Manitoba

4/20 sees marijuana advocates light up at Manitoba legislature

The Manitoba Legislative Building grounds became a little hazy Wednesday, as marijuana advocates and enthusiasts lit up for the annual event known as 4/20.

'We haven't won yet,' says Winnipeg pot advocate

April 20 sparks a yearly protest called 4/20 when people advocate for the legalization of marijuana. 0:55

The Manitoba Legislative Building grounds became a little hazy Wednesday, as marijuana advocates and enthusiasts lit up for the annual event known as 4/20.

Held across North America and beyond on April 20, the annual event began as a protest against the criminalization of marijuana. The designated time for lighting up is 4:20 p.m., but many smoke pot on the legislature grounds throughout the day.

Police escorted a march through downtown Winnipeg to the legislative ground, where there were guest speakers, musicians, giveaways, a silent auction and street vendors and food trucks from noon until 5 p.m.

The meaning of 4/20 is taking a new turn in recent years, especially with the Canadian government on track to legalize marijuana, says Winnipeg marijuana advocate Steven Stairs.

"Over the years, 4/20 has definitely been emerging from a protest to a more celebratory atmosphere. And I think when pot becomes finally legalized, we will definitely turn it into a celebration," he said.

At the same time, Stairs said he believes 4/20 won't be going away.

"Right now it is more celebratory, but we haven't won yet. I mean, people are still going to jail, people are still being arrested, people are still losing their jobs and their families for pot, and until that stops, we'll still be here."

In a speech to a special session of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Health Minister Jane Philpott said legislation to legalize marijuana in Canada would be introduced in spring 2017.

Premier-designate Brian Pallister said he'll work with the federal Liberal government on instituting the law but he has concerns.

"I have a friend who lost his friend on graduation night. He never had a drink — he was at a safe grad. But he was definitely smoking. So it's a concern. It's a concern for parents, it's a concern for all ... that this be done properly," Pallister said.

The pro-marijuana demonstration in Winnipeg took place just metres away from Pallister's first post election press conference at the legislature.

The 4/20 moniker dates back to the pot culture of California in the early 1970s, but it became formally attached to April 20 when a group of Vancouver activists held the first day-long rally in 1995.