Vancouver 4/20: No to Sunset Beach, yes to smaller art gallery events – 71Bait

The annual protest rally and market, which usually draws tens of thousands on April 20, is canceled again because of the pandemic

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The organizers of the big 4/20 celebration that has taken place on Sunset Beach for the past few years are not planning a repeat for 2022.

The annual protest rally and market, which normally draws tens of thousands of marijuana enthusiasts and vendors, will not take place, the third consecutive cancellation due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately, COVID regulations were not lifted in time for us to organize a large-scale 4/20 event that met our standards,” the 4/20 Vancouver organizers announced on their website.

Dana Larsen said he and other organizers usually start planning in December and there was still “too much uncertainty” about the status of COVID to get things going.

“The construction costs a lot of money and is an enormous organizational effort,” says Larsen.

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Larsen said he hopes the event will return to Sunset Beach next year, although “it’s a volatile situation in the world right now” and he wouldn’t make any assurances.

There’s some good news for those looking for a pot party in 2022.

Another group, calling themselves the Vancouver 4/20 Market, plans to hold a smaller event at the Vancouver Art Gallery, which was the site of celebrations for many years before heading to the beach.

One of the organisers, Adilynn McArdle, said the group had held concerts on March 20 for the past several years.

McArdle said between 100 and 200 potential vendors have been in touch. As for the size of the crowd, “it’s hard to tell if you’re from COVID.”

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But McArdle stressed that the 4/20 protests must continue to fight for “proper legalization of cannabis.” McArdle noted that the legal marijuana market has pushed up prices for medical marijuana users and the poor, forcing them to seek gray and black market products.

Police continue to crack down on unlicensed sellers, McArdle said. The Blue Door, which sells inexpensive weed to those most in need in downtown Eastside, recently closed. And the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club was fined $6.5 million earlier this year after raids in 2019 and 2020 despite being the oldest compassion club in Canada.

The Vancouver 4/20 event began in 1995 with just a handful of attendees downtown and over the years has grown to more than 100,000 people spanning a number of years across the art gallery. Organizers moved it to Sunset Beach a few years ago to minimize traffic disruption.

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The legalization of marijuana did not end the celebrations, as advocates continued to push for wider acceptance by growers and users and an end to the criminalization of drug use in general. But COVID has made it difficult to organize a public event on a larger scale in recent years.

Despite COVID, a few hundred people gathered on the beach last year to celebrate all things pot, but it wasn’t an organized event. Some may reappear in 2022, but Larsen noted he’ll likely stop by the art galleries gathering and check it out instead.

He and other Vancouver 4/20 organizers have no part in the planning, but “they certainly have our blessings,” he said.

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