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Canada4-20 Vancouver celebration packs Sunset Beach despite recent backlash

06:35  21 april  2019
06:35  21 april  2019 Source:   globalnews.ca

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Tens of thousands descended on Sunset Beach for the annual pro-marijuana event, and many were happy to forget the recent controversies. After getting pushback from Vancouver ’s city council, park board and other sanctioned events, the annual 4 - 20 celebration went ahead as planned at Sunset

READ MORE: 4 - 20 Vancouver celebration packs Sunset Beach despite recent backlash . The park board and the city have recently passed motions directing staff to find an alternate venue for 4 - 20 to be held. The park board has also refused to issue a permit for the event due to not allowing

4-20 Vancouver celebration packs Sunset Beach despite recent backlash © Robyn Crawford/Global News A crowd of tens of thousands gathers on Sunset Beach on Saturday, April 20 for the annual 4-20 Vancouver event.

After getting pushback from Vancouver's city council, park board and other sanctioned events, the annual 4-20 celebration went ahead as planned at Sunset Beach on Saturday.

Tens of thousands of people descended on the park to take part in the pro-cannabis event, which also saw hundreds of vendor booths and several performers take the main stage.

California hip-hop group Cypress Hill graced the stage on Saturday evening as planned, despite a Vancouver Park Board motion calling on organizers to cancel the headlining performance.

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The 25th anniversary 4 / 20 celebrations at Sunset Beach , Vancouver April 20 2019. Photo by Gerry Kahrmann /PNG. About 300 vendors paid to rent tents and hundreds more set up for free on the outskirts of the main event area at Sunset Beach . California hip hop legends Cypress Hill were

Thousands of people gathered at Vancouver 's Sunset Beach to light up at the 24th annual celebration of cannabis culture. Another 4 / 20 event is in the books, after cannabis activists and aficionados packed into Sunset Beach Park in Despite cool, grey weather and a little bit of rain

The event has been at the centre of controversy for weeks, with city officials and organizers of similar large-scale events like Vancouver Pride arguing that 4-20 has outgrown its protest roots and become a festival and so should act accordingly.

Organizers insist the event is a protest against strict laws surrounding marijuana under legalization as well as the rules that keep them from obtaining an event permit from the park board.

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At the event itself, attendees were just happy to be a part of the celebration.

"Everyone here used to be protesters, but now I think they're here to enjoy something positive," Matthew Bridges said.

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Join me and Flav421, High integrity glass Art, D420K, Johnny B, and many others for a 420 Celebration at Sunset beach in Vancouver on April 20th at 4 : 20 PM.

Paul Johnson reports from Sunset Beach . 4 - 20 Vancouver celebration packs Sunset Beach despite recent backlash .

Jawad Aarji, who's visiting from Morocco, said he was happy to be part of a positive event.

"I look around and I don't see any fighting or anger; everyone is enjoying their time," he said. "It's 4-20, it's a celebration and a big gathering, and that's what Vancouver is known for."

The celebration remains unsanctioned as park board rules prevent smoking at permitted events. 4-20 Vancouver also doesn't pay policing costs, arguing that forcing protests to pay those costs goes against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

READ MORE: Park Board motion looks to scale back Vancouver 4/20 event by cancelling Cypress Hill

A leaked memo from last summer showed that policing the 2018 event at Sunset Beach cost $139,699.

There have also been concerns about damage to Sunset Beach, which last year forced park board staff to close the area for days to repair and reseed the grounds.

Organizers paid thousands of dollars to lay tiles that protect the grass, but there were still not enough to cover the entire ground up to the main stage.

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Organizers of Vancouver 's annual 4 / 20 celebration say they're planning to move the pro-marijuana event to Sunset Beach from its usual location The Vancouver Park Board, which operates the city's beaches , says the event isn't welcome on the city's recreational spaces because of those concerns.

The massive annual 4 / 20 Vancouver celebration is getting underway amid a thick cloud of controversy over whether it’s outstripped its protest routes. Paul Johnson is there to talk to some attendees.

On Saturday, 4-20 organizer Dana Larsen said he was proud of the event going forward and that attendees weren't being turned off by the controversy.

"4-20 is now what it's always been: a celebration of the cannabis plant and cannabis culture and a protest against the stigmatization and criminalization of cannabis users and growers," he said.

"That stigma is continuing to this day despite the quasi-legalization that we've been given."

On Friday, Vancouver Coun. Melissa De Genova announced that she plans to file a motion Wednesday calling for vendors and contractors at the event to cover the costs incurred by the city.

"This is a large commercial event that doesn't want to pay its fees," De Genova told Global News on Saturday. "This 'protest' sells sponsorship packages for $25,000. That's not a protest.

READ MORE: Vancouver Pride Society tells 4/20 organizers to face facts: it’s a festival, not a protest

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during the 4 - 20 annual marijuana celebration , in Vancouver , B.C., on Friday April 20, 2018. Impending federal legalization did nothing to burn out the turnout at 4 / 20 in Vancouver on Friday. ever, a crowd estimated to have peaked at 40,000 packing Sunset Beach to worship, smoke, eat

4 - 20 Vancouver celebration packs Sunset Beach despite recent backlash . Tens of thousands descended on Sunset Beach for the annual pro-marijuana event, and many were happy to forget the recent controversies.

"The organizers hold themselves above (the rules) and choose what they want to pay, and I think it's time to take a stand against that, considering cannabis is legal."

De Genova also says organizers have not obtained insurance for the event, despite assurances from Larsen and fellow organizer Jeremiah Vandermeer that they have the proper insurance.

Earlier Saturday, cannabis advocate and event spokesperson Jodie Emery said the motion doesn't make sense.

"Melissa doesn't need to file a motion. We always pay the bill," Emery said. "We pay for the aquatic centre closing, we pay for the concession closing, we pay for park staff and city staff, we pay for everything involved except policing."

Emery said the 4-20 Vancouver Society will release the total costs of the event following Saturday, including how much they paid for medical and sanitation services.

De Genova said she won't consider changing the park board rules to allow for smoking at a permitted 4-20 event, despite neighbouring municipalities like Seattle doing just that for their own cannabis celebration, known as Hempfest.

Speaking to the Canadian Press on Friday, Vancouver Park Board commissioner John Irwin said he would like to grant a permit for 4-20 but is facing resistance from fellow park board members.

"My approach is that we permit it," Irwin said. "Logically, I think that takes some of the protest steam out of the event.

"The other issue I have with not permitting it is you don't have as much control in the negotiations that occur. You can't set parameters."

Vancouver police say they haven't faced any issues that put the public at risk. No arrests have been reported.

—With files from Paul Johnson and the Canadian Press

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