It’s ‘High’ Time To ‘Get Off the Pot’!

imageūüϧ By Shawn J. ¬¶ Founding Editor, Calling Out Community
✒ Originally Posted April 21, 2015.  Updated April 20, 2016
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marijuana-justin-trudeau“4/20” has become synonymous with a¬†large, festival-like event in a city near you,¬†held on April 20 annually, culminating with a massive¬†public rally¬†at 4:20 PM that day.

Live bands will¬†play, there will be¬†friends and food aplenty, everyone’s gonna be smiling, will be conducting themselves peacefully and having a good time. ¬†Maybe there will be some lameass politicians (like Justin Trudeau) trying to get in on the love and capitalize on the crowds. ¬†For the most part though, it’s relatively lowkey.

And the focus¬†for this non-stop love fest? ¬†Simply put, this event¬†is hosted for the unfettered adoration,¬†glorification, education and¬†legalization of…

Grass, 420, Ganga, Dope, Herb, Joint, Blunt, Cannabis, Reefer, Mary Jane, Bud, Stinkweed, Nuggets, Tobacco, Hay, Rope, Gangster, Skunk, Boom, Blaze, Ashes, Block, Boo, Broccoli, Burrito, Burnie, Charge.

Yep, you guessed it.  Marijuana.  Pot.  Weed.


Now, no one is entirely certain why or how April 20 first related to the smoking of pot, but the Huffington Post has proposed some theories. Regardless of its roots, attendees of this¬†nonsensical “non-event”¬†singularly worship at the altar of an¬†illegal drug, at an event that has morphed from humble beginnings into a slick media-friendly production with equal hints of¬†Woodstock, an evangelistic church service,¬†Canada Day BBQ, New Year’s Eve party, political rally, and trade expo, with the script from a bad Cheech and Chong flick interwoven throughout.

But don’t kid yourself – this massive international¬†one-day “peaceful protest” is merely an anarchist “smoke screen” (pardon the pun) for the real agenda: ¬†an increasingly blatant violation of the Criminal Code of Canada; ¬†an open forum for the mockery of family values, social decency, the Law, police, the Church and government officials, all foundational elements of Canadian society but considered¬†a¬†threat to the¬†“progressive” pot agenda; and most important of all, a voice¬†for the¬†legalization¬†of the drug trade¬†in Canada and around the world. ¬†And a voice that has been bolstered by our idiot Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

Marc Emery, The Prince of Pot, doing what he does best. Credit: Marc Emery

Marc Emery, The Prince of Pot, doing what he does best. Credit: Marc Emery

And it all started in my city of Vancouver, Canada which probably doesn’t surprise you. ¬†After all, a half-baked¬†element of this city has been on the proponent frontline of the so-called War on Drugs for decades (check out our companion article on why we believe that¬†War is already over). ¬†And no one is more half-baked than Marc Emery,¬†the founder of the illegal¬†headshop HEMP BC, which opened on July 7, 1994. ¬†This¬†media-dubbed “Prince of Pot” recalls the first organization of the event in our city (emphasis mine thoughout):

I remember my store manager Danna Rozek and an employee named Cindy Lassu came up to me in early April 1995, and said, ‚ÄúMarc, can we have a 4/20 celebration on April 20th next door in Victory Park?‚ÄĚ I responded, ‚Äúlike, on 4:20 in the afternoon on April 20?‚ÄĚ and they said, ‚ÄúNo, like all day on April 20.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúWhat will we do all day?‚ÄĚ I asked, and they said ‚ÄúSmoke pot all day and play music.‚ÄĚ I replied, ‚Äúwe can‚Äôt just smoke pot all day. That‚Äôs decadent. [emphasis mine]¬†No, you can‚Äôt do it.‚ÄĚ

Rebuffed, Ms. Rozek then asked, ‚ÄúCan we just go ahead and do it anyway even if you don‚Äôt approve?‚ÄĚ So I said yes and the staff organized the first April 20 celebration I ever heard of, at Victory Square/Park next door.

200 people came that April 20, 1995 and it was a lovely time, with music starting at 2pm and going till 7pm. 

IMG_0688In 1996, over 500 people came to Victory Park and smoked pot all day with the event starting at noon. 

It was decided that Victory Square was too small for the 1997 April 20 smoke-fest, so the traditional political rally location of the Vancouver Art Gallery, in downtown Vancouver’s financial district, was the site of the 1997 4/20 celebration. Over 1,000 people attended the 1997 Vancouver 4/20 and was widely covered in media and the phenomenon began to spread to other locations across North America

Like a bad virus, this event has indeed now “spread” far and wide –¬†in 2015 alone, rallies were reported in Canadian cities including Vancouver, Toronto, Victoria, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Hamilton, Ottawa and more. ¬†US cities know to have rallies included Denver, New York, Boston, San Francisco, Oakland, Dallas, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Miami and many others. ¬†And even Australia, New Zealand and parts of Europe were toking /¬†smoking up in support.

At this year’s Vancouver event, people were already beginning to assemble at 9:00 AM. ¬†The event has in fact become so¬†large, it even has its own website and organizing committee. ¬†The festivities continued throughout the day, and the crowds continued to grow, as live bands played, and tons of food trucks served up their best. ¬†(As an aside, holy cow¬†can stoned people ever EAT¬†– all the¬†local 7-11 stores were¬†almost completely emptied of …. well everything¬†during the day).

At 4:20, a hush fell over the crowd – as did a massive cloud of pot smoke – as the 20,000 Vancouver 4/20 attendees all lit up at once.

