The 12th annual 420 Toronto was almost like a time hop. As we near the summer awaiting the promised legislation and legalization of cannabis in Canada, one would have thought this year would be a showcase of the freedom possibly won by the years of activism put forth by the Canadian cannabis community. Instead the event was denied a permit. This however did not stop thousands upon thousands of people who showed up to toke and wave their cannabis flags in what turned into more a demonstration of defiance than a celebration of legalization. A time hop back to the not so distant past of prohibition.
In past years the organizers, Chris & Erin Goodwin, have managed to secure permits for the Yonge & Dundas square venue. Which was always rolled tight & right (like a nice joint). Year after year it improved and grew with booth setups, stage entertainment, big sponsors and vendors and plenty of happy high attendees. However, in recent years the square synonymous with the annual smoke out on Yonge Street become too small a venue. The organizers turned their sights on the much larger plot in front of city hall.
The Smokers Guide crew has attended 420 in Toronto for many years and we’ve always found everything you’d want and expect at a cannabis event. Namely the great entertainment, quality vendors, giveaways of great swag, as well as copious amounts of ganja! It felt somewhat like a farmer’s market with top quality buds sold by the ounce, extracts, edibles and even pre-rolled joints for those who can’t or don’t want to roll their own.
Yet this year things started a little differently. At around 9am as we peered out our hotel room window and down to the square we could see all the picnic tables had been removed, the stage had been barricaded and was being guarded by security. In front of the barricaded stage were Erin & Chris Goodwin, holding the now well known Cannabian flags. Half a dozen police on bikes were grouped around them, with more arriving by the minute.
As the crowd was building as the morning became noon, attempts of vendors to set up shop were immediately shut down by police. Yet no one was arrested and most of the police officers were actually very tolerant and understanding during discussions with Chris. He stood his ground, agreeing to requests not to allow selling of anything cannabis related, to not use generators, and to keep the decibel levels of the PA system at a reasonable level. Despite the Mayors attempt to shut the whole show down, the square continued to fill up.
By 4pm, the square was packed shoulder to shoulder full, reminiscent of past years at Y&D Square but reportedly ten times larger. At 4:19pm the Countdown began, and at 4:20 the crowd roared and cheered as thousands of joints were lit up. Within seconds the entire square was a cloud. The same scene appeared across the world; thousands of people peacefully consuming cannabis despite it being illegal. If 420 events show one thing its that people will consume cannabis whether it is legal or illegal. If governments don’t like thousands of people smoking joints in protest of the law they need to change that law. Either way every April 20th the cannabis community will gather together to celebrate this amazing plant.