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Cannabis-themed music festival in Toronto cancelled

The first music festival in Canada to (legally) celebrate all things weed is over before it began, thanks to a surprise bylaw change from the city of Vaughan.

Journey Cannabis and Music Festival, originally scheduled to take place at the 990-acre Boyd Conservation Park from August 23 to 35, was billed as "a festival to celebrate legalization" with music, art installations, food, beer and a speaker series.

An educational "cannabis village" was planned for the event, though Journey's organizers made it clear that weed wouldn't be sold on festival grounds.

"Journey Festival is strictly BYOC (Bring Your Own Cannabis)," reads an FAQ section on the festival's website. "We recommend you purchase your cannabis prior to the festival safely and legally online from the Ontario Cannabis Store or from a licensed retailer."

Aside from speaker Gary Vaynerchuk, no acts had yet been confirmed. Not that it matters now.

Festival organizers announced last weekend that the City of Vaughan, where Boyd Park can be found, had "stopped Canada's first cannabis and music festival dead in its tracks by passing a by-law designed to remove it from the summer calendar."

Journey explained that it had already signed a contract with the The Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) to use Boyd Park when Vaughan city council passed a new smoking bylaw.

The law states that people may only smoke cannabis in public places around Vaughan — including parks — for medicinal reasons, with proper medical documentation.

"We are saddened by the decision of Vaughan councillors to restrict recreational consumption of cannabis at a private event," said organizer Murray Milthorpe in a press release announcing the cancellation.

"Journey was about combating the illegal market and disrupting the stigma of cannabis through a three-day journey of celebration, conservation and education," he continued. "Sadly, Vaughan City Council is on the wrong side of history here."

Milthorpe also took up issue with how the city, just north of Toronto, communicated with festival organizers.

"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 putting in a bylaw of this nature" said Milthorpe.

"We provided senior city officials the opportunity to review our press release prior to launch as they requested," he continued. "We never received a response."

Without a venue lined up, the festival can't take place this summer during Woodstock's 50th anniversary as planned. Organizers do seem intent, however, on making it work next year and say they'll announce details regarding 2020's Journey Festival "in the coming months."

Lead photo by

Journey Festival

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