Mainstream Media Coverage of 4/20 2012

4/20 2012 in Toronto.4/20 2012 in Toronto.CANNABIS CULTURE – Thousands of people with a passion for pot gathered in cities around the world yesterday to celebrate 4/20. But it wasn’t only stoners and activists who showed up at the reefer rallies; the mainstream media was also out in force, getting the story (and getting high from second-hand smoke).

Cannabis Culture is combing the internet to compile some of the best and worst coverage. Read our collection of press stories about 4/20 2012 (click the links to see videos and photos from each article):

Thousands stage massive 4/20 smoke-ins to protest Canada’s pot laws

by Postmedia News

The air got thick and hazy in cities across Canada Friday as thousands of marijuana activists lit up to mark 4/20 (April 20), the annual, international day to celebrate pot.

The event is much a day to rail against prohibitionist drug laws as it is a day to indulge.

Fittingly, more than 5,000 gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, according to police estimates. In Toronto, crowds jammed the downtown Yonge-Dundas Square. Vancouver typically hosts the country’s largest 4/20 event, with a radio news helicopter hovering over anticipated crowds of up to 20,000. Prairie potheads blazed up in Winnipeg and in Regina.

Pot activists say they’re concerned about the Harper government’s recent move to toughen Canada’s drug laws.

The Safe Streets and Communities Act passed in March includes new mandatory minimum sentences for drug offences that involve youth or criminal gangs, including marijuana-related offences.

The reforms were made to fight criminal cartels that profit from the illicit drug trade and protect Canadian families, a spokeswoman from the Justice Department said in an email.

“We are not making any changes to the law with regards to simple marijuana possession,” said Julie Di Mambro. “Instead, we are targeting the source of the illicit drug trade: the drug traffickers and those who import drugs into Canada.”

“Prohibition is not solving the problem, it’s making it worse,” said Jodie Emery, a marijuana activist from B.C., who attended the Vancouver rally. “We need a new approach.”

Emery’s husband Marc, the “Prince of Pot,” is currently serving a five-year prison sentence in the United States for mailing marijuana seeds over the border.

“People who use or share marijuana shouldn’t face criminal penalties when they’re not hurting anybody else,” Emery said. “Each year the protests get bigger and bigger. Do all those thousands of people deserve to be put it prison? The answer is no.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper seemed to agree with protesters when he said “the current approach is not working” in response to a question about the war on drugs at the Summit of the Americas on April 15.

But Di Mambro said Harper was only talking about the war on international drug cartels. She said the federal government’s position stands: decriminalization and legalization are off the table.

The mood on Parliament Hill was defiant as smokers inhaled at 4:20 p.m.

“It shouldn’t be just this one day, it should be every day,” said John Albert, who attended the protest in sunglasses decorated with a marijuana leaf. “It’s a farce. If this many people can break the law at once, the law is dysfunctional.”

In Winnipeg, one sturdy man stood out among the throng at the Manitoba legislature, wearing a black shirt that bore a bold message: “COPS SAY LEGALIZE DRUGS,” it read. “ASK ME WHY.”

So a Winnipeg Free Press reporter did. “For 40 years, we’ve enforced the law,” said Bill VanderGraaf, a retired Winnipeg police staff sergeant who used to work the homicide and street gang beats. “Now Harper’s increased the law, and I think that’s going to make our country more dangerous. We’re criminalizing too many young people . . . you can recover from an addiction, but you’ll never recover from a conviction.”

According to the United Nations World Drug Report, in 2009 more than one in 10 Canadians ingested marijuana in some form. That rose to more than one in four for those aged 15 to 24.

The number 4-20 has long been associated with marijuana use but the origins of the association between digits and marijuana use are hazy and ill remembered.

One legend posits that the tradition began in the 1970s with a bunch of Northern California teenagers who smoked up daily at 4:20.

The number is now enshrined in law, as California’s medical marijuana bill was introduced in the state senate as Bill 420.

With a file from Melissa Martin, Winnipeg Free Press

– Article from

Annual ‘4/20’ pot event celebrated in Vancouver

by CBC News

A crowd estimated at more than 10,000 people gathered outside the Vancouver Art Gallery Friday for the annual marijuana smoking event known as “4/20.”

Police blocked off streets all around the downtown locale for hours in the late afternoon, clogging rush hour traffic.

Similar gatherings were staged in cities across North America, as they are every April 20, often featuring speakers who address the crowds with calls for loosening or eliminating marijuana laws.

