Vancouver’s pot activists have come a long way since Marc Emery opened his Hemp BC store in 2004. After years of high-profile arrests, closures, re-openings, and seeing Emery locked-up in a US federal prison- the city is now home to more medical marijuana dispensaries than BC Liquor stores.
It’s common knowledge that the majority of pot bought from “medical” dispensaries is used for recreation- despite this, the City of Vancouver recently made the controversial decision to legitimize dispensaries with a new licensing program. The new regulations, virulently opposed by the federal government, require a $30,000 licensing fee and require outlets to be no closer than 300 meters to schools, community centres, and other dispensaries.
While 2015 has been a victorious year for marijuana activists, their protests have been less successful. Their annual 4/20 protest in March attracted over 30,000 people, cost $52,000 for policing, and resulted in 64 people being sent to the hospital. Concerned about a replay, the city asked activists to hold-back on their Canada Day event. Thumbing their noses, the activists ignored the city’s request and held it regardless. Their insolence turned into a national embarrassment after a damning video was released of a gang of the event’s participants fighting with the police- four people were arrested, including three high-profile pot activists.
The video clearly shows pot activists Bert Easterbrook and David Malmo-Levine in a rumble with the police trying to prevent them from arresting fellow activist Neil Magnuson, who was being arrested after allegedly selling marijuana to minors. Event organizer Jodie Emery blamed the city for the violence, claiming that there were no similar problems over the past 20 years.
In the aftermath of the violence the pot protesters claimed they were arrested for “hugging”, ignoring the fact the person they were protecting was in the process of being arrested. Dispensary owner Malmo-Levine told the Brandon Sun he tried to use his “hug power” technique “trying to stop the arrest of a harmless individual.
This afternoon the pot activists plan to return to the Vancouver Art Gallery for a new protest. Easterbrook, who was awarded a police award after using vigilante violence against people trying to destroy a truck during the 2011 Stanley Cup Riot has announced he’s going to publicly burn his certificate. Magnuson, who blamed the police on trying to incite a riot, had claimed “I’m sure we’ll burn some cannabis in protest too”.
Wednesday’s protesters plan another event this afternoon. Easterbrook has posted his intention to try and justify the pot activist’s attempt to “de-arrest” Magnuson by claiming they were battling for the rights of minors to have “unrestricted access” to cannabis products”. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C has stated concerns about marijuana being prescribed to people under 25.
But in Easterbrook’s world, not only should kids be allowed unrestricted access to marijuana, but so should people’s pets:
Most reasonable people would be inclined to apologize after Wednesday’s violence, they’ve instead gone full-throttle ignoring their responsibility for the incident. Vancouver’s pot activists have been wildly successful getting the city on their side. But now that the job is nearly done, has their movement finally reached it’s sell-by date? All they appear to be accomplishing now is destroying their movement’s reputation….