Despite being heralded as "stoner Christmas," 4/20 was far from a happy time for this marijuana enthusiast. Why? Well, when heading to Mount Royal for the annual celebration for all things cannabis, I realized something.
I'm ashamed to be a Montreal stoner.
Now, by some people's standards, I may not be a stoner. To others I could be considered a perma-fried junky. Regardless, I see myself as a something of a stoner, one who enjoys the culture, is knowledgeable about strands and products, and partakes in classic stoner activities like hacky-sack.
But after my most recent Montreal 4/20 experience, I'm seriously rethinking all that, namely because I no longer want to be associated with the stoner community of the city. And honestly, it's taken me a little while to process all the thoughts I've had since.
Allow me to explain.
When I think "stoner," I don't picture the image of some hippy-looking person sporting a poncho and an annoyingly-carefree perspective on life. Rather, there is a stoner-spectrum, because as with all interests and hobbies, enjoying marijuana doesn't need to overtake your entire personality and aesthetic.
Apparently that's not the case for a lot of Montreal stoners.
Venturing off into the hubbub of activity that was Mount Royal on 4/20, a particular style seemed to dominate the entire population of attendees. Next to everyone was dressed down, wearing clothes that had seen better days (and hadn't been washed in weeks, nor had their wearers) that exuded a street-tough vibe that was far from welcoming.
Basically, everyone looked like they were in some sort of super low budget white rapper music video, wearing the clothes they thought they needed to look "hood."
But really, I'm not judging these people off of their clothes. Rather, it was how everyone carried themselves that really made me feel out of place.
Loud, boisterous, and defiant of non-existent police officers (seriously, I heard people say "f*ck the police" even though there wasn't a single officer there), the folks at 4/20 all seemed like they were ready to beat someone up. That, or they had been raving all night and were so strung out they couldn't interact like normal human beings.
To put it plainly and use some slang, not a single person exuded any sort of chill vibes. The energy of the park was abrasive and rather unwelcoming to anyone who didn't fit the collective aesthetic; no diversity was found at 4/20, even though this was supposed to be an event that brought together marijuana enthusiasts from all walks of life.
I had hoped that, given the government's recent decision to move forward with the legalization of cannabis, at least some parts of the 4/20 celebration would be geared towards political activism or the dissemination of information.
After all, there are quite a few dissenters of the Trudeau government's plan to legalize marijuana, not to mention those who are simply ignorant of the benefits (and risks) of cannabis.
So my line of thinking was, since 4/20 is a popularized event centered on marijuana, the stoner community (or at least certain people) of Montreal would use the day to spread awareness and understanding to both users and those opposed to legalization.
That wasn't the case in the slightest. No aspect of the 4/20 celebration (that I could see) was geared towards activism or awareness. Instead, people were just yelling for no reason, showing off their giant blunts to anyone who would see, and basically looking like immature kids.
If anyone against the legalization of marijuana used 4/20 as an example of what society could become should the law change, they wouldn't be all that wrong with being worried.
No sense of purpose was instilled into the event, nor even the slightest sense of professionalism. And it's not as if people were just there to relax and enjoy a joint, those in attendance wanted to be as in-your-face and abrasive as possible.
Again, nothing was chill about it, and I quickly ditched the event for a far-more-pleasant walk up Mount Royal with my man instead.
Of course, those who actually went to Mount Royal for 4/20 are but a slice of the stoner community of Montreal. If anything, the fact that the event called for a 4:20pm meeting time negated the presence of anyone with a 9-to-5 job, not that any professional would really fit in.
And then there were the self-proclaimed stoner who simply didn't make it to the mountain. Whether they simply got high and thus too lazy will remain a mystery.
In truth, those who were at 4/20 were likely younger folks off of school, anti-establishment types who refuse a regular work schedule, and dealers trying to make a few easy bucks. So it shouldn't be much of a surprise that the overall vibe wasn't all that welcoming nor imbued with any sense of purpose or genial celebration.
But unfortunately, that doesn't exempt the "Montreal stoner" identity from such a negative characterization.
To a random Mount Royal passerby on 4/20, they would no doubt believe the entire stoner community behaves like those who attended the annual event. And, to reiterate, anyone who denounces marijuana would have had plenty to hate on during 4/20.
Maybe I'm being too critical, but it doesn't change the fact that I no longer want to be associated with a section of the Montreal community that unfortunately bears such poor representation. So no, don't call me a stoner.
Fortunately, in a city like Montreal where marijuana is enjoyed by a vast number of citizens, many of whom don't identify themselves as a "stoner," you won't be judged too harshly for partaking in cannabis products. In fact, many weed smokers are professionals and mature, well-to-do individuals with a solid head on their shoulders.
It would just be nice if we saw more of these types of cannabis-users represented as part of Montreal's stoner community, because if the people known to enjoy marijuana are negatively characterized, then marijuana itself will be seen as negative. And we can't have that.