Despite a prominent police presence on the perimeter, many people at the Vancouver event openly smoke marijuana and few are ever arrested.

“At the 4/20 event, conducting enforcement on minor possession of marijuana is not our priority,” said police spokesman Lindsey Houghton.

Some Vancouver parents have expressed concern because the city’s school board scheduled Friday as a professional development day, meaning classes are cancelled at most schools, leaving many teenage students free to attend the 4/20 event.

“I don’t think it’s very responsible,” Inge Mueller-Langer, mother of two teens, told CBC News. “If we had an event where children were being offered tequila shots, we would all be in an uproar.”

Drug prevention experts like Tibor Palatinus, of Narconon, say 4/20 is a bad idea.

“It’s not a festival,” Palatinus said. “It’s a pot promotion. It’s a weed-selling promotion. Sponsored and promoted by drug dealers. That’s what is going on.”

The head of the Vancouver School Board’s drug prevention program, Art Steinmann, said that although there are no classes, the Vancouver School Board is co-hosting a free concert all afternoon at East Vancouver’s Rio Theatre in an attempt to discourage students from heading to the 4/20 event.

The 4/20 tradition has many reputed origins, but it’s believed to have originated in the 1970s at a California high school where students would gather at 4:20 p.m. every weekday to smoke pot.

– Article from CBC News.

Marijuana lovers celebrate April 20 with 4/20 rally at Yonge-Dundas Square

by CityNews

It was just another Friday for most, but for marijuana lovers in Toronto and across the world, April 20 marked 4/20 — the international celebration calling for the legalization of pot.

In Toronto, the rally at Yonge-Dundas Square was peaceful – if hazy – as smokers lit up at 4:20 p.m. It’s not known exactly why 4/20 is used as the date, but the term originated in California and has been used for decades.

A spokeswoman for Conservative Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has repeatedly said the federal government has no intention to decriminalize or legalize marijuana.

Newly-minted NDP leader Tom Mulclair, the leader of the official opposition, said Friday he supported decriminalization.

Since January, the Liberal party has supported legalization.

With files from The Canadian Press

– Article from CityNews.

4/20: Vancouver Art Gallery grounds full of marijuana enthusiasts (with video)

by The Vancouver Sun

Thousands of marijuana enthusiasts crowded onto the grounds of the Vancouver Art Gallery today to celebrate cannabis culture as part of the annual 4/20 “pot holiday”.

Unofficial event organizers the Vancouver Seed Bank were on hand as well as dozens of other entrepreneurs selling pot, paraphernalia and food to the mellow crowd as musicians jammed throughout the hazy afternoon. Similar celebrations took place in many large cities across the world as people came together to call for legalization of the drug they say is relatively harmless.

Tesla Chao was selling samosas and Thai salad wraps to the hungry revelers during her first 4/20 celebration.

“It’s a rally and a celebration to celebrate fun and decriminalization of laws that just cost us money and don’t make any sense at all,” Chao said.

Pot activist Jodie Emery spoke in front of a 15-foot tall poster of her jailed husband and fellow activist Marc Emery and called on legalization. Political pamphlets and speakers abound, but most seemed content to hang out and enjoy the sunny spring day with friends.

Police officers and city engineers circled the perimeter of the festivities, but did not stop people from selling or smoking the drug.

“While in this case we know people will be in possession of illegal drugs, it will not be our first priority to intervene in this event,” said police spokesman Const. Lindsey Houghton in an email. ” The VPD’s priority as part of our drug strategy (which can be found on our website) is to focus on those trafficking controlled substances, not those in possession of minor amounts of marijuana.

“There have been no problems in the past and we are not anticipating any this year.”

Normally, a person can smoke pot in Vancouver and get away without a fine or being arrested by a police officer.


“Every situation is different but our drug enforcement priorities are not arresting people for simple possession of small amounts of marijuana,” Houghton said in his email. “Regardless, it would be seized for destruction.”

About 250 people showed up to Vancouver’s first 4/20 celebration in 1995 at Victory Square near the city’s Downtown Eastside. By 1997 the annual celebration had moved to the art gallery and attendance climbed into the thousands.

The numbers 4/20 can be traced back to the high schools of mid-’70s central California, according to Marc Emery’s history of the event provided in a pamphlet at the art gallery Friday.

High school classes ended each day at 4 p.m., about 20 minutes later, high school fans of the legendary San Francisco jam band The Grateful Dead began to congregating to smoke joints, according to Emery.

