Cannabis Day Protest Will Continue at Vancouver Art Gallery Despite Vendor Ban by City

CANNABIS CULTURE – Cannabis Day will return to the Vancouver Art Gallery grounds again this year despite construction and warnings from City officials that marijuana vendor booths will be dealt with by the police.

Statement from the Cannabis Day website:

The City of Vancouver has given the organizers of Cannabis Day its official position on our use of the Vancouver Art Gallery grounds on July 1.

Deputy City Manager Sadhu Johnston told Cannabis Day organizers that, while the City can’t by law block us from having a protest, there will be construction on the North side of the VAG where we’ve had our rally for the past 19 years.

He also said they wouldn’t permit a stage or vendors booths and that police would be responsible for dealing with vendors who set up tents and tables.

Vancouver Police Sgt. Jeff Rice told organizers that officers “don’t want to fight with people” but that marijuana vendors who set up may “risk some enforcement action” that “could result in the the loss of property.”

The Cannabis Day organizers are committed to having our protest on the South side of the Vancouver Art Gallery, facing Robson Street and the Law Courts.

All money collect for booth reservations will be refunded in full. Please contact [email protected] for information. We will attempt to contact all vendors personally as well.

Cannabis Day organizers were surprised last week to hear the City was planning construction July 1 at the VAG and to read comments from the City Deputy Manager denying that Cannabis Day is a protest.

“Organizations that are well-organized in this fashion can’t just set up pop-up markets wherever they want. It’s far beyond a protest, which is what they’ve been saying over the years. That’s not what this is. It’s an organized event like many other events and they need to go by city process,” Sadhu Johnston told the Province.

Cannabis Day organizers reacted to the comments with a statement, “20th Anniversary Cannabis Day Vancouver Protest Will Continue Despite City Threat of Shutdown”, which explained that

On June 9, 2015 – just a few weeks before the upcoming protest – Cannabis Day organizers received calls from newspaper reporters inquiring about City construction scheduled for the North side of the Art Gallery grounds on July 1. The reporters quoted City officials threatening to shut down the rally and take police action against protestors. This came as news to organizers, who had been planning the protest openly as in years previous and had not received any correspondence from City officials to inform us of the construction.

At 11pm on June 9, organizers received a letter from City officials stating that “The City of Vancouver does not support or approve this event at this location as planned and the City notes that it would violate a number of Civic Bylaws.” The letter advised organizers to find “an appropriate location” and attempt to obtain a permit from the city.

In order to obtain a permit, we would need to obtain insurance for the event, pay “application and permit fees,” pay the cost of police and fire services, pay for engineered site drawings, and provide letters of notification to nearby residents and businesses.

Cannabis Day organizers are committing to working with the city to fulfill the requirements, but have doubts about the possibility of moving the protest from its planned location at this time, since crowds will gather there no matter how much we try to advertise a new location. Moving this late in the game would likely take more time to organize than the organizers have.

But the protest must go on. Organizers are committed to continuing the Cannabis Day rally this year, we just aren’t sure exactly how it will look.

Anti-marijuana crusader Pam McColl wrote on her blog on July 7, 2015 that

Smart Approaches youth member Connor Fesenmaier (18), along with retired RCMP officer Chuck Doucette, and Pamela McColl met with Mike Serr of the VPD, directly after Cannabis Day 2014 and they were assured the event would not proceed in 2015. The Chief along with Mike Serr had drawn the line at such an event being held on a family day and the country’s birthday. SAM Canada was told that the organizers of the event would be called in and told to not organize.

Cannabis Culture could not independently verify the meeting.

The 4/20 2015 rally at the Art Gallery on April 20 received a lot of attention from the media this year, due to record-high attendance and record-high highs.

Cannabis Day organizers plan to rent sound equipment and have speeches, music and a peaceful smoke-in on the south side of the VAG this July 1. Protest starts at High Noon.