Reflections on 420, 2016
Article and Photos by Mandy Vance for the Buddha’s Sister
In college, my friend M – a socially anxious and quick convert to cannabis culture – described the day after 420 (or any big marijuana event) as “living in afterglow.”
Following this year’s 420, I feel a sense of happiness and relief that brings to mind that memory and phrase. This year’s protest felt a lot like a celebration, given the federal government’s announcement that in spring 2017, national legalization will come to fruition. Yes! Such success, and the changing atmosphere around legalization generally, allowed this event to be bigger and better organized than before. There were regular PSA’s about responsible consumption and sun safety. There were ambulances at the ready, and only 16 health incidents according to CBC. There was even free sun screen.
Held on Sunset Beach, away from it’s typical location at the Vancouver Art Gallery, 420 2016 had its detractors. Worried about losing the event’s initial counter-culture goals in what the Vancouver Sun termed a “retail extravaganza,” some protesters set up an alternative event at the Art Gallery that emphasized the work the movement still has to do.
“Don’t Force Me to Buy Corporate Pot,” one sign declared, touching on concerns that small businesses will be affected by legalization. Another sign asked: “22 thousand arrests since Trudeau said he would legalize. Legalize or Legal-lies?”
Still, the main event drew over 25,000 people and kept a necessary focus on unresolved issues, including the ongoing arrest of citizens for marijuana possession, sale and production.
“We don’t need to march. This is the people’s event,” activist Jodie Emery said on stage. She urged fellow smokers at the same time to “use your freedom to fight for those who have lost theirs. Don’t let the Liberal Government drag their feet… Legalization means you need to stop – stop arresting people now!”
“We are not stopping. The lies and discrimination continue, but we are not stopping until they stop,” Emery concluded, before her husband, Marc, took the stage via skype in Thailand, where he was advising fellow cannabis legalization activists.
“This fight is happening everywhere,” he acknowledged, to some cheers.
The husband-wife activist duo urged supporters to sign an e-petition to fully end prohibition, effective immediately, preventing further raids on dispensaries and granting amnesty to those arrested in the past for marijuana possession or sale. You can sign here:
Meanwhile, the Buddha’s Sister did its part to provide everyone with a happy 420 too. The team put together two tables, one on the beach and another by the stage. The set up on the beach offered dabs in addition to the usual spread of edibles, pre-rolls and bulk product.
“Nice display, really nice display,” raved one guest, Karen, in oversized sunglasses and an olive green maxi dress. “I saw it and I was like, I wanna go here.”