The numbers became an established part of the “Deadhead” subculture.

Mainstream support for the legalization of the drug have been growing as politicians, public health officers, judges, police chiefs, four Vancouver mayors, four former B.C. provincial attorneys-general, and many Canadians have voiced their belief in legalization.

South of the border, Washington state’s Initiative 502 is November U.S. election ballot initiative that would tax and regulate marijuana in Washington state. Now, 16 states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana laws and 14 have decriminalized possession

– Article from The Vancouver Sun.

More than 5,000 gather on Hill to mark 4/20

by CBC News

RCMP estimate somewhere between 5,000 to 6,000 people gathered on Parliament Hill Friday to celebrate 4/20 by smoking marijuana and calling for its legalization.

April 20, widely known in marijuana culture as “4/20,” is a day when thousands of people gather for “smoke-ins” in cities across North America at 4:20 p.m.

A Parliament Hill webcam showed a large group of people gathered on Parliament’s large front lawn. They had earlier gathered at nearby Major’s Hill Park before marching to the Hill.

Paramedics were called to the Hill by RCMP to stand by in case anyone needed help. And just after 4:20 p.m., paramedics said four people were treated for “various marijuana intoxication symptoms” including weakness, light-headedness and “tingling in extremities.”

Only one person, a 47-year-old man, was taken to hospital for alcohol and marijuana intoxication. He was listed in stable condition.

RCMP Cpl. Lucy Shorey told CBC News no arrests had been made as of about 5 p.m. Friday afternoon. She said RCMP continued to maintain a presence in the area as crowds started to disperse.

The 4/20 tradition has many reputed origins, but it’s believed to have originated in the 1970s at a California high school where students would gather at 4:20 p.m. every weekday to smoke pot.

– Article from CBC News.

420 on Parliament Hill Sets Attendance Record by Russell Barth – April 20, 2012

by Cornwall Free News

See videos @ the original story (link below)

CFN -As Ottawa’s (arguably) most publicly-known marijuana activist, I have been consistently embarrassed in the eyes of my fellow activists – both nationally and internationally – by Ottawa stoners’ propensity for splitting the 420 crowds into two. Year after year, half the participants were going to Parliament Hill, and half were going to nearby Major’s Hill Park.

Look at any Youtube video of “420 Ottawa” from any of the previous years, and you see a lot of evidence of this. Two crowds both numbering hundreds or even thousands (depending on the weather, no organization, no coherent message. Meanwhile, my friends from Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver post pictures and videos of 10,000 – 15,000 people, stage set ups, P.A. systems, kiosks, the works.

This year, Ottawa organizers Graham Kittmer (and others), took it upon themselves to try and gather these two groups together. Well, that sort of failed, at first, but ironically, the day was saved by the Ottawa Police Service. There were no volunteers to help marshall the parade, if there was ever going to be one, so they took it upon themselves to keep the Major’s park clear of ne’er-do-wells.

My wife and I arrived at Major’s Hill Park at about 3:15 pm, to find maybe 20 cops, some with motorcycles, telling about 20 stoners, sitting in small groups throughout the park, to move along. Police were under the false impression that the whole thing was supposed to be on Parliament Hill, and informed me that there was a huge crowd there already. With little choice, I pointed to my camouflage “MEDICINAL” shirt, and told them that for the rest of the day, they can tell the stragglers, “on behalf of the organizers”, yes, it is all at the Hill this year. Wasn’t much I could do, and I offered that as a help to the police, because some of the kids, surprisingly, were still not leaving.

I would like to point that the OPS were completely within their rights to arrest people – not only for using pot in the park, but for smoking tobacco as well. There is a new bylaw in effect and it will make the summer complicated and difficult for everyone, but the police were extremely cordial about the whole thing. More than they needed to be, actually, and should be commended.

We got to Parliament Hill just after 3:30 and there were already at least 1,000 people there, I would guess, and the crowd was growing fast. The stink of pot and tobacco was profound. The RCMP stood around like parent chaperones at a high school dance, forced to listen to music and watch dancing designed specifically to infuriate them. They feigned boredom to mask their disdain and/or delight.

I met with the organizers and the featured speaker, Marc Boris St. Maurice from Montreal. I wandered around taking video and spoke to some media and a student crew who were making a documentary about political protest, not just pot protests.

At one point, there was an asian man with two toddlers – yes, toddlers – standing right in the middle of all of this weirdness, and I went over and asked him “Do you have any idea what is going on today?”

