British Columbia

Police monitoring for groups of 420 revellers as cannabis party moves online

Vancouver police say while there is no organized event for 420 this Monday, they are monitoring locations where smaller groups of people may gather for the pot celebration despite physical distancing measures.

Annual pot celebration usually draws tens of thousands to Sunset Beach

People celebrate 420 during the annual event at Sunset Beach in Vancouver, on Saturday, April 20, 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Vancouver police say while there is no organized event for 420 this Monday, they are monitoring locations where smaller groups of people may gather for the pot celebration despite physical distancing measures in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Every year, thousands of cannabis enthusiasts light up at the annual 420 celebrations in Vancouver's West End neighbourhood.

This year, instead of vendors and participants coming together in large crowds at Sunset Beach, a virtual 420 is being hosted on the Pot TV and Cannabis Life Network websites.

A cannabis smoker at Vancouver's annual 420 celebration. According to the United Nations, more people in British Columbia used cannabis in 2017 than elsewhere in Canada. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Police say they still expect some people will gather to promote the event, which organizers have described for years as a pro-cannabis protest.

"There is no group or area that has organized for any specific location, but we will be monitoring the traditional locations of Sunset Beach and the art gallery," said Sgt. Aaron Roed in a statement emailed to CBC News. "VPD officers will also be monitoring any location that may pop up as a grouping location."

VPD would not release its specific plans to deal with any protesters violating physical distancing for security reasons, but said advice from public health officials against large gatherings is still in effect.

"Social distancing measures still apply and for health and safety we are encouraging people to stay at home and to continue to practise the measures already in place."

People celebrate during the annual 420 protest at Sunset Beach in Vancouver. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Last year, police reported about 60,000 people attended the event, with 400 vendor tents set up. 

There were 14 medical emergencies at the event, but no major incidents.

Every year, the Vancouver Park Board has denied organizers a permit, citing the bylaw against smoking in city parks. In 2019, the board passed a motion asking organizers to cancel a concert by popular group Cypress Hill, in an effort to control crowd size.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now