The big day has arrived.
Thousands of peaceful cannabis-loving people will converge on Sunset Beach for the annual 4/20 celebration. It’s being billed this year as a ‘protest + farmers’ market’.
The first such celebration in the world occurred in Vancouver in 1995 outside the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Despite the widespread popularity of cannabis, there has been a litany of negative media coverage about 4/20 for more than two decades.
It goes something like this:
‘Cannabis is frying our kids’ brains.’ This is despite a study last year in the Journal of Adolescent Health, which determined a ‘minimal evidence for associations between cannabis use by itself and PS [psychosis spectrum] symptoms’.
‘It’s causing carnage on the roads.’ That one really riles cannabis activists, including Jodie Emery, who’s tweeted this in response:
Then there will be the inevitable diatribes in newspapers and on the radio about hooligans ruining a public park and the West End stinking of cannabis.
To get out in front of this media narrative, I’ve decided to post 10 reasons to celebrate 4/20. The ninth one might surprise you.
1. Cannabis lovers from other parts of B.C. and some U.S. states are in town, filling the coffers of tourism-related businesses, including hotels.
2. The event will be livestreamed around the world, reinforcing Vancouver’s reputation as an open-minded, open-hearted city and the closest thing North America has to Amsterdam. That will bring more visitors in the future.
3. Cannabis education takes place on a wide scale at 4/20.
4. The City of Vancouver has banned edibles from being sold in dispensaries, but they’re available at 4/20.
5. The 4/20 countdown is just so much fun.
6. Did I mention all the great music? Georgia Straight cannabis writer Piper Courtenay wrote about one of the performers, Tee Krispil, in this week’s print edition. Not only is she reinventing female rap, she’s also launched her own CBD-infused tea company.
7. The ‘protest’ component of 4/20 serves as a public reminder that Justin Trudeau’s version of cannabis legalization is more like Prohibition 2.0. That’s horrible news for craft growers. They’ll be forced to deal with a provincial government distribution monopoly that will try to impose ironclad control over a freedom-loving industry.
8. If we’re lucky, the prolific Dana Larsen will be firing off commentaries to media outlets, including the Straight, that offer a truly alternative point of view to the rubbish about 4/20 advanced by civic politicians. Here’s one of his columns from last year.
9. Here’s something you might not know. April 20 is Adolf Hitler’s birthday. There was once a time when neo-Nazi and white supremacists tried to make this an issue in the media on this day. Nowadays, that’s been completely supplanted by 4/20 and the media’s focus on cannabis. Hitler has disappeared from the news. Instead, the day has become synonymous with the liberation of pot users. Hooray!
10. The 4/20 protest and celebration is large enough to remind local politicians that if they mess with the cannabis industry, they could face consequences on 10/20, which is election day in Vancouver this year. The next big challenge on the horizon is obtaining amnesty for those whose lives have been affected by convictions for possession of marijuana. Expect that to emerge as a significant federal election issue in 2019. The 4/20 event will help get the word out about this to the cannabis community.