He did not. I explained the party/protest aspect, and that he was welcome to stay. I also told him that he should head off to the east corner – upwind – as ”…in about 12 minutes, a huge cloud of dope smoke is going to come wafting across this thing and, well, your kids are gonna get stoned. And that’s not cool. You need to get them out of here. Like, now.”

Four o’clock came around and Boris started things off. He did a short intro, and then, apprehensively, handed the mic to me.

Notice that I had the TV guy just over my right shoulder? Not sure if that shot got on TV, but I am told I was on CTV news that night. I spoke to the cameraman and said

“Make sure they represent these numbers accurately, right?” He said “I shoot wide, I shoot tight, and they edit it how they want. I have no control.”
4:20 pm approached and I was having a lot of trouble getting my joint lit. Finally managed to, with the help of some over-eager beaver who kept bugging me, on camera, for a toke of my joint. I explained politely that I had a Health Canada permit, and sharing joints on camera was a good way to lose that permit. So no. He also feigned reluctance to be on camera, which I chided him for.

“No one comes to these things expecting to avoid cameras. You come here to be photographed. That is the point of this.”

I asked the RCMP what they thought the crowd size was, at about 4:05. They shrugged and nodded at each other, and we all agreed it looked like about 4000 people. Still growing though, at this stage. Here is a nice time lapse video of the Hill-Cam courtesy of Youtube’s own “purplegummibear”:

I also noticed that the RCMP did not have their usual “surveillance” van with a Horseman on the roof shooting with a long-lens SLR like I have seen at other pot-themed Hill events. They must have realized by now that if they want photos of who was all there, all they have to do is look at the internet. People love toking on camera.

The crowd lit it up at 4:20 pm and I was a little aghast, quite frankly. I had never been in anything like this before:

Several minutes later, I started to panic a little when I could not find my wife. Keep in mind, we both have social anxiety issues that come with PTSD, and she has epilepsy, so crowds of enthusiastic revelers is a little off-putting for us. A lot off-putting, actually. I kept walking around the Parliament steps – the “stage” – looking for my wife, trying to spot her black shirt in a sea of 5500 people, half of whom were wearing at least some black.

Eager Beaver kept bugging me to light my joint again, while I became increasingly frantic. I eventually became quite terse with him, and feel justified in doing so, and here is why: You don’t go to these events and bum tokes off people. You just don’t. Bring your own, chip in with friends, or politely wait for something to be offered. Asking for pot – that is trafficking.

Offering pot – that is trafficking. But most of all, it is just Bad Form. You don’t meander along patios asking for bits of food or smoke from restaurant patrons, do you? You don’t ask for a bite of a sandwich as you walk by someone’s park picnic, do you? Well, if you are homeless, okay, maybe you do, but otherwise, no. And, no – that is not a shot at the homeless, it is a shot at all the stray dogs who come to these events with empty pockets. Show some self-respect, dude. Bring your own, or suck it up!

Still unable to find Christine, I had Boris page her on the PA and she arrived seconds later. I hugged her hard for about 10 seconds. She told me should could feel my heart pounding. My primary function – as a living human – is to take care of her. Failing in that is unacceptable.

We hung around for about another hour, talking to media, and I was even interviewed live on local rock radio station The Bear (106.9fm in Ottawa) ( at about 5:00pm.

Next year, weather permitting, and with April 20 falling on a saturday, I think we can get the number up over 8000. Here’s hoping.

– Article from Cornwall Free News.

Crowds gather in Regina for 4/20 celebrations, protests


About 50 people gathered in Regina’s Victoria Park on Friday at 4:20 p.m., in what some called a celebration of marijuana, and others a protest of its illegality.

About a dozen police officers were at the event, writing tickets and making arrests for those participating.

“This is medicinal, this is not anything more scary than a glass of wine at night, or a prozac, or a paxil, or the chemotherapy drugs that they wish to shove down your throat,” said Katelyn, who has health problems and looks to cannabis for help.

She said she was there protesting pharmaceutical companies.

Two others who did not want to be named said they were there supporting their friends — one was sitting in a wheelchair, frail and shivering, and the other was using a walker.

They both said they were in accidents involving drunk drivers, which left them with brain damage.

They argued alcohol is what made them need to use medical marijuana, calling it ironic that liquor is legal, while police hassled them over a drug which helps them to get by.

– Article from CKOM.

