Thu, Apr 22, 2010 - Page 7 News List

Pot smokers get high on 420 holiday

AP , OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA

The haze of marijuana smoke looms over a crowd of thousands at 4:20pm on Tuesday at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado. April 20th has become a de facto holiday for marijuana advocates, with large gatherings and “smoke outs” in many parts of the US.
WARNING: SMOKING CAN DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH.

PHOTO: AFP

Stoked by advancing legalization efforts, marijuana smokers across the US lit up in public parks, outside statehouses and in the posh confines of a Hummer parked outside a pot gardening superstore to observe the movement’s annual high holiday.

Those who weren’t within whiffing distance of a college campus or a reggae concert may not have realized Tuesday was 4/20, the celebration-cum-mass civil disobedience derived from “420” — insider shorthand for cannabis consumption.

Advocates from New Hampshire to California trumpeted marijuana’s rising commercial and political acceptance while producing collective clouds of pungent smoke — often under the watchful eyes of law enforcement officers who for the most part let the parties proceed.

A daylong rally in Denver’s Civil Center Park drew thousands of people, as did the public smoking event that persisted at the University of Colorado in Boulder despite discouragement from college administrators.

Colorado lawmakers coincidentally marked the day by backing new regulations for dispensaries selling medical marijuana.

In New Hampshire, about 100 people rallied in the state capital of Concord on the eve of a Senate vote to decriminalize small amounts of pot. Some lit up joints as state troopers watched from inside the Statehouse.

Governor John Lynch said he will veto the bill if it reaches him.

In Juneau, Alaska, about 20 young people, two dogs and a mother pushing a stroller marched in driving rain, whooping and chanting, “Yes we cannabis!” — a play on US President Barack Obama’s campaign slogan.

Their route took them past the state Capitol and City Hall.

In California, where voters in November will consider whether to tax the sale of marijuana for recreational use, a three-month-old cultivation equipment emporium in Oakland got a 24-hour jump start, sponsoring a “420 Eve” festival on Monday.

Several hundred revelers lined up outside the 1,394m² iGrow shop. Security guards kept them at bay until 4:20pm, when they could enter a medical marijuana delivery service raffle to win an oversized joint and a tour of a 16m portable grow room with a starting price of US$60,000.

“I wouldn’t have thought we would be able to consume on site,” marveled John Corral, 19, of San Jose, after he obtained a wristband that gave him access to the event’s two “vapor lounges,” the one inside the Hummer and another inside a companion Range Rover limousine.

Two years ago, before he had a doctor’s recommendation to smoke pot, Corral commemorated 4/20 on Hippie Hill, the Golden Gate Park promontory where an earlier generation of pot aficionados made their stand.

Marijuana use is getting more attention these days, with voters in California and possibly three other states set to decide whether to legalize adult use of the drug.

South Dakota voters will consider in the fall whether to join California and the 13 other states that allow medical cannabis use.

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