Pot Rally Organizers Should Pay
The annual marijuana protest at Sunset Beach this year left an adjacent field in ruins. It will be fenced off and closed to the public for up to a month while park board staff restore it. Park board officials said much of the damage could have been prevented if organizers had installed a turf protector as they had promised.
Patients Go to Hospital, 66 Emergencies
The event also led to 66 visits to St. Paul’s emergency department. Of these patients, 10 were under the age of 20. The youngest was 14. Patients mostly had consumed edibles that brought on complaints of nausea, vomiting and dizziness. An additional 25 people were seen at satellite first aid stations set up to ease the burden on St. Paul’s, while 62 people were seen at a first aid station that 4/20 organizers set up.
There were eight driving suspensions issued for the consumption of drugs, and two drivers were criminally charged with impaired driving. The event, which drew an estimated 40,000, disrupted traffic, while the smoke, noise and crowds made life unpleasant for residents.
The cost of police, paramedics and park board staff assigned to the event, along with the cost of cleanup and field restoration will amount to thousands of dollars, with the financial burden falling largely on Vancouver taxpayers.
Yet Vancouver’s mayor and council ignore these negative effects, police refuse to enforce the law — selling and consuming cannabis without a medical prescription is still illegal — and pot proponents vow their protest will continue in defiance of city bylaws or any other restrictions, even after the recreational use of marijuana is likely to be legalized in July 2018. That’s because cannabis advocates say they didn’t get everything they wanted — they object, for example, to restrictions on selling drugs to minors.
End of Festival, Coming Soon, Hopefully
Fortunately, the end is nigh for this kind of anarchic drug fest. Cannabis has become big business. Among the larger players in the Canadian industry, Canopy Growth of Smiths Falls, Ont., trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange and has a market capitalization in excess of $1.5 billion. Vancouver’s Aurora Cannabis is not far behind with a market cap of $841 million. It’s only a matter of time before big tobacco companies and major retailers squeeze out the illegal pop-up dispensaries and turn cannabis into a properly regulated industry.
In the meantime, the city should impose a financial penalty on 4/20 organizers and recoup as much of the cost of the event as possible.
Pamela McColl, SAM Canada
Neighbors generally object to this event held in Sunset Park.