VANCOUVER – Several shoulder-high mounds of black garbage bags on Vancouver’s Sunset Beach were all that remained Thursday after the city’s annual 4/20 cannabis rally.
A Park Board spokesman estimated it would take several hours to cart away the trash and sift through beach sand to ensure it was clear of broken glass or needles after Wednesday’s smoke-out protest.
Vancouver police Sgt. Randy Fincham confirmed crowd estimates at 25,000 and had a warning about possible fallout from the sale of edible products sold at the event.
“The concern for today is kids having taken products home yesterday, sharing them with friends who don’t know what is in them. We did have some incidents last year where unfortunately some of those young kids did consume a product that ended up requiring their hospital admission,” he said.
Vancouver Coastal Health said 16 patients were treated in hospital, all for minor ailments.
Fincham said paramedics and firefighters handled 31 calls at the scene.
Last year, health officials said that more than 60 people were treated in hospital for complaints of symptoms ranging from upset stomachs to acute anxiety and psychosis. Three-quarters of them had consumed edible marijuana products.
Officers observed juveniles buying marijuana, but Fincham said no arrests of either buyers or sellers were made, in part because of the large crowd.
“It’s a safety concern for us to weigh into a crowd of 25,000 people to make an arrest … when that could have a direct impact on anybody else in that area,” he said.
“It wasn’t feasible for officers to go into that crowd and necessarily focus on that.”
It was the first time the 4/20 event had been held at Sunset Beach, after the large numbers of revellers and construction outside the Vancouver Art Gallery uprooted the event from its usual downtown site.
Park Board Commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung said the unsanctioned, unlicensed celebration was not wanted and would not be welcomed back in 2017.