Par­ties, demon­stra­tions mark 4/20 hol­i­day

Ac­tivists’ cel­e­bra­tions pro­mote le­gal­iza­tion

The Dallas Morning News - - NATION -

SEATTLE — From Capi­tol Hill to Hip­pie Hill, mar­i­juana en­thu­si­asts ob­served their 4/20 hol­i­day Thurs­day with pub­lic smoke-outs, par­ties and, yes, great deals on weed.

Be­fore the clock even hit 4:20 p.m., there were ar­rests in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, as po­lice took seven peo­ple into cus­tody at a demon­stra­tion that in­volved hand­ing out joints to con­gres­sional staff.

Pot fans in Los Angeles went for a cannabis-fu­eled hike, and in Port­land, Maine, a lo­cal au­thor spent the af­ter­noon giv­ing away more than 200 grams of mar­i­juana to a long line of fans.

The an­nual cel­e­bra­tion of cannabis cul­ture gave ac­tivists an op­por­tu­nity to re­flect on how far they’ve come — recre­ational use of mar­i­juana is now le­gal in eight states and the na­tion’s cap­i­tal — and on the na­tional po­lit­i­cal tone, with Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials repris­ing talk­ing points from the hey­day of the war on drugs.

“We’re look­ing at an at­tor­ney gen­eral who wants to bring Amer­ica back into the 1980s in terms of drug pol­icy,” said Vi­vian McPeak, a founder of Hempfest in Seattle. “I’m skep­ti­cal they can put the cannabis ge­nie back into the bot­tle.” Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump hasn’t clar­i­fied what his ap­proach to mar­i­juana will be, but At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions op­poses the drug’s le­gal­iza­tion and or­dered a re­view this month of the gov­ern­ment’s mar­i­juana pol­icy, which has in­cluded a largely hands-off ap­proach in le­gal mar­i­juana states.

Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary John Kelly re­cently called mar­i­juana “a po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous gate­way drug that fre­quently leads to the use of harder drugs” — a view long held by drug war­riors de­spite scant ev­i­dence of its va­lid­ity.

This year’s 4/20 party fol­lows Dustin Creasy of Den­ver suc­cess­ful le­gal­iza­tion cam­paigns in Cal­i­for­nia, Ne­vada, Maine and Mas­sachusetts, which joined Alaska, Colorado, Ore­gon and Wash­ing­ton as states that al­low recre­ational mar­i­juana. More than half of all states now al­low med­i­cal mar­i­juana.

In Cal­i­for­nia, which voted to le­gal­ize mar­i­juana last fall, events ranged from mar­i­juana cook­ing classes to the an­nual bac­cha­nal on Hip­pie Hill in San Fran­cisco’s Golden Gate Park.

Though there were plenty of nighttime events planned, about two dozen pot fans in the Los Angeles area opted for a morn­ing cel­e­bra­tion, gath­er­ing around 9 a.m. at a trail­head in the Al­tadena foothills for “High’ke,” a 2.5-mile trek that promised joints to every­one who made it to the 5,600foot peak of Mount Lowe.

Anna Acosta, 49, said she hoped to revel in the “ca­ma­raderie of be­ing out in na­ture with a bunch of na­ture-loving, tree-loving, like-minded peo­ple.”

Pot shops in some le­gal mar­i­juana states were of­fer­ing dis­counts. In Alaska, though, reg­u­la­tors put a damper on pro­mo­tions, warn­ing re­tail shops about an “alarm­ing amount of so­cial me­dia ad­ver­tise­ments for 4/20 cel­e­bra­tions” that vi­o­late state rules against cer­tain ac­tiv­i­ties, such as games or com­pe­ti­tions, that en­cour­age pot sales.

James Bar­rett, a co-owner of the Rain­for­est Farms re­tail store in down­town Juneau, said his com­pany pulled its spon­sor­ship of a cannabis cel­e­bra­tion to avoid run­ning afoul of the rules.

Sixty per­cent of adults sup­port le­gal­iz­ing mar­i­juana, ac­cord­ing to a Gallup poll last fall, and two-thirds of re­spon­dents in a Ya­hoo/Marist poll re­leased this week said mar­i­juana is safer than opi­oids — even when those painkillers are pre­scribed by doc­tors.

Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse

Po­lice ar­rest Rachel Ra­mone Don­lan (cen­ter) af­ter she gave out mar­i­juana to Wash­ing­ton, D.C., res­i­dents who work on Capi­tol Hill. Thurs­day’s “joint ses­sion” demon­stra­tion pro­moted the drug’s le­gal­iza­tion.

RJ San­gosti/The Den­ver Post

smokes dur­ing the 4/20 event at Den­ver’s Civic Cen­ter Park. Recre­ational mar­i­juana is le­gal in Colorado and seven other states.

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