420 Toronto 2018

Toronto's annual 420 event plans to go on without a permit

The organizers behind one of Toronto's longest-running celebrations in support of legal marijuana say they'll be out in front of City Hall as planned on April 20th this year, even though they were denied an event permit. Twice.

420 Toronto expects to have live music, food trucks, speakers and vendors of all kinds at Nathan Phillips Square tomorrow as part of its annual event, which has been running for the past 11 years at Yonge-Dundas Square.

Organizer Chris Goodwin says that crowds attending the celebrations have grown too big for Yonge-Dundas, which is why the event was moved to Nathan Phillips Square for 2018.

This switch didn't quite go off as planned, however, given that the city has been reluctant to issue them a permit – meaning that sponsors, security and insurance are all out of the question.

"If we get denied a permit, we will still be holding 420 Toronto, but without electricity, or the support of the city, and all spaces will be free," wrote Goodwin on Facebook last month, warning attendees that the permit was still under review.

The next day, he shared an official rejection notice from the city's department of economic development and culture.

"Current City By- Laws prohibit smoking on City of Toronto Public Squares, including Nathan Phillips Square and in front of Municipal Buildings entrances like City Hall." read that email, linking to relevant by-law information.

"Further, at the time of your event current Federal Cannabis Laws will still be in effect and Cannabis is still listed as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act."

The group appealed that rejection, but was ultimately still denied permission to host an event.

Despite this, organizers say that 420 Toronto 2018 is going ahead at Nathan Phillips Square.

"Even though we don't have a permit, like Global Marijuana March at Queens Park, we encourage you to set up tents, tables, as early as possible at City Hall," reads a Facebook post on the group's page. "We will try and have a sound system on stage with a generator. Hopefully we have good weather."

Being that this is the last April 20th before marijuana becomes legal in Canada, advocates are gung-ho on going full steam (or full smoke, as it may be) on this most-hallowed of cannabis holidays.

"Sooooooooooo we're smoking out the square without a permit..." wrote one attendee on Facebook. "Grassroots AF."

Neither Toronto Police Services nor the City of Toronto have responded to a request for comment.

Lead photo by

Christian Bobak


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