Is 4/20 Vancouver a protest, or just a farmer’s market for marijuana?

Organizer dodge permit costs by insisting it’s not an event or festival 

Vancouver’s annual 4/20 rally has evolved into a giant farmer’s market for marijuana and attracts tens of thousands of people. So why don’t the organizers have to go through the city’s official permitting process?

According to a city spokesman, officials have repeatedly suggested that organizers obtain a special event permit to hold the gathering at the Vancouver Art Gallery, but to no avail. Despite the increasingly commercial flavour of the day, the rally is still considered a protest, and not an event.

The demonstration led to the closure of portions of Robson and Howe streets, causing traffic congestion throughout the downtown core, and was connected to dozens of emergency room visits. The VAG shut its doors for the day.

The lack of permits has been a “long-standing concern” for the Downtown Business Improvement Association, according to the group’s...

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