Canada’s self-proclaimed “Prince of Pot” says Vancouver’s massive 4/20 rally should send a potent message to the federal government about legalizing marijuana.

About 25,000 people will be smoking up in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery as part of the annual event, which is considered to be an unofficial holiday for marijuana.

This is Marc Emery’s triumphant return to the West Coast celebration after spending more than four years incarcerated in the U.S. for selling marijuana seeds.

The activist says his time behind bars has only strengthened his activism for the pro-legalization front. He says the 4/20 rally isn’t just about getting stoned.

“It constitutes the largest mass civil disobedience in the history of Canada to have 25,000 people smoking and consuming marijuana. Every aspect of cannabis culture will be here today,” he told CTV’s News Channel.

Upwards of 200 vendors are selling everything from marijuana to pot-laced edibles, including popcorn and THC-laden lollipops. Free weed will be given out as prizes for best pot plants and pot posters.

To get through the marathon day, the 56-year-old said he will “try to maintain a pace.”

“I’ll have I think 225 joints with me and a couple bottles of water. I’ll be getting as many people high and medicated as I can in a five-hour period,” he said.

Vancouver police are maintaining a heavy presence at the outdoor festival, though their mandate in former years is to keep the peace – not make arrests.

The issue of marijuana use in Canada has recently come under the microscope yet again, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives hinting that they may be prepared to make small-time marijuana possession a ticketable offense.

A puffed up campaign promise or not, Emery says the idea has merit.

“If it keeps people out of jail, if it keep people from getting a criminal record I’m in favour of any reform or modification of the law,” Emery said.

With Colorado, Oregon, Alaska and Washington State having legalized recreational marijuana – and taxable revenue from weed-based businesses rolling in, Emery says it’s time for Canada to get on board before it falls behind.

“We don’t want to be behind that legalization curve. It’s important that Canada get in and legalize relatively soon so we can maintain the economic benefit that come with a massive marijuana infrastructure,” he said.

Authorities closed down Howe Street sometime after 9 a.m. to acccomodate the growing crowd.

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