A quick recap of the largest 420 gatherings across Canada in 2019

Published May 3, 2019 12:17 p.m. ET
Canadian Press, Justin Tang

420 has officially come and gone, and this year’s festivities mark a special occasion as cannabis advocates unite to rejoice over marijuana legalization in Canada. Despite the ever-growing popularity of the industry, there are still some challenging barriers for 420 organizers to navigate as the backlash from the surrounding communities have kept many regions from offering or even allowing licensing of any public park located cannabis related events. Interested patrons held their breath as they patiently awaited the results of these unsanctioned and unlicensed gatherings.

Some of the biggest 420 parties like the one in Vancouver even faced city officials threatening to shut down the entire park if organizers refused to cancel their number one scheduled act which featured Cypress Hill. Now that the big day has officially passed, it’s time to tally the official turnouts and most popular attractions at this year’s biggest 420 festivals across Canada.

Toronto

Torontonians had to brave the incredibly chilly temperatures on top of a downpour that nearly washed out the entire celebration. In the early hours of April 20th, there were only a handful of people who showed up to partake. However, by the end of the evening, as the rain began to let up people began flocking to the park in huge groups that resulted in an estimated 3000 participants, 20 different vendors that supplied treats like dry herb, concentrates, seeds, and marijuana edibles to an excited crowd. Toronto’s festivities were one of the few that got smaller this year, but that’s mainly due to the inclimate temperatures and soggy start. In the end, thousands of participants still managed to celebrate the traditional way, with a massive cloud of smoke hovering at 4:20.  

London

This city saw the afternoon temperature drop to a low 6 degrees for most of the day, but it seems that the locals here had fewer indoor options and a much higher spirit which motivated them to attend regardless of the bad weather. London 420 celebrations began with a small group of around 500 participants, and at its peak from 3pm-6pm had an estimated 4000 people taking in the sights and sounds of local entertainment, and several vendors.

Ottawa

Even 420 Ottawa which took place in the nation's capital, saw less than ideal weather conditions, but that didn’t dampen the motivation or spirits of almost 15000 participants who made their way to Parliament Hill to light up in celebration of the national marijuana holiday. Unfortunately, Ottawa had one of the largest, but also one of the shortest festivals of any other event in the country. It sported only a small handful of vendors, but a wide range of guest speakers including some more popular cannabis activists who kept the crowds cheering through 4:20.

Vancouver  

The Vancouver 420 festival took place in the west end of the province on the gorgeous Sunset beach. Featured were well over 400 vendors, 3 bands, 2 comedians, and several special speakers that were enjoyed by approximately 60 000 patrons throughout the evening. The number of attendees nearly doubled this year making Vancouver 420 the largest and most successful cannabis celebration in all of Canada.

Despite marijuana legalization leading many politicians and city officials to claim there is no longer a need for these events, leading many of them to side with the idea that they should also no longer be tolerated, there is real meaning to the numbers of this year’s attendees. It is important to recognize that 420 is no longer only a protest of marijuana use being legalized. For many, it is still a far too restricted substance that the majority of the country still has spotty at best access to. Decriminalization is a long way from the stronghold monopoly the government has chosen to maintain during the rolling out of the Cannabis Act. Even those who have no personal issue with current regulations crave a safe and judgement free place that they can partake in the very same privileges that alcohol drinkers are able to. The sheer strength of the statement from this year’s numbers shows both a distinct want and need for equality between how the substances are treated from marijuana consumers right across the country. Regardless of political clap back, it doesn’t look like Canada’s 420 festivals will be going anywhere anytime soon and those involved in cannabis culture are clearly set on changing things in terms of cannabis laws and regulation in the name of fairness and equality for everyone.  

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