Cannabis Day 2009 in Vansterdam

CANNABIS CULTURE – Thousands of marijuana smokers and activists gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery on July 1, 2009 for Cannabis Day, a day to celebrate Cannabis Freedoms.

Booming music and clouds of purple haze filled the air above downtown Vancouver for most of the afternoon, while activists gave speeches praising marijuana and its benefits and demanded an end to drug prohibition and the Conservative government’s proposed Bill C-15. Organizers estimated over 5000 people attended the rally over a six hour period.

Vendors selling bongs, pipes, clothing, and cannabis goodies of all kinds roamed the crowd and set up several up tents in front of the Art Gallery stairs, which were converted into a makeshift stage for activist speakers, musical acts, and dancing bodypainted Pot Faeries.

“The Cannabis plant is the greatest plant put on this planet without any question whatsoever,” activist and Cannabis Culture editor Marc Emery cheered into a microphone. “It makes our brain expand its consciousness so we can be better human beings, so we can have more fun, and so we can understand others.”

“It’s crazy that there’s a law against a plant,” cannabis historian Chris Bennett told the crowd, “and when we talk about cannabis, we’re talking about a plant that has a history that goes back thousands and thousands of years all over the world. We know from archeological evidence that people have been using cannabis fiber for at least 10,000 years – it was believed to even go back further than that – 25,000 years based on tools. As far as burning cannabis and inhaling its fumes, that started about 5,500 years ago according to archaeological evidence.”

Emcee Rasta Mike of Rasta Moves Entertainment held it down on the mic while several different DJs spun jams from a large sound system that could be heard for blocks around. A few Vancouver police officers patrolled the perimeter of the crowd throughout the day, but made no arrests.

“There were no brownie or butter overdoses and no busts,” activist David Malmo-Levine told Cannabis Culture after the rally, “there were only two or three bike cops there the whole time and they were chill.”

Malmo-Levine, one of the speakers at the rally, said the day exemplified peaceful and responsible marijuana use.

“Everyone had a great time. This is the model we are trying to demonstrate by direct action. This is what can happen if we stop punishing people for Flower Crimes.”

Prince of Pot Marc Emery, who is facing extradition to the United States for selling marijuana seeds online, gave a rousing speech on the perils of drug prohibition and talked about his expected upcoming stint in a US federal penitentiary. Interrupting his speech, the crowd began chanting “not one day”.

“It will, in fact, be a lot more than one day,” Emery shot back, “but you will be able to help me. As your spokesman for these last twenty years, I expect you to do your duty when I am in jail. The revolution must continue and get strengthened. You will work harder to get rid of Bill C-15, the worst thing ever proposed by our parliament, which has already passed the house of commons. It must be stopped in the Senate.”

Bill C-15, which will bring mandatory minimums sentences for non-violent drug crimes to Canada and give jail terms to growers of even a few plants, has passed the House of Commons and will be voted on by the Senate once it returns from summer break.

“We’re here on Canada Day, we call it Cannabis Day, because we are so proud of this wonderful plant that makes us peaceful,” CC editor and former BC Green Party candidate Jodie Emery told the audience. “Canada was known for years to be a land, true north strong and free, where we smoke it, and we grow it, and we share it, and we love it. But now our Conservative government wants to reverse that.”

Click here to find out how to help stop Bill C-15 from becoming Canadian law.

Click here to find out about Marc Emery’s possible extradition to the United States.

Click pictures to enlarge

Photos by Jeremiah Vandermeer.