Updated: Apr 22, 2019
April 20th has been a symbolic date for most people who have any relationship with cannabis.
Some of us have watched the news, some of us have talked about issues of legalization with friends, family and co-workers, some of us have stood on Parliament Hill, and some of us have just smoked our faces off. Whether it's something you observe from afar, a cause very close to your heart, or something in between, 420 has been an undeniable rallying point around the ongoing progress we are making as a society and as a nation.
Is it still?
During one of our round table chats, we asked each of our Cannabis Curation Committee members to reflect upon the meaning of 420 this year, an auspicious one for obvious reasons. It's interesting to see the patterns and recurring themes that may be indicative of how many Canadians are feeling. Read their thoughts below, and as always, we invite you to let us know yours.
Does 420 still matter? Of course it still matters. Why? Because the stigma still exists, the stereotypes still exist, and as a culture we haven’t actually accepted cannabis as a lifestyle. Until that happens, 420 is important both from a change perspective and a cultural perspective.
So yes, we should still be celebrating. There is so much shit in this world and we need to celebrate the good things in this life. It’s also an opportunity to start a conversation, to engage with people, to actually approach people with curiosity and say, "Help me understand some of
your perspectives that have led to your desire to be against cannabis."
We need to be loud and proud and we need to spread the gospel and I think 420 is the perfect opportunity and the question is if not now, when?
Also, a shoutout to NORML which is the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and the campaign for Cannabis Amnesty. Both of them are great organizations that I encourage everyone to explore volunteering with. The campaign for cannabis amnesty is not pushing for pardons, they are pushing for expungements – huge difference – very important for all of us to know the difference. Pardons are still associated with a lot of legal complications. Expungements are what’s required for people to actually get a fresh start – to have their cannabis convictions fully removed from the record.
420 is a culture of people that were willing to stand up for truth when truth wasn’t the most popular answer. Even though it’s been legalized I still think getting together to celebrate is important. I think there are a lot of people that were in the trenches when it was not not legal – you could be getting into a lot of trouble for doing that kind of stuff – and I think we should celebrate the culture of bringing forth truth. To me that’s what 420 continues to represent.
This 420 I’m going to be doing a comedy show at an event. It’s really cool, it’s a cannabis community in Calgary, and these people have been getting together as legalization has been coming around, keeping each other informed. They brought me in as a poet last time. I wrote a poem about terpenes, and this time I’m going to be doing comedy. It’s really fun talking about my favourite thing, cannabis, through comedy.
I go by Kayla – that’s my government name. My real name is Kween – it’s just like 420. 420 is something the cannabis community created. It’s ours, we own it. October 17th is just a date that Justin Trudeau decided on. So although that is really important because legalization actually came into play, for years we’ve been celebrating and advocating for the people on 420. Plus it’s way nicer out, nobody wants to smoke weed in the snow. We’ll smoke on 420. It’s really important that we still have that urge, just like Tamara said, we have to keep advocating because we still have massive stigma around it and
until that can happen, I think we should continue to smoke up.
We have the power of social media now. As a personal entity, there is a lot you can say and speak out about. I don’t think much is going to change this year. We’re not there yet, there’s still too much stigma, too much to fight for. We continue those campaigns, fight for people’s rights. I think it’s important that we just keep spreading the news, these blogs, these video posts, etc.
It’s a celebration for sure because we have come along way, but also I want us to remember that a lot of people still have criminal records who really don’t deserve to, and if there’s anything to protest at this time, I think it would be getting people exonerated. I’m just talking about minor stuff too, really stupid stuff that ruined a person's life for something that others had been fortunate enough to do and just not get busted. I think it’s a bit of a celebration, but we’re not all the way there yet and that’s basically what 420 means to me.
It’s been a long time since I went out to any great big rallies. That would be back when I was in Toronto. Of course, here I’m many, many miles from any large groups of people. So yeah, I’ll be out on my back deck with a vapourizer, some high potency sativa, drawing cartoons and barbequing.
I have a few things that I’d like to highlight. From a legal perspective, I think the conversations may be shifting to how exactly we are advocating for simple cannabis possession, and from a community perspective, I think that at these rallies, and just in friend circles, we’re going to find a lot of people are discussing quality and availability. From a business perspective – here comes Kyle the capitalist – there is a huge surge in sales around 420 and I think that’s great to embrace because it really normalizes the industry and when we are talking about access it demonstrates how important that becomes.