Later in the afternoon, the crowds grea, on this 20th Anniversary event, to an estimated (and slightly suspicious) stoned-out throng of over 20,000 people.

Then came the speeches and the rally posters and the typical, “Harper-is-the-Antichrist-and-Trudeau-is-cool-cause-he’s-a-pothead-though-none-of-us-actually-plan-to-vote” kind of rhetoric. ¬†The “highlight” ¬†was the Crown Prince of Illegal Drug Trafficking, Marc Emergy himself (who had been recently sprung from an¬†American jail cell after serving time for drug trafficking charges). ¬†His momma must be very proud.

Right at 4:19:50, the massive crowd of 20,000 began to countdown from 10 Рand you could hear them for blocks doing so.  I know, because my legal services firm office is literally 1/2 block away from the centre of the action.

Then, right at 4:20, silence fell over the downtown core, as thousands of stoners all lit up their joints and pipes at once.  I think you could see the cloud of pot smoke from the International Space Station.  It was literally like a massive fog had descended without warning on the downtown core.  You could likely smell it from there too.

Now, I leave my office in Downtown Vancouver at 5:00 PM daily, and I have in the past felt stoned against my will, just by walking to the Skytrain station from my office – only 3 blocks away.

IMG_0695-0This year, I decided to quickly walk around the grounds of the Gallery though first and get some photos, and see if there was anything interesting to report for this blog.  What I witnessed was so surprising, I am still trying to process what it is I was seeing.

Beside the Art Gallery there was a bit of a trade expo going on, with perhaps 20-30 booths – business people selling food (food trucks were making an absolute fortune with 20,000 people getting the munchies at once), bongs; pot cookies, brownies and other “baked” goods…

And what’s THIS? ¬†At least 10 booths openly, aggressively, unashamedly selling DRUGS in front of the police. ¬†This wasn’t behind closed doors at a medical marijuana dispensary. ¬†This wasn’t some greasy sketch nervously eyeing the crowd around him as he slipped you a baggie in a back alley.

No Рone booth actually had a 5-GALLON PAIL full of pot baggies Рestimated at tens of thousands of dollars Рall completely out and open, weighing out pot strains with crazy names like Cotton Candy, Purple Kush and Sour Diesel.

Yes, I may have been the only one in the city unaware that¬†there are drug dealers everywhere at a 4/20 Event. ¬†And these dealers don’t need to whisper you into a back alley to complete transactions. ¬†No no –¬†they can reserve a free¬†trade show booth¬†at this event – selling¬†the stinky, sticky buds as if they were¬†selling¬†bulk peanuts at Superstore. They GET A BUSINESS LICENSE From the city of Vancouver¬†to hawk their illegal wares.

Underage? Not a problem – the industry is obviously¬†not regulated since it’s usually ILLEGAL. ¬†I saw many young people who were clearly not yet 18 buying and toking up, under the full view of Vancouver Police officers. Clearly, no photo ID must be¬†required. ¬†In fact, a good percentage of the crowd at the 420 event in Downtown Vancouver were underage high school students.

This fact alone enrages me. ¬†In fact, Vancouver Coastal Health has called¬†for a ban of “edibles” (pot brownies, etc) to minors. ¬†Why? ¬†Because in 2015 alone, more than 100 kids under the age of 15 were hospitalized for overdosing.

If this Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Patricia Daly, actually gave a damn about the situation, she wouldn’t be releasing a statement 2 days before the event when it was bound to be completely useless.

In fact, I think people ought to be writing or calling her today and thanking her for her useless leadership in this issue:

Dr. Patricia Daly, Chief Medical Health Officer & Vice-President, Public Health
800 ‚Äď 601 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC V5Z 4C2
Tel: 604.675.3900
Fax: 604.731.2756

My tongue was firmly planted in my cheek as I started to write this posting – as¬†unlike 20,000 of my¬†fellow¬†citizens in Vancouver on 4/20,¬†I could still actually feel my tongue and my cheek.¬† But when I saw how blatantly the drug trade was allowed to operate in Vancouver on 4/20, I got angry. ¬†Not Nancy Reagan “Just Say No” kind of angry. ¬†No, this was more like Jesus-kicking-the-moneychangers-out-of-the-temple angry. ¬†I wanted to seriously kick some ass.

I wanted to light it all on fire.

Previously, if you wanted to buy pot in Greater Vancouver, I understand you had to catch some sketchy looking guy on a street corner, or call one of these dial-a-dope operations. ¬†(I’m curious – does the¬†“dope” refer to what you are¬†buying or who you were buying it from?¬†¬†Things that make you go hmmmm….)

What a difference a day makes!

IMG_0689-0On April 19, according to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, Section 4(1), trafficking in marijuana or hashish or possession for the purpose of trafficking (over 3 kgs.) could land a dealer a life sentence in prison, with a minimum of 2 years if he/she committed the offence (a) in or near a school or any other public place usually frequented by minors (b) at a prison, or (c) with the assistance or involvement of a minor.

But on April 20, these same¬†dealers have been elevated to legitimate business owners¬†with websites, business cards, brochures, letterhead. ¬†And at 4/20, with 20,000 customers ready and willing, one¬†could sell an entire year’s supply of pot in one afternoon- at a place clearly frequented by a LOT of minors. ¬†It’s like Boxing Day for the Blasted. ¬†Black Friday for the Fried. ¬†A giant one day Sale for the Smashed.

And Vancouver Police just stand around and watch. ¬†Well done. ¬†Like the Stanley Cup riots a few years ago, I feel so much better knowing you are on duty, protecting our city’s vital interests and….

Oh great. ¬†You’re high too, aren’t you. ¬†Ugh, never mind.


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