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MEDICINE MATTERS: Vancouver civic officials admit concerns over 4/20 but say there’s little to do

My story last week about an increase in the number of calls to Poison Control on the annual 4/20 event in downtown Vancouver was meant to include a response from the City of Vancouver. But it came only today from Ellie Lambert, the communications manager.

I’m posting it below because it’s basically an admission that, except for police, fire and ambulance presence at the event that draws crowds estimated at up to 100,000, the City takes a hands-off approach to the event.

Today, my colleague Randy Shore reports in this story that American research is showing fatal accidents spike around 4/20 events. It is clearly not an innocuous event. Just like those where people get drunk and do dumb, dangerous things.

The next 4/20 is just a month and a half away so after reading the comments below, feel free to let us know if you think there’s more the City could/should be doing to protect the health and safety interests of 4/20 attendees and all others. Here are the comments from Lambert:

“The risks associated with consumption of edible cannabis products, as outlined in the BCMJ study, represent a significant concern for the City. In the case of medical marijuana retail operations, the City’s licensing framework prohibits the sale of edibles. We understand that prohibition is consistent with pending changes in cannabis regulation at the federal level.

With respect to the 4/20 event, our foremost concern is for the safety of individuals attending the event and the general public. We echo the concerns of Vancouver Coastal Health in telling people its buyer beware. People should avoid edible products which are more likely to result in poisonings.

The event is not sanctioned by the City or Park Board and is conducted without permits. Concerns regarding the distribution and consumption of edibles have been conveyed to the event organizers, however, given the unsanctioned nature of the event, the City has limited capacity to impose conditions on organizers or attendees. The number of participants also presents a practical challenge to enforcement of Park Board or City bylaws.

We work closely with the Vancouver Police Department, Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services and BC Emergency Health Services in managing the impacts of the event. However, given the size of the event, our focus in planning and allocating resources to address public safety has been on crowd management, emergency medical response and public order, rather than by-law enforcement.”

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