Thousands Light Up At Vancouver Pot-Smoking Day


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Sam McKinnon, spent three days working on her international pot-smoking day costume: a green tutu and T-shirt printed with the words
"THC Fairy."

The annual event – known simply as "4/20" in reference to the date, April 20 – lured thousands of weed worshippers to the lawn of the Vancouver Art Gallery on Friday for a collective toke that lasted all afternoon.

You could smell it from at least two blocks away.

"It's a big deal," said McKinnon, 17, standing at the corner of Howe and Georgia just after 4:20 p.m., when organizers handed out about 400 free joints to the crowd.

Behind her, plumes of skunky smoke clouded the blue sky. Canned reggae music played over a sound system drowning out the traffic.

"We're all about the same thing – pot," said McKinnon, showing off her braces as she grinned. "We all share the love for the same thing."
Love it they did.

Wherever you looked people were busily rolling joints, passing pipes, admiring each other's bongs or passing out stems from marijuana plants. The crowd – made up of everyone from aging hippies and skateboarders to yuppies and goth brats – bubbled over onto the sidewalks along Georgia and Howe.

It was the biggest gathering of its kind yet, said so-called prince of pot Marc Emery.

"It emboldens us when we see we can gather 7,000 or 8,000 people together in a public space," said Emery, the head of the B.C. Marijuana Party. When the smoke-in began, back in 1997, he said, only 50 people showed up.

"It's certainly a community that supports its cannabis," said Emery. "Vancouver is the greatest city on Earth."

And on Friday it might have been one of the most stoned cities on Earth.
The marijuana revellers don't misbehave, Emery pointed out.

Apart from a few security guards, who patrol the 2010 Olympic countdown clock, there were no police officers on site.

"They didn't even see a need to send any over," Emery said. "It was very orderly."

The masses of people, many of whom sported costumes or waved flags, caught the eye of tourist Yingke Wang, 22, who stopped to photograph the event.

"You wouldn't see this elsewhere," said Wang, of Cardiff, Whales. "I'd say it's pot-smoking on a very big scale."

And if they weren't inhaling or munching on marijuana-laced baked goods, they were busy eating junk food or sipping slurpees and fighting the "munchies" – like Chance Ernewin, 16, of Vancouver.

"It's great that we can do this," said Ernewin, scooping handfuls of potato chips and chocolate cookies into his mouth. "Stoned people are so relaxed."

Amber Hamilton, 23, said she looks forward to pot day more than other holidays – even Christmas.

"It's always nice on this day," Hamilton said. "When it comes up I like to take the day off work."

Hamilton said it makes some laws seem ironic.

"You can't go to Wreck Beach and have a beer because you'll get arrested but you can do this – get together and smoke pot," said Hamilton.

And Grant Hatson, 15, a Grade 11 student from North Vancouver summed up the laws relating to pot in Vancouver: "It's illegal but it's not really illegal."

Now the question is, did the city inhale?

Newshawk: CoZmO -
Source: The Vancouver Sun (Canada)
Author: Chantal Eustace
Copyright: 2006 CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.
Website: Vancouver Sun
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