BY THE CANADIAN PRESS | Posted Apr 20, 2020 10:20 am PDT
Smoke hangs over the crowd as people smoke at 4:20 p.m. during the annual 4-20 marijuana celebration in Vancouver on Saturday, April 20, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
VANCOUVER — What would have been Vancouver’s 26th annual marijuana festival has been sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic but organizers say a virtual celebration will go ahead.
The unsanctioned festival has attracted tens of thousands of enthusiastic pot users and vendors to previous events downtown and at a popular Vancouver beach, despite objections of local officials.
Physical distancing restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 have cancelled this year’s festival, but organizer Dana Larsen says on social media that an online celebration will replace it.
The virtual event, described as a “social-distancing-friendly, home hotbox session” begins at 11:50 a.m. Pacific, which is 4:20 p.m. in Newfoundland, and continues through the afternoon.
Larsen’s social media post says he will be giving away “a pound of cannabis” during the online gathering, while Vancouver police say they will be looking for any celebrants who decide to gather in groups.
Sgt. Aaron Roed says officers will be monitoring traditional 4-20 celebration locations, such as Sunset Beach and the plaza at the Vancouver Art Gallery, but he says police aren’t aware of specific gatherings this year.
“Social distancing measures still apply, and for health and safety we are encouraging people to stay at home and to continue to practice the measures already in place,” Roed says in an email statement.
Organizers of the annual marijuana smoke-in have never obtained a permit, while policing and repairs to grass fields have cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The 4-20 gathering takes its name from the month and day on which it is held, because the numbers coincide with 4:20 p.m., the time when the founding group of advocates would gather to share marijuana.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 20, 2020.
The Canadian Press