Two arrested in laid-back 4/20 pot protest

by London Free Press

About 250 people holding signs faced off with London police as the group rallied Friday against drug laws they say turn innocent people into criminals.

But when the smoke cleared at Victoria Park only two men were arrested.

Under the watchful eye of about 30 London police officers, the group gathered at the downtown park to celebrate marijuana on 4/20 day (April 20).

Started on a lark in the early ’70s by a group of marijuana-smoking teens, 4/20 is marked across North America by rallies in support of making marijuana legal.

Touting it as a safer pain killer alternative to oxycodone or Percocet, some in the group said the drug should be decriminalized in small amounts.

“I look at today as a protest against the war on drugs that’s not working,” said one man holding a megaphone who would only identify himself as a Londoner named Rene.

All those drugs laws have created are bigger police forces and larger jails and driven profits from their sale to an underground market, Rene said.

Holding signs that said End Prohibition and Only 3% of Medicinal Marijuana Users are Licensed, the group also included a man in a wheelchair holding a sign that said Where is the Doctor to Sign My Medical Card?

A cheer went up as the time reached 4:20 p.m. and some people lit incense and smoked tobacco.

Leading up to the event, London police vowed to crack down on anyone smoking up.

Two men were arrested. At least one was later released, though police said charges are pending.

Another person was issued a ticket under the Liquor Licence Act.

Last year, several hundred people turned out for the rally and six were arrested.

Police called Friday’s gathering peaceful.

“So far it’s been pretty good. Everybody seems to be behaving themselves,” Const. T.J. Walker said.

Occupy London hosted a rally before 4:20 p.m. to protest the war on drugs.

“The majority of Canadians now agree our current approach to drug control doesn’t work,” Eric Shepperd said in an interview. “It’s actually causing more harm than good.”

– Article from London Free Press.

Police ticket Regina 4-20 pot demonstrators

by CBC News

A group of people gathered in Regina’s downtown Victoria Park, to call for loosened marijuana laws, were greeted by police officers handing out tickets.

The gathering, known as 4-20, suggests people should light up at 4:20 p.m., local time, on April 20th.

In Regina, one participant was clad in a costume to look like a giant cannabis leaf.

Police were on site around 4 p.m., and were seen taking people’s smoking material from their hands and extinguishing them.

The smell in the air suggested many people were smoking marijuana, even before 4:20.

Officers were also seen writing up tickets, and handing them to people. The exact citation, however, was not immediately known.

At least one person was taken away from the park in handcuffs.

About 100 people were in the park. Police, in uniform, numbered around 10.

– Article from CBC News.

Stoner sub-cultures to look for at 4/20

by Metro Vancouver

Up to 15,000 people are expected to pack the grounds of the Art Gallery Friday for the world’s biggest annual celebration of cannabis culture: 4/20.

Keep in mind if you want to avoid getting caught up in the horticultural hoopla the 700 Block of Howe St. will be closed from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

A crowd that big is bound to be diverse, even if everyone is there for one reason. Here’s a rundown of the subcultures you can expect to find milling about in haze.

The Hard-Core Stoner

Jailed “Prince of Pot” Marc Emery‘s longtime friend Greg Williams says he has built up his marijuana tolerance through years of chronic, daily use.

“We function normally, we have a business and it runs smoothly and efficiently, and we smoke more pot than most other people could possibly imagine,” he says, talking about his day job at Marc Emery’s Cannabis Culture Headquarters on West Hastings St. “We’re not a bunch of stupid stoners. We just aren’t, and we can prove that any time of the day.”

So if you happen to see him at 4:20 throw some Trivial Pursuit questions his way.

The Office Tower Escapee

The event’s organizer, Jacob Hunter, says he was talking to some of Vancouver’s finest two years ago when they started laughing about what surveillance officers were seeing from overhead.

“From the overhead view they could see streams of people leaving the financial district towers and heading straight for the Art Gallery,” Hunter says. “You can really see after 4:30 the crowd starts to shift as kind of the hard-cores from earlier in the day get tired and start heading home.”

The Activist

No one in Vancouver is more visible in the fight for legalization these days than Jodie Emery, Marc Emery’s outspoken wife, and she’ll be one of the main speakers at Friday’s event.

She’ll make her trademark impassioned speech calling for the regulation and taxation of marijuana as the clock strikes 4:20, and be joined by Vancouver East NDP MP Libby Davies, as well as former B.C. NDP leadership candidate Dana Larsen.

The Overzealous Brownie-Muncher

Organizer Jacob Hunter has a warning for anyone with a sweet tooth.

