News / Winnipeg

High spirits may change tone of Winnipeg's 4/20 event: 'Things are actually changing'

The organizer of Winnipeg's annual 420 event believes legalization talks should yield a 'more motivated tone' this year, and a more diverse crowd.

A person rolls a joint.

Metro file photo

A person rolls a joint.

Like clockwork, buds burn on April 20—but in light of the federal government’s marijuana legalization plans, the organizer of Winnipeg’s 4/20 event says the tone has changed.

“For the longest time, cannabis-related events were protests—especially 4/20—that had kind of hit a stalemate,” said local cannabis advocate Steven Stairs. “We show up once a year, (authorities) let us do this, and we’re probably showing up next year because nothing’s changing….

“Well, this year things are actually changing.”

Whereas Stairs and others are normally calling for action on 4/20, he said there’s “already something to look forward to” now for advocates, patients and curious Canadians alike.

“There’s less futility… but I never thought it was futile anyways, because look where we got,” he said, noting both federal legalization plans and early provincial regulatory discussions are well underway.

“This year’s event has a really big opportunity to take a hold of the movement that’s going forward.”

One thing that won’t change is what Stairs calls the “fundamental basis” of the cannabis movement: education.

Now more than ever, Stairs said 4/20 events are a good place for people who want to learn what recreational and medical users know about marijuana, its many uses, the culture, or the industry.

“It (4/20) is the best opportunity to learn,” Stairs said, adding that as cannabis moves closer to being legalized, everything people wanted to know but were too afraid to ask is suddenly less tabboo. 

He expects a recent uptick in cannabis-related dialogue spurred on by legalization talk on Parliament Hill will result in a “large portion of all parts of society” participating in or stopping by 4/20 events like the one he’s hosting on Broadway and the legislature grounds.

“I really think you’ll see a burgeoning of a new cannabis demographic that isn’t really new, but is coming out of the shadows more, where it is everyday people – your lawyer, doctor, pharmacist” he said. “Maybe a few more of those people wearing suits working on Broadway will wander over.”

Winnipeg’s 4/20 event Tuesday, which starts at noon, will have upwards of 20 vendor booths including Delta 9 Biotech (Manitoba’s Health Canada-compliant cannabis producer) dispensaries, and food trucks, along Broadway.

Stairs said the “progress ahead” should yield a “more motivated tone,” and his hope is that as many people ride that high as possible.

“Everyone’s welcome.”

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