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Vancouver’s annual 4/20 event cancelled in the wake of COVID-19

Photo credit: Gras Grun via Unsplash

Today (March 12), the COVID-19 event axe dropped on Vancouver’s annual 4/20 farmer’s market and protest. Earlier this afternoon, the B.C. government announced a ban on any public gathering with an attendance of more than 250 people. Considering last year’s free-the-weed festivities drew over 150,000 potential viral incubators, organizers had no choice but to pull the plug.

“We have to do our best to slow transmissions here in British Columbia,” Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, told reporters during a briefing.

The Province's decision comes on the heels of a similar ban enforced across Alberta, which mandates that no public gatherings over the same number occur as contraction rates grow globally. In B.C., with 53 confirmed cases and one death, it was only a matter of time before the government mimicked the tactic aimed at slowing the speed of the contagion.

“It is with great sadness that we must announce the cancellation of 4/20 Vancouver 2020, due to health concerns regarding the COVID-19 virus,” write organizers in a release.

Event organizers have carried on in past years despite political threats, exorbitant fines, a heavy police presence, and a handful of arrests—always citing it in the best interest of the community to continually protest prohibitive cannabis regulations. Ceding to a viral pandemic, they say, is also in the best interest of the public.

“Though 4/20 is a protest, it is not a protest against health officials, and it makes sense to help them protect the public from the outbreak of an infectious virus.”

Vendors will be refunded for booth fees and organizers say Cannabis Day festivities are still set to take place on July 1 in Thornton Park.

The cancellation is the latest amidst numerous event postponements across the international cannabis community, all heeding the recommendations of health officials discouraging public interaction.

The status of the outbreak was increased to a global pandemic on Wednesday (March 10) by the World Health Organization (WHO). There are nearly 130,000 confirmed cases worldwide—138 in Canada—and several countries have taken action through border closures and travel bans.