“Generally speaking, we have an issue almost every year where people eat too many baked goods,” he says, noting there is a first aid tent for anyone who gets overcome.

His safety tips: Remember it takes an hour for baked goods to take effect, don’t eat more than one in a two-hour period, and definitely don’t combine with alcohol.

The Medicinal User

Hunter is also a medical marijuana license holder. After getting knee reconstruction surgery in 2010 for an extreme form of degenerative arthritis, his surgeon explained he is one of a few people who get no pain relief from opiates. Ibuprofen was incompatible with his condition, so he got his pot papers signed.

“On a day like 4/20 it’s just nice for medicinal users to kind of be out in the open and not have to feel like they’re a second-class citizen,” he says.

The Rasta

Kostaman is a dreadlocked musician who friends describe as a “white, Greek guy” with a “Rasta personality.”

He says there aren’t too many authentic Rastafarians in Vancouver — they tend to live in Toronto — but he does his best to represent the culture.

“The philosophy of Rasta is a spiritual philosophy. It’s one of love, hence the ‘one love,’” he says, explaining he got his Rasta education while living in Miami. “One vibration, one heart, one message.”

He’ll bring that message to the main stage at 3 p.m.

The Confused Tourist

Organizer Jacob Hunter says he’s heard reports of local hotels getting bookings from all over Canada from people planning to attend Vancouver’s 4/20 festivities.

But, he admits, not everyone who ends up at the Art Gallery knows what they’re in for.

“It’s funny, every year you get tour groups that are drawn by the music, wander in and just cannot believe what they’re seeing,” he says. “It’s always one of my favourites.”

– Article from Metro.

All about 4/20 marijuana holiday

by Associated Press

Students and others across the country have long observed April 20 as a day to celebrate marijuana. Here are some questions and answers about the counterculture holiday and the state of marijuana in the United States:

WHO CELEBRATES? The observation is shared by marijuana users from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to New York’s Greenwich Village. Last year, some 10,000 people gathered at the University of Colorado-Boulder to simultaneously smoke marijuana. This year, the university is shutting down a campus quad that hosts the annual 4/20 gathering. Organizers say the protest may be moved to a nearby off-campus neighborhood, which could cause clashes between police and protesters. A rally is planned for Denver near the state capitol on Friday and Saturday. Police have suggested they’ll be taking a hands-off approach to the gathering, which could draw tens of thousands of people. In Austin, Texas, country music legend Willie Nelson, who’s open about his marijuana use, was expected to help unveil an 8-foot statue of himself in downtown Austin at 4:20 p.m. local time.

WHAT’S IT MEAN? The number 420 has been associated with marijuana use for decades, though its origins are murky. Its use as code for marijuana spread among California pot users in the 1960s and spread nationwide among followers of the Grateful Dead. Like most counterculture slang, theories abound on its origin. Some say it was once police code in Southern California to denote marijuana use (probably an urban legend). It was a title number for a 2003 California bill about medical marijuana, an irony fully intended. Others trace it to a group of California teenagers who would meet at 4:20 p.m. to search for weed (a theory as elusive as the outdoor cannabis crop they were seeking). Yet the code stuck for obvious reasons: Authorities and nosy parents didn’t know what it meant.

HOW MANY STATES HAVE LEGALIZED MEDICAL MARIJUANA? In 1996, a ballot measure made California the first state to legalize medical marijuana. Sixteen states now allow the use of medicinal marijuana.

HOW MANY STATES ARE CONSIDERING LEGALIZING RECREATIONAL POT? Two states — Colorado and Washington — are considering legalizing pot for recreational purposes.

WHERE DOES THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT STAND? Marijuana use, sale and possession are illegal under federal law.

– Article from Associated Press.

420 rally reports from across Colorado

by The Denver Post

In Colorado, pot culture has become pop culture, with tens of thousands demonstrating today by publicly smoking marijuana in bowls, bongs and blunts in cities and towns across the state.

The University of Colorado at Boulder opted to close its campus. Marijuana activists sued for an injunction against the closure (and lost). Eight counties planned events as alternatives to the smoke-ins. CU-Boulder students planned a Wyclef Jean concert where the performer isbarred from making any marijuana or other drug references. Enacting the campus closure, CU-Boulder deployed police and sprayed foul-smelling fish fertilizer on the Norlin Quad. And in Denver, Civic Center is rapidly filling with people. Here we will curate social media conversation about the rallies in Denver, Boulder and around Colorado.

