Despite everything you may have heard in the news lately, the 420 Vancouver show must go on! It will not be stopped, regardless of anything the Vancouver Parks Board does, which includes trying to block headliners Cypress Hill, the legendary hiphop group and cannabis connoisseurs, from performing a free show at Sunset Beach on April 20th.
The City is also trying to shut down the farmer’s market, too. Yeah, good luck with that!
History repeats itself
For those hoping that the first 420 since Canada legalized cannabis would usher in a new era of enlightenment and cooperation with the City, you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, it seems like the City is coming down harder than ever, which once again forces 420 Vancouver to proceed as an unlicensed and unsanctioned event.
What the Parks Board fails to mention when citing the bylaw that prohibits smoking is that it can grant exceptions to those very bylaws for special occasions and events, which it does all the time- for alcohol, at least. Just ask the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Bard on the Beach, or Vancouver Craft Beer Week, to name a few.
But every single year, when it comes to cannabis, it’s always a hard NO. Why the double standard?
Celebration of Light? More like celebration of booze, urine, fights, and stabbings!
Have you ever seen what English Bay looks like after the Celebration of Light fireworks? It’s completely trashed and requires a clean-up crew working all night to try to get it back to normal.
That’s not even mentioning all the illegal (and underage) drinking in public that goes down every year. That means a heavy police presence and liquor pour outs at seemingly every block in the West End. You know what else pours down the streets during Vancouver’s fireworks? Rivers of urine pretty much anywhere (alleys, storefronts, trees, bushes, fire hydrants?) you could imagine. In addition to all the flowing liquor and urine, you can add a bit of blood to the mix, too, as fights and stabbings occur every year as well.
Last year, even a dog got stabbed!
I’m not saying that those other events should be cancelled, or that alcohol should be banned at them, either. I’m just asking for fair and reasonable treatment from the City when it comes to cannabis.
Meanwhile, after 420, the City often surveys Sunset Beach and posts extensive pictures of the “damages” done by 420 Vancouver to further demonize it, including fencing off large sections of the park for months!
The cannabis stigma is real
By refusing 420 Vancouver organizers a license while still expecting organizers to follow all of its regulations and bylaws, it only shows how the City wants to have its cake and eat it, too. Someone should tell the Vancouver Parks Board they can’t have it both ways.
But even an organization as myopic as the Vancouver Parks Board probably recognizes the terrible optics, backlash, and all around mockery they’d receive if they got the Vancouver Police to come in and shut 420 Vancouver down.
They say that 420 Vancouver is no longer needed because cannabis is now legal, but they realize if they got the police to do their dirty work and stop it, they’d only be proving why it’s a protest in the first place.
This is really just a PR battle full of grandstanding politicians all fanning the reefer madness flames. In a roundabout way, all this blowback and hostility exhibited by the City only ends up proving the 420 organizers right and shows that the 420 Vancouver protest is more relevant than ever.
It IS still a protest
People are still going to jail over cannabis. Just ask Rodney Clayton Felix, a 31-year-old Indigenous man who was sentenced to 10 months in a Manitoba jail for having more than the 30 grams limit for cannabis. Not only does his case show how disproportionately high sentences are for cannabis users, it also shows how minorities and vulnerable communities are disproportionately criminalized by law enforcement.
Here are a few more reasons why 420 is still a protest:
Edibles and concentrates are still illegal.
There are no consumption lounges to safely consume cannabis.
Access to cannabis has gotten worse post-legalization.
Legal cannabis is a government-controlled regime dominated by crony capitalism.
The government’s plan for those with criminal records for cannabis possession involves pardons, not expungement.
The list goes on…