Personally, I’m going to have a self-curated cannabis session to go with some wine touring.
Even though cannabis is legalized here in Canada, I think we should still fight for all the other countries all around the world that don’t have it and are still being penalized for it. We can celebrate this as a victory, that we won our legalization here in Canada, but I think we should still go out and normalize it.
I mean there were so many interviews I was doing with the media where I was stereotyped as a “super cool stoner” and I was being asked questions about doritos and sitting on the couch, which is fine, not saying anything against it, but there is just
so much more to this plant that we are not even touching on as a society.
Over the weekend I signed a petition with Pardon and Cannabis Amnesty to pardon over 500,000 Canadians who still are impacted by cannabis-related crimes. The way that 420 is changing for me this year is that instead of being a protestor and a rallier, now I want to shift to being an advocate and try to bring attention to the fact that there are still people who are suffering as a result of simply possessing cannabis. Now we can have 30 grams, which was unheard of before. So that’s my 420 plan: I’m going to go out and advocate.
I think that in many, many ways, it’s more important that it was before. I think before, protesting on 420 was a bit of a pipedream – no one thought we’d ever get it legalized,and it felt like a good excuse to get to rebel.
Myself, even though I live in Vancouver where 420 is a very big deal, it’s been a long time since I’ve been out at any parties with 3000 of my closest friends. This year they expect 100,000 people in downtown Vancouver, which is actually quite small and contained. I’m actually considering going this year, to try and connect with people.
Now that we have a little bit of a light on this plant medicine, as soon as we have rights we very quickly have to start talking about responsibility. What is our responsibility as cannabis consumers and as cannabis educators to be able to reduce that stigma?
Unfortunately 420 is a really big party where a park in Vancouver is most likely going to be destroyed. Now the good thing is that the 420 organizers paid over $60,000 dollars to the city last year to repair damage to that park. So they are doing a very good job of trying to do positive things with the message, and yet we do have fair grounds that would be much better suited to handle that many people. As far as I understand, the city is still not willing to give them a permit to use that space and I don’t know for sure if that’s true or where the whole nonsense comes in, but I do know that the gathering is more important than ever before.
What am I doing on the day? I am going to have to wait and see. I have an opportunity to be in an overnight of plant medicine ceremony so I’m trying to decide how much I want to be in a crowd of 100,000 people to try and immerse myself and see where the stigma is at and where the people of Vancouver are at vs enjoying my own ceremony with 8-10 people. I’m excited to see what's going to happen here in Vancouver.
Even if I don’t personally talk much about rallies and advocacy, I have a lot of friends who are advocating for the cause. We should celebrate the people who are advocating for the cannabis plant. They are basically like the warriors of the cause, you know? Once in my life I was in enough trouble that I could have lost everything that I was building in terms of growing cannabis, but I pushed ahead knowing that I would personally touch more people by helping with growing than I would by going to rallies with a sign and a huge joint.
I have much respect for all you guys because it’s not everyone who would put so much on the line. There's a whole stigma that goes with advocating. You can lose some part of your personal life to it, you know, so it’s a job that I really respect a lot. I’m doing my part more from the background, the growing aspect, trying to help advance the art of cultivation.
Here in Quebec, although it’s a pretty conservative province, there is always a big event in Montreal on 420. Not dealing very well with social anxiety, normally I don’t get into those events even in Toronto, where I have a lot of friends who want to rally and do the whole thing. But I really enjoy celebrating with friends. For me it's a national day for the smokers, the users, the growers, everyone in contact with the plant. From everything that people said here, everyone is helping every day of the year to propagate the benefits, all the ways of growing the plant, all the ways of using the plant, and it sends the message that the plant makes humans want to help each other within that concept.
I normally celebrate this with friends because it’s a day of the year when I can open a jar and say “let’s enjoy this” and see the bottom of that jar, how fast it can go down, right? My close friends and family have maple farms so we'll get together and have a sugar on snow day. We'll be eating a lot of bacon, eggs, beans, maple syrup, taffy butter, and enjoying all the good sweet things of cabin life.
Happy 420 everyone, however you end up spending the day!