– Article from The Denver Post.

4/20: Sweet smoke from Vancouver to Boulder

by Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The informal 4/20 national marijuana smoke-in, born in the 1970?s at San Rafael High School in California, has grown (illegally) from the Canadian province with a billion-dollar “B.C. Bud” crop to the campus of “Rocky Mountain High” in Colorado.

It’s an historic April 20th, on a number of counts.

We’re marking the 75th anniversary of the federal prohibition on marijuana, which has not prevented 100 million Americans from smoking cannabis, in venues from the elite Honolulu high school attended by Barack Obama to the I-didn’t-inhale experience in England of Rhodes Scholar Bill Clinton.

Our politicians seem to agree, in words from Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the Summit of the Americas in Colombia that the criminal pursuit of pot “is not working but it is not clear what we should do.”

The University of Colorado-Boulder usually features one of America’s largest smoke-ins. And this year, voters in Colorado will get to decide on proposition 64, which would tax and regulate cannabis.

Initiative 502, on Washington’s ballot, would do likewise — and has garnered support from a former FBI man, the Seattle city attorney, nabobs from the bar and medicine, and a former U.S. Attorney.

Nowhere is 4/20 more popular than in Vancouver, B.C., where high school students flock to downtown each year. CBS News checked the records, and 900 more Vancouver students skilled school on 4/20/2011 than Wednesday the week before.

On the eve of 4/20, Stop Violence B.C. brought ex-U.S. Attorney John McKay up to Vancouver for a press conference, where he joined ex-British Columbia Attorney General Geoff Plant in calling for marijuana legalization.

The Vancouver School Board did not check the calendar this year, and put down 4/20 as a “professional development day” for teachers — with many high school classes canceled.

The school board did schedule a concert at East Vancouver’s Rio Cafe. But with classes out, the day off means up, up and away for many secondary students in the Great White North.

“I don’t think it’s very responsible: I think the schools should instead be educating our children about the potential long-term effects of smoking pot when you are a teenager,” parent Inge Mueller-Langer told CBC.

But anti-marijuana “education” — notably the famous movie “Reefer Madness” — has itself become an object of mirth. In the 1970?s, sponsors of Seattle’s Blossom Initiative used the film as a fund-raising tool.

However many kids turn out in Boulder and Vancouver (and California’s Marin County), the crowds of smokers likely will not approach those of Seattle’s annual waterfront Hempfest Festival.

– Article from Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

420 crackdown – fertilizer hampers Colorado grass

by Associated Press

Protesters demanding that marijuana be legalized marched onto the University of Colorado on Friday, testing the school’s determination to push the annual April 20 pot celebration off campus.

By the time they halted on a grassy field near a science building, the protesters appeared to number in the hundreds. A handful of Boulder police officers, some in SWAT gear, watched but made no move to interfere with the crowd.

They counted down the seconds to 4:20 p.m., let out a cheer at zero and then lit up, exhaling a collective cloud of smoke that rose over their heads. After about 15 minutes the crowd and the smoke dispersed.

The protesters avoided the Norlin Quadrangle, where last year’s rally attracted more than 10,000 people. The university spread stinky fish fertilizer on the quad early Friday and declared it closed, surrounding it with yellow tape and stationing about two dozen officers around the perimeter. That effort appeared largely successful.

In past years, the April 20 rally at the University of Colorado was one of the largest on any campus in the nation. Administrators were determined to fend off this year’s event and dispel an image in some people’s minds that the school was a pot-happy party palace.

In addition to closing the Norlin Quadrangle and baiting it with the smelly fertilizer, university officials closed the campus to all unauthorized visitors on Friday and offered a free campus concert by Haitian-born hip-hop star Wyclef Jean timed to coincide with the traditional 4:20 p.m. pot gathering.

Many students at the University of Colorado and other campuses across the country have long observed 4/20. The counterculture observation is shared by marijuana users from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to New York’s Greenwich Village.

The number 420 has been associated with marijuana use for decades, though its origins are murky. Its use as code for marijuana spread among California pot users in the 1960s and broadened nationwideamong followers of the Grateful Dead. It was a title number for a 2003 California bill about medical marijuana, an irony fully intended.

– Article from Associated Press.

420 Legal Risks if You Partake Today

by Reuters

It’s 420 today: the unofficial pot-smoker’s holiday that’s observed annually on April 20. (Despite rumors to the contrary, marijuana remains illegal under federal law — today, and every day.)

