you to answer!

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      Watching the Sheeple

      Jun 25, 2015 at 5:08pm

      When it comes to cannabas, the City does not follow clearly written federal legislation. So why should anyone else bother to follow the law? Apparently the Mayor would have us believe they were meant to be broken anyway, those pesky laws. Well, except for lawn sprinkling. Follow that one.

      The pot heads seen to know what is best for everyone. Besides, the growers, vendors, and dispensaries have no connection with criminals or organized crime. And they should be able to profit without obtaining permits or paying fees, on Cannabas Day. Right?

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      Jun 25, 2015 at 5:28pm

      ""dispensaries have no connection with criminals or organized crime"?????? Reallllllyyyyy?????? Stop smoking for a minute and look around.

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      @Watching the Sheeple

      Jun 25, 2015 at 6:39pm

      I suppose the Nazis would have been really great people if they'd backed off, stopped putting jews in camps, only charged them license fees for their synagogues and restricted the number. After all, we can't have too many people converting to Judaism...all of that "G-D is our King" stuff really annoys the fuhrer!

      We don't need to buy our rights. The whole regulatory model in the west, and possibly in all cities, was thought up by alcoholics. It's time for a different model, one that isn't rooted in genetic damage. How about people live and let live instead of violently regulating one another? Potheads are actually capable of this even if violent alcoholics aren't.

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      Watch the Sheeple

      Jun 25, 2015 at 7:09pm


      I was being sacrastic. Poor attempt, I know.

      Of course there are criminal connections profiting. And the City is profiting too, with the $30,000 fee it is collecting from this assorted cast of characters. How convenient hey?

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      Jun 26, 2015 at 8:38am

      The City didn't want to shut it down, they wanted to move it. The reason is other groups have activities planned for that location.

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      @Dr Jack

      Jun 26, 2015 at 8:39am

      I'm a dilettante, I use drugs sometimes, other times go for periods without using them---variety is the spice of life. People like me are way more common than you think. They're just in the closet because brain-damaged morons think they have a right to bully others about their diets.

      If you believe in drug prohibition, you obviously suffer from psychotic disorder in the same way that someone who believes he is God and goes around attacking people on that basis does.

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