Thousands enjoy a puff of pot to celebrate 4/20
Published Tuesday, April 21, 2009 7:46AM PDT
Thousands of marijuana enthusiasts came together in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery Monday to celebrate April 20th -- better known by weed smokers as 4/20.
The day is observed throughout Canada and the world as a counter-culture celebration of marijuana, and to advocate the decriminalization of cannabis.
Vendors were on hand selling everything from T-shirts to bongs to pot itself.
Vancouver Police made sure the festivities didn't get out of control. But despite current laws that punish illegal drug use, many people openly puffed away as police watched from a distance.
"It's not our first priority to intervene in this event but we do want to make sure that people are safe," said Const. Lindsay Houghton.
"Our first priority is public safety and to ensure that things don't escalate to a point where public safety becomes an issue. Our officers are certainly exercising a high degree of discretion today."
Seventeen-year-old Alysha and her three friends were among the crowd. The teen says she took the day off from work and school to come down to the Art Gallery because she wanted to celebrate with other people.
"Everybody's getting together to do something we always do and proving a point that we can do it," she said.
"It's fun, it's the day and there's so many people here and it's just the fact that you see how many people come down here. Ten thousand came down here last year...you don't get those kind of numbers for nothing."
Police are encouraging anyone who does go down to the event to arrange for a safe ride home if they are going to be under the influence of marijuana.
In past years, police in some locations have tried to disperse the gatherings either by ticketing alleged offenders or making arrests.
At least one police force in Canada issued a warning in advance of this year's expected gathering in Grande Prairie, Alta. Mounties there told media revelers could face prosecution for possession of marijuana under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act.
With files from The Canadian Press