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OPINION: Vancouver 4/20 is a protest against stigmatization of cannabis

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Guest Author Mar 08, 2019 9:45 am

Written for Daily Hive by Dana Larsen, Director of the Vancouver Dispensary Society, Organizer for Vancouver 4/20, and author of books including Hairy Pothead and the Marijuana Stone.


Some people have said that 4/20 is no longer a protest. These people are absolutely wrong!

For 25 years, 420 has been a massive act of public civil disobedience, and remains a powerful protest against the ongoing stigmatization and criminalization of cannabis users and growers.

Despite “legalization” there is still much to protest and much work to be done in terms of achieving equality and fairness for cannabis users, both here in Vancouver and all across Canada.

Here are some of the many reasons why 4/20 is a protest and what it is we are fighting for.

We are protesting that cannabis users have nowhere legal to use cannabis.

We are protesting that we are treated and punished far more severely than alcohol users in every way.

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We are protesting that we can be imprisoned and fined just for letting someone see one legal plant growing in our garden.

We are protesting that the cannabis industry is being taken over by millionaires, ex-cops and prohibitionist politicians, while those communities most harmed by prohibition are left out and continue to be demonized.

We are protesting that it has become harder for patients to access medical cannabis now than it was before “legalization.”

420 Vancouver

4/20 celebrations at Sunset Beach in Vancouver in 2017

We are protesting that events with alcohol use can get permits to use public spaces, but events with cannabis use are forbidden from getting permits.

We are protesting the high taxes on cannabis, especially taxes on medical cannabis, which is taxed like no other legal medicine.

We are protesting arbitrary limitations, like how growing more than 4 cannabis plants at home remains a serious crime, but there are no limits on home beer brewing.

We are protesting discriminatory driving laws which declare people to be impaired even if they are a medical user or haven’t ingested cannabis for days.

We are protesting the VPD raid and seizure of cannabis from the Overdose Prevention Site, where it was being offered as a safer substitute for opioids.

We are protesting Vancouver city bylaws which restrict cannabis shops far more strictly than liquor stores.

We protest in solidarity with those around the world who live in more repressive regimes and suffer torture and execution over cannabis.

I could go on and on. Anyone who says “there is nothing to protest” isn’t paying attention.

A protest is an act of civil disobedience designed to challenge existing rules, draw public attention to an issue, and create social and political change. In all those regards, 4/20 is a very successful protest!

I hope you will join us at Sunset Beach on April 20, to join us in a celebration of cannabis, and a protest against the prohibition, punishments and stigma which remain.

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