Thousands of people are expected to light up joints outside the Vancouver Art Gallery this Sunday, and while they get high, police will be laying low — such is the tolerance for pot use in the city.
On April 20, better known as 420, pot smokers in Vancouver will celebrate their lifestyle in public, leaving some visitors to the city amazed at our acceptance of an activity that would land them in jail at home.
Julio Ribeiro, 18, a student from Brazil, said Vancouver is perceived abroad as having soft marijuana laws, unlike his country where police don’t tolerate smoking up.
Danni Mora, 18, from Mexico, said she’d never smelled pot until arriving in Vancouver.
“I was walking with friends and asked, ‘What is that smell?’ They all laughed and said, ‘It’s marijuana.’ ”
Katrin Clemens, 25, from Brazil, said it’s curious that Vancouver police are lax about smoking up but crack down on public drinking.
“In Brazil you can drink on the street but you can’t smoke a joint or you’ll get arrested,” she said.
Vancouver police spokesman Tim Fanning said cracking down on pot smokers isn’t a priority.
“We’ve got a lot of other crime to focus on,” he said. “We focus on drugs further up the chain (and) importing, cultivating and trafficking.”
Vancouver’s prince of pot, Marc Emery, who’s facing up to 10 years in a U.S. prison for selling seeds to Americans over the Internet, said he’ll be at the Art Gallery on Sunday.
“I’ll be smoking a lot,” he said.
With files from Rafe Arnott