Pubdate: Mon, 06 Mar 2017
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Nick Eagland
Page: 6


Park board set to weigh risks, benefits of issuing permits for popular
events celebrating marijuana

The fate of Vancouver's growing annual 4/20 cannabis rally will be up
for debate Monday at a park board meeting that could pave the way for
permitted events.

The board will consider two motions, according to a report prepared by
Octavio Silva, manager of business development. The first would deny
approval or permits for any future 4/20 rally or Cannabis Day event on
park board property. But if that motion fails, the park board will
discuss granting the Vancouver 4/20 Events Society a permit to hold
its event on April 20 at Sunset Beach Park.

The board could direct staff to issue the permit "with all
arrangements to the satisfaction of the general manager of the park
board." It would also give the event an exemption to the anti-smoking
bylaw and grant vendors permission to sell food, beverages and other

In January, a group made up of city and park board staff, police and
fire and rescue personnel was formed along with a steering committee
to look at improving the planning, decision-making and operation of
the 4/20 event.

"While both groups acknowledge the challenging aspects associated with
the 4/20 celebration and protest, they also recognize that the event
will occur regardless," the report said. "Further, with the impending
federal legalization of marijuana, there is recognition that in the
foreseeable future, the 4/20 initiative will likely shift from being a
protest to a legal celebration."

Monday, the board will weigh the risks and benefits of permitting the
4/20 event.

The board is concerned a permit would set precedent and encourage
other events involving smoking at parks and beaches. Allowing smoking
conflicts with the board's mandate of promoting health and allowing it
by permit could harm the park board's reputation because an illegal
product would be sold and consumed at the event, according to the report.

But a permit would also reduce the liability to the board and city by
letting organizers seek insurance. It would regulate vendors, help
with cost recovery through permit fees - an estimated $155,000 for
2017 - and set expectations that would help improve compliance and
communications, the report said.

Dana Larsen, director of Sensible B.C. and an organizer with the
Vancouver 4/20 Events Society, said acquiring a permit won't change
how the event is run and planned, which he said has always been in
consultation with city and park board staff.

"Ultimately all a permit really means is that they'd be willing to
accept our money to help cover some of the expenses from the event,"
he said. "But I mean, for us, I'd much rather have a permit because I
don't see why we shouldn't get one. If we were all drinking booze we'd
be getting a permit … to me it just makes more sense. I'd rather be
treated like any other event."
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MAP posted-by: Matt