Why “420”? Explanations abound, but the Huffington Post traced the term’s origins to a group of California high school buds who would meet at 4:20 p.m. to search for an abandoned plot of pot plants, way back in 1971.

More than 40 years later, there seems to be a growing tolerance for marijuana nationwide; two states, Colorado and Washington, will vote on decriminalizing pot in November. But partaking in the drug can still come with pot-ential legal consequences.

Possible consequences of 420 include:

1. A citation or warning.

In most states, possession of any amount of marijuana can result in criminal charges. But if you’re caught with a miniscule amount, the police officer may let you go with just a citation or warning.

You may still need to appear in court for the citation, however. Consulting an experienced criminal lawyer may help get your case dismissed and eventually expunged from your record.

2. Probation or community service.

Possession of small amounts of marijuana is usually a misdemeanor — but each state defines “small amounts” differently. A misdemeanor possession conviction could result in fines and jail time, but if it’s your first “420” offense, a judge may opt to sentence you to community service or probation instead.

3. Fines and/or imprisonment.

A marijuana conviction can result in fines, which vary widely by state and could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for more serious offenses.

On top of a fine, a judge can also sentence you to prison. This is especially true if you’re convicted of selling marijuana, which can come with a life sentence some states.

4. A driver’s license suspension.

If you’re convicted for a marijuana-related offense, some states will automatically suspend your driver’s license for a certain period of time. That’s another sobering reason to speak with a defense lawyer to ensure the best possible outcome for your marijuana case, whether it happened on 420 or not.

– Article from Reuters.

CU-Boulder’s Wyclef Jean concert greeted by near-empty arena

by Daily Camera

The Wyclef Jean concert that University of Colorado student organizers spent about $150,000 to put on Friday as counterprogramming to the traditional 4/20 pot smoke-out on the Boulder campus drew just a few hundred students to the mostly-empty Coors Events Center.

CU student leaders estimated the crowd reached 1,000 students at its peak, but the audience that assembled — almost all on the floor of the arena, with the 11,000 seats sitting largely empty — appeared to be much smaller, reaching perhaps 500 people at any one time.

CU freshman Paul Silva and his friends left the show shortly after arriving and before Jean took the stage.

“We were in there, but it was lame,” Silva said. “I’ve been disappointed in the whole day.”
CU’s Program Council hosted the concert at the request of student leaders who said they were hoping to give their classmates a place to spend the afternoon that did not include Norlin Quad, which in past years has attracted more than 10,000 pot smokers on 4/20.

The university paid Jean, a former member of the Fugees and the show’s headliner, $80,000 to perform, according to his performance contract with CU.

The agreement also directed Jean to avoid “making direct references to marijuana and other illegal drugs or make 4/20 related remarks as this is a university sponsored event.” Yet Jean mentioned marijuana during his first song — and even called out student leaders for including that language in his contract.

“They told me I’m not supposed to talk about marijuana,” Jean said. “But I’m about one thing — freedom of speech.”

Jean continued discussing marijuana and 4/20 throughout the show, including chanting “legalize it” during his second song.

CU Student Government Vice President Carly Robinson said the university does not plan to go after Jean for breaking the terms of his contract.

“My understanding was that it was only about 30 seconds of the show,” Robinson said. “We didn’t want to stop the show or spend more money than we already have on litigation for such a small portion of the show.”

The doors for the concert opened at 2 p.m. and there were fewer than five students on the floor of the auditorium at 3 p.m., with more students scattered in the seats waiting for Jean, who did not take the stage until after 4:30 p.m.

CU sophomores Nathan Lockhart, A.J. Capitz and Zach Villani sat near the top of the arena until shortly before Jean began performing.

The students said they were excited about seeing the onetime Haitian presidential candidate, but even Jean’s performance did not make up for all of the measures taken by the university to curtail 4/20.

“Last year was fun and don’t we have the right to peacefully assemble?” Capitz said.

Villani said he was excited to see Jean perform, but the concert would have been more fun if the crowd was larger.

During the show, Jean mentioned the lack of energy in the crowd, telling students, “Weed in Boulder isn’t supposed to sedate you, it’s supposed to make you crazy like me.”

The students agreed that while they were unhappy with Friday’s campus closure, the increased security efforts by the university were successful in scaring students away from Norlin Quad. Yet the smell of marijuana still drifted through the Coors Event Center around 4:20 p.m.

– Article from Daily Camera.

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