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Advocacy group calls on Vancouver to 'embrace' cannabis tourism after 4-20 'debacle'

Sunset Beach in Vancouver is seen on April 20, 2024, after officials set up fences to deter 4-20 protesters and police cracked down on unlicensed cannabis vending. (CTV News) Sunset Beach in Vancouver is seen on April 20, 2024, after officials set up fences to deter 4-20 protesters and police cracked down on unlicensed cannabis vending. (CTV News)
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The head of a B.C. cannabis growers group says the City of Vancouver's choice to discourage instead of sanction a marijuana celebration over the weekend was a costly "missed opportunity."

The BC Craft Farmers Co-Op says the city should rethink its approach to 4-20 celebrations and sanction what could be an “international cannabis tourism event.”

Co-op president Tara Kirkpatrick says the city erected barriers around Sunset Beach and had police target vendors at the unsanctioned celebration over the weekend, instead of authorizing a “professionally run special event,” similar to the annual Pride Parade.

Previous celebrations in Vancouver on April 20 - considered the day to celebrate smoking cannabis - have drawn tens of thousands of people, caused traffic gridlock and expensive damage to city parks.

However, Kirkpatrick says such an event could generate millions in tourism revenues for the province, which could cash in on B.C.'s “rich cannabis culture” and reputation as a place with “legendary craft cannabis farmers.”

Vancouver's Park Board had temporary fences put up, and closed washrooms and parking lots on Saturday as a way to “mitigate” what it said was a “non-sanctioned cannabis protest event.”

The group says Vancouver could have followed in the footsteps of the City of Prince George, which held a permitted “cannabis summit” over the weekend attended by thousands, including the city's mayor.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2024.

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