‘They Asked For Legalization, and Legalization is Coming:’ Is 4/20 Pot Festival Obsolete?

Article by Michelle Ghoussoub, CBC News

'They asked for legalization, and legalization is coming:' Is 4/20 pot festival obsolete? Does the event still count as an act of civil disobedience if pot is legal? By Michelle Ghoussoub, CBC News. A man lights up a joint at Vancouver's 4/20 event on Sunset Beach in 2017. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

As B.C. begins to fill in the details about how non-medical marijuana will be regulated and sold once officially legalized, the annual debacle around 4/20 — Vancouver’s ‘potestival’ celebrating cannabis culture — is just kicking off.

The debate around the location of the event — which does not have a permit from the city — has been ongoing since it moved from the Vancouver Art Gallery to Sunset Beach.

Organizers say that 4/20 is a boon to the local community and the businesses that surround the site, a free, family-friendly event that causes minimal damage to property when compared to other events endorsed by the city.

Park board members argue the event violates smoking bylaws, costs thousands in repairs to public property and is one of the biggest sources of complaints from residents.

But the usual debate over the event may be overshadowed by a larger question this year — what’s the point of 4/20, an event that bills itself as an act of civil disobedience — when pot will soon be legal?

Blunt questions

Park board commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung and 4/20 organizer Dana Larsen say they both support the regulations announced by the province on Monday.

But that’s just about all they agree on.

“People are still being arrested every day for possession and cannabis offences in Canada, so we still have a lot to protest about,” said Larsen.

But according to Kirby-Yung, the event has long since lost its activist roots.

“They asked for legalization, and legalization is coming,” she said. “It’s not a protest any longer. There are hundreds of booths selling products.”

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