This year’s 4/20 bash in Vancouver, British Columbia was already set to be the biggest ever. 2019 is the 25th anniversary of the 420Vancouver festival. And this year, the event falls on a Saturday on a long weekend for the Easter holiday. And of course, it’s the first 4/20 since Canada legalized marijuana for adult use. But now that event organizers have announced Cypress Hill as the headlining act, the festival is going to be absolutely huge.
No surprise, the Vancouver Park Board isn’t too happy about that. And so they’re asking organizers to do something, anything to scale it back. If the park board had their way, that would mean cancelling Cypress Hill. So far, organizers aren’t backing down.
Vancouver Park Officials are Freaking Out about 4/20
Cannabis events have historically been unsanctioned, unlicensed events. Since it wasn’t really possible to follow the rules when organizing mass gatherings for the purpose of enjoying and consuming illegal plants, they had to be that way. But now that cannabis is legal, event organizers are finding out that city officials expect them to pay for permits, fees, police—everything that goes into throwing a public happening.
When cannabis events were smaller, more fringe affairs, this wasn’t such a big deal. But now that they can attract tens if not hundreds of thousands of people, officials are beginning to panic. In Vancouver, the annual 4/20 celebration used to happen outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. But in 2017, organizers moved the event to Sunset Beach to deal with the larger crowds.
But when organizers announced Cypress Hill as the festival headliner, Vancouver Park Board officials started freaking out. Commissioner John Coupar called the addition of Cypress Hill an “unacceptable escalation.”
As a result, Coupar filed a motion, which the rest of the park board passed, asking organizers to cancel the Cypress Hill performance. Park commissioners also sent requests for emergency meetings with Vancouver police, fire and rescue services.
Request to Cancel Cypress Hill Meant to Send a Message
Last year, 420Vancouver drew more than 40,000 people to Sunset Beach. Events that large require permits and other costs, but the 4/20 event didn’t obtain any. And so far, event organizers haven’t obtained any permits for their 2019 celebration, either. “It’s almost like they’re saying, ‘Okay, you think it was big last year, we’re going to really make it bigger and there’s nothing you can do about it,'” Coupar said.
Coupar compared the 4/20 event to other major public events, like Vancouver’s Celebration of Light. “They pay all the fees, they pay all the policing. We don’t allow 250,000 people to come down to English Bay and drink openly on the beach,” Coupar said. The cost of hiring police to provide event security runs about C$200,000.
And that’s why Coupar hopes this year’s 4/20 event organizers to view commissioners’ request to cancel Cypress Hill as a message. “We’re sending a message. If they want to work in the future with any of the agencies of the city, I think they should consider a reasonable request from the Vancouver Park Board.”