Pubdate: Thu, 09 Mar 2017
Source: Vancouver 24hours (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Vancouver 24 hrs.
Author: Ada Slivinski
Page: 8


Plans are well under way for this year's 4/20 pot party.

Organizers have begun booking booths for this year's event even though
the Vancouver Park Board has denied the group a special event permit.
Just like last year, the Park Board has been stuck in an extremely
difficult position - forced by the mayor's inaction to put up with a
4/20 party they haven't sanctioned while the federal government
constantly teeters on the verge of legalizing marijuana.

Last year, Mayor Gregor Robertson tried to wash his hands of the
problem, telling the Park Board to communicate their concerns about
the event to organizers without stepping in and taking a stand
himself. So far this year we haven't heard a thing from him.

It feels a lot like deja vu, but one thing is starkly different. This
year, our city is struggling with a fentanyl overdose crisis that is
killing some of our most vulnerable.

More than 900 lives have been lost so far. If you spend any time in
Gastown or the Downtown Eastside, every ambulance siren serves as an
eerie reminder that we are still fighting fentanyl.

Our emergency rooms are full with overdose patients. First responders
are working overtime, yet the marijuana movement is planning a party:
booking brownies booths and hookah huts. Every year, dozens of 4/20
participants are sent to hospital.

According to the City of Vancouver, last year's event cost them
$148,000 to manage, that cost was up 60 per cent from the previous
year's $92,500. All is money and resources that could be used to help
prevent overdoses.

Some 4/20 organizers maintain the day is still a protest. Why not put
that people power to good use and instead of getting high, go help
those who every day are in danger of losing their lives. Protest the
fact that people are dying on our streets. If police and hospital
resources are taken away from the real drug crisis to babysit a bunch
of partiers, the cost of this year's 4/20 could be far too high. The
4/20 website calls for volunteer to help with the event, to join the
Elite Stoner Task Force.

Imagine instead of corralling stoners, the Task Force volunteered on
the front lines of the crisis. The 4/20 event will inevitably pull
resources from the downtown eastside.

The event's organizers should acknowledge that fact and stop planning
their party until the fentanyl tide has turned.
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MAP posted-by: Matt