COA News 2024


Celebrating 4-20 in Vancouver and protesting a no-show at Sunset Beach amid police action

Cannabis enthusiasts and would-be protesters who headed to Vancouver’s Sunset Beach expecting four to 20 festivals to take place this year were instead met with fences and police officers.

Vancouver Police Department shared a photo on social media of a one-page handout, it said officers handed it out to 4 to 20 protesters “across the city.”

“The Vancouver Police Department has clearly communicated to event organizers that the right to gather and protest will be supported, while also addressing the need to enforce applicable laws, including those prohibiting the sale and regulate the possession of cannabis,” the document said. , partially.

“If you are considering selling cannabis at this event, we encourage you to communicate with the police officers in attendance to ensure you are adhering to the law, including the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act which requires a person in the possesses a valid license and proves that all cannabis has been legally obtained.”

Online event listings advertised an event on Sunset Beach with vendors and a stage, but there was no sign of that on Saturday.

Instead, a blue metal fence had been erected around the area where the meeting was planned.

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation released a statement Friday calling the 4-20 gathering “unauthorized” and “unsanctioned” and promising to fence off certain areas of the park “to prevent ground and grass damage.”

The park board said it also planned to close the Vancouver Aquatic Centre, the Sunset Beach restrooms and the parking lots for Sunset Beach, English Bay and the aquatic centre.

“Park rangers, Vancouver Police and city conservation services will be on site throughout the day to support public safety,” the statement reads.

Fences were also installed at Thornton Park, according to longtime Vancouver 4-20 organizer Dana Larsen, who was not involved in the planning of events held this year or last year, but did support a meeting held at Thornton Park last year .

Larsen wrote on social media that the park board and the VPD had “worked aggressively to close four to 20 events this year,” calling the move “pathetic.”

With the planned gathering on Sunset Beach effectively halted, many four to twenty revelers moved to the south plaza of the Vancouver Art Gallery at Robson Square.

Just outside Robson Square, Sgt. Steve Addison with the VPD told CTV News officers were in Sunset Beach “first thing this morning” to distribute the notice to vendors.

“We spoke to a number of people who arrived to set up and when we informed them that their products could be confiscated for a CCLA violation, a number of people chose not to participate,” he said.

“Certain people chose to move here; other people chose to just go home,” he said. “Ultimately, the large gathering of 4-20 people we saw today in downtown Vancouver took place here at the art gallery.”

Shortly after 4:20 p.m., the VPD shared a photo of numerous bags of dried cannabis and other products that officers said were seized from a vendor “who refused to stop illegally selling” outside the art gallery.

Addison said police issued “some” tickets for selling cannabis without a license, but told CTV News he could not specify how many tickets were handed out or how much product was seized.

In recent years, especially before the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual 4 to 20 protests at the art gallery and later at Sunset Beach attracted thousands of participants, including numerous vendors selling cannabis and cannabis-related products.

Police have generally refrained from confiscating products from vendors during previous four to 20 events.

Addison insisted that the VPD’s approach this year was similar to the 4-20s since the legalization of recreational cannabis – namely “educating people about the CCLA.”

“Our role here is public safety; our role here is to facilitate a peaceful and lawful protest,” he said, adding that no major problems occurred during the events.

With files from Kaija Jussinoja of CTV News Vancouver