The City of Vaughan passed a bylaw that disallows people to smoke recreational cannabis in a public place, so the Journey Cannabis & Music Festival has to cancel its event planned for August.
“We are disappointed by the decision of Vaughan City Council to restrict recreational consumption of cannabis at a private event,” says Murray Milthorpe, chief experience officer of Journey Cannabis & Music Festival. “Journey was about combatting the illegal market and disrupting the stigma of cannabis through a three-day journey of education, celebration, and conservation.”
No Advance Warning Supplied
“Policymakers in Canada should welcome all efforts by multi-stake holder groups to educate Canadians about the legal vs illegal market, the health and safety aspects of consuming cannabis, and the dangers of substance abuse,” said Milthorpe. “Sadly, Vaughan City Council is on the wrong side of history here.”
Journey had a signed contract with The Toronto Region Conservation Authority and Boyd Conservation Park. However, on May 14, 2019, Vaughan council passed a new Smoking By-law – No. 074-2019. Under this By-law, persons are only permitted to smoke cannabis in a public place if the cannabis is medicinal and the individual has the required medical documentation.
“At no time during our meetings with the City of Vaughan, York Regional Police, Public Health officials and Alcohol and Gaming representatives did anyone advise us that they were installing a by-law of this nature” reports Milthorpe.
“We had no advance warning this by-law was in the works. We provided senior city officials the opportunity to review our press release prior to launch as requested,” explains Milthorpe. “We never received a response. Instead the city’s public relations department reached out to our media partners to suggest that Journey hadn’t submitted its special events permit—a process that the city was simultaneously working with us directly on to submit. At no point did the city properly convey its intentions or communicate them to us (except through the media).”
Journey Thanks Canadians
From Kingston to Vancouver, Canadians purchased tickets for Canada’s first cannabis and music festival. “We are overwhelmed with the positive support we received from Canadians and numerous organizations across the country who believed in the purpose and value of this event,” says Milthorpe. People who purchased tickets will be refunded their entire ticket price in the next week.
Journey intends to send an important message to politicians that cannabis is legal. Education, including how to talk to our children about substance use, should not be politicized for partisan gain. Vaughan’s by-law is all about self-preservation and status quo thinking and is a stigmatizing action that hurts the legal market. Journey will continue to fight the stigma and support the legal market in Canada.
Journey organizers are currently working to secure a new event venue for 2020 and will announce the site in the coming months. For Journey, the mission to fight the stigma of cannabis has just begun.
Meanwhile, the Journey “Cannabus” will be touring the country to promote the We-ed Talks speaker series and connect people with the information and knowledge they need to make informed decisions about cannabis use.
Have your Voice Heard – Speak Up
Have your voice heard by visiting www.journeyfestival.ca and submit your name to tell policymakers that education on the health and safety of recreational cannabis use is important for all Canadians including parents and children.