VANCOUVER Police said on Wednesday that four people were arrested when police tried to stop a man from selling drugs to young people at the Cannabis Day protest at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Investigators are expected to recommend charges against all four of them.
Police said they had been talking with organizers and protesters throughout the morning to encourage a peaceful and safe event for everyone including those headed to unrelated nearby sanctioned and family-oriented Canada Day events.
Those discussions included police concerns over the many individuals sent to hospital at this event last year and the earlier 4/20 marijuana protest in April.
Discussions with organizers this Wednesday morning echoed earlier concerns and police specifically informed them that the open selling or giving away of illegal items to young people could result in arrest. Police urged organizers to keep public safety in mind and that it will be the top priority for police.
When Vancouver Police observed someone overtly selling marijuana, including to young people, officers asked him to stop and warned that it may lead to him being arrested. He refused and told police he intended to openly sell to anyone despite police requests and warnings.
The man was arrested and officers were immediately confronted and swarmed. Police were required to pepper spray at least one person to complete the arrest.
“The safety of everyone is always our priority” said Constable Brian Montague. That includes the safety of the public, police, and protesters. “It is unfortunate there are some at this unsanctioned Cannabis Day event who do not feel that way.”
Two men remain in police custody. One faces potential trafficking charges, the other faces a charge of obstruction.
Police are continuing to monitor the event that has now spilled into the streets and is blocking some major downtown arterial routes.