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O, Cannabis! Three 420-Friendly Canada Day Celebrations

On July 1, Canadians will mark not only the country's 149th birthday - but also the first Canada Day since the federal Liberals announced plans to legalize marijuana next spring. With that kind of sweeping social change on the immediate horizon, you can bet this year's celebrations will be extra 420-friendly.

But where's the best place to ring in the Glorious First? While the most marijuana-friendly Canada Day action will likely be British Columbia, famed for superlative bud, that doesn't mean those elsewhere won't be having fun. Wherever you decide to celebrate, exercise your common sense: Just because the Prime Minister's cool with it doesn't mean the police are - yet.

1. Vancouver, British Columbia

Celebration of Lights, fireworks display at English Bay, Vancouver, BCLijuan Guo /

Held every year outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, "Cannabis Day has grown from a small gathering of enthusiastic potheads in the 1970s, into a full-fledged marijuana festival and open Cannabis Farmers Market," writes David Malmo-Levine on the event's website. The M.O. for Cannabis Day is both political,and social - "smokin', jokin', and a little provokin'", as one newspaper put it a few years back. Huge crowds assemble at 750 Hornby Street for speeches, music and a "smoke-in" on the gallery steps: last year, however, organizers were strong-armed by the city to ban vendor booths and a larger stage. Whatever the attendance this year, it's bound to be a colorful, inspiring, and smoky time. Plus, given Cannabis Day has been happening for over 20 years, it might be the most established event of its kind in the Great White North.

2. Nelson, British Columbia

Jasperdo /

Nelson might be a relatively tiny town in the Kootenay mountains, but it's also a mecca for hippies, artists, and marijuana aficionados. Although some sites devoted to marijuana tourism claim that marijuana is "virtually legal" in Nelson, police chief Wayne Holland begs to differ. But he is reasonable about making arrests. He tells the Nelson Star immediate enforcement is only applied when there is "blatantly egregious conduct," a connection to organized crime, or a chronic offender. "Discretion is something our officers rely on and exercise very wisely, given the 'pro-usage' attitudes on marijuana that are especially prevalent in Nelson and the Kootenay region." OK, now that that's out of the way: Nelson's Canada Day celebration is quite a thing to behold, with musicians parading down Baker Street into Lakeside Park, yoga and meditation, dancing, public art, and fireworks, sandcastle-building competition, and cake. Which is good, because given the aforementioned "pro-usage" attitudes, you're gonna have the munchies. Big time.

3. Halifax, Nova Scotia

HALIFAX, CANADA - Tens of thousands of people visited the waterfront to partake in the Tall Ships eventPaul Mckinnon /

Yes, we know British Columbia has, arguably, the most bona fide international reputation for its marijuana; however, the residents of this tiny Maritime province actually outstrip the rest of Canada when it comes to marijuana consumption (although British Columbia does rank a close second) . According to 2013 numbers from Statistics Canada, a whopping 14.8 percent - that's 115,285 people out of the population of 942,926 - admit to lighting up within the past year. Thus, while we can't speak to the enforcement side of things at Halifax's annual Canada Day celebrations at Citadel Hill, it's safe bet to say cannabis will be part of the festivities - which, for the home of the Trailer Park Boys, makes a lot of sense.

h/t Nelson Star.

Banner image: Sergei Bachlakov /


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