A first-timer’s guide to cannabis events

So, you’ve come of legal age, bucked up the gut, or gotten a little curious—whatever it is, you’re going to

Mariana Topfstedt / Getty Images


So, you’ve come of legal age, bucked up the gut, or gotten a little curious—whatever it is, you’re going to this year’s annual 4/20 farmers market and protest at Sunset Beach Park for the first time.

It’s going to be a big year. There are celebrity musical headliners, the sun is set to shine, and it’s the first of its kind since the country legalized adult-use cannabis last year. Here are a few tips to ensure your first 4/20 is both memorable and safe:

Sesh circle manners

Puff, puff, pass isn’t just a catchy weed alliteration—it’s a generally accepted custom used when socially consuming cannabis. Here’s how it works: when the joint makes its way to you in the circle, take two tokes (“drags”), then pass it along. This way, no one gets stuck looking longingly at the individual bogarting the bud, and no one lets an ember die because they’re talking with the group’s joint in their hand.

Always pass the dutchie to the left. There are mixed origin stories regarding this rule. Some say it emulates the Earth’s rotation (from the observer’s perceived orientation), others attribute its origins to the 1981 song “Pass the Kutchie” by Jamaican band Mighty Diamonds. Frankly, it just helps to avoid any confusion, which can be especially useful when multiple joints are going around at once.

Leave the lip stuff at home. They say “sharing is caring”, but no one wants your secondhand lipstick. Lip chap, gloss, or stick should not be applied when you’re sharing a joint with friends. It gums up the tip of a joint and it’s also just kind of gross.

Properly dispose of your garbage

Every year, a great deal of effort goes into making 4/20 happen to the backdrop of the picturesque Sunset Beach Park. And every year city officials complain that the “stoners” trash the park. It is important to the future of the event that organizers leave the grounds as clean—or better—as they found it. So, they ship in trash receptacles, volunteers maintain the grounds during the day, and a teams stay behind to tidy. This year, Weeds, a local cannabis dispensary chain, has sponsored the ‘Green Team’ to clean up after festivities die down. While measures are already taken to ensure the park stays pristine, do your part and ditch your roaches, infused edibles wrappers, and water bottles in a bin.

Consume within your limit

It can be very easy to get swept up in the excitement of 4/20. Thousands of people come together to do one thing: smoke weed. It can be tempting to keep up with the crowd, especially when 4:20 p.m. hits and the entire park is engulfed in a community-fuelled cloud of pot. If you have a high tolerance, this may not be a concern. If you don’t, make sure you set a comfortable limit for yourself at the beginning of the day. Consider bringing your own supply—a specific number of joints—as to regulate your intake. If at any point you find you’ve consumed beyond your limit, there is an official “green out” tent with volunteers on standby with water, food, and a shaded place for you to rest off the discomfort. First responders will also be close by to mitigate any adverse reactions.

Be your own advocate

As 4/20 is host to a thriving farmers market, populated by craft cultivators and extractors to infused-edibles chefs. This means there are plenty of products for sale throughout the day. If you decide to shop, use your voice. Don’t be shy when asking questions about things like ingredients, dosing, and preparation. A great place to start is: “What is your recommended dosage for my consumption experience?” It also helps to explain the kind of experience you’re looking for, like: “I am looking for something to help manage blank”. Many of these vendors are used to the weed-event circuit and will be more than happy to explain their product to a curious customer. Be open minded, ask lots of questions, and don’t consume anything you don’t feel has been crafted under safe conditions.

Have an exit strategy

Before you even get to Sunset Beach, spend some time thinking about your route home or to your next destination. It will be incredibly difficult to drive into the surrounding neighbourhood considering a number of roads will be sectioned off, increasing traffic congestion throughout English Bay. The Vancouver police have also warned drivers there will be increased road checks in the city tomorrow and those consuming should not operate a vehicle while intoxicated. Consider securing or planning a ride, taking public transit, or having funds aside for cab fare. This can be a complicated process when you’re high, so do yourself a favour and plan ahead.

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