4.21.2009

Thousands of marijuana smokers gather in Vancouver to celebrate "420"

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Thousands+marijuana+smokers+gather+Vancouver+celebrate/1515882/story.html
Marijuana smokers gather in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery on Monday to celebrate "420," which is dubbed National Pot Smoking Day.

VANCOUVER — Thousands of marijuana smokers gathered in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery on Monday to celebrate "420," which is dubbed National Pot Smoking Day.

"We're trying to stay upwind," joked Vancouver police Sgt. Jim Patenaude, who was watching with a number of other officers on bicycles as smoke clouds arose from the crowd.

He said police were mainly monitoring the situation for crowd control and public safety.

"We're just here to keep the peace," Patenaude explained.

"It would be totally inappropriate to jump in and arrest."

He estimated about 5,000 people, mainly in the 18 to 20 age range, had gathered by noon, with more expected as the time approached 4:20 p.m. on 4\20.

The significance of 420 is hazy but is believed to be code for smoking pot started by a group of students at a California high school who would meet at 4:20 each day, after detentions finished.

"My alarm on my phone goes off at 4:20 every day," said Jermaine Coe, 16, a Langley Secondary school student who attended the event with friends.

Julia Trudell, 18, who lives near Nanaimo, said she and a friend caught the 8:30 a.m. ferry to attend the 420 celebration.

"It's unbelievable," she said, smoking pot from a purple bong (pipe). "It almost feels fake, it's so unreal."

One booth set up on the plaza was selling snacks for stoners and $1 stickers that said: "Legalize, Regulate, Educate, Medicate."

"We promote cannabis as a wonderful medicine" said the booth's operator, who would only reveal his first name: Jim, 48.

"The only thing that's harming people is the prohibition of it," he said.

Source: vancouversun.com

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