420 arrives and pot smokers everywhere unite to celebrate

Michael Santo's picture

You might see the following in a personals ad: "420 friendly," but you might not know what it means, unless you think: marijuana.

Indeed, it's April 20 or 4/20, and it's a day when fans of cannabis will emerge to proudly smoke marijuana in parks and on college campuses across the country.

The origins of the term 420 have been disputed. It's not the local police code for pot smoking, but really, if it's a code, it's very well know. The best resource we have on the matter seems to be the oft-criticized-for-accuracy Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia says:

"The earliest use of the term began among a group of teenagers in San Rafael, California in 1971. Calling themselves the Waldos, because 'their chosen hang-out spot was a wall outside the school,' the group first used the term in connection to a fall 1971 plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop that they had learned about. The Waldos designated the Louis Pasteur statue on the grounds of San Rafael High School as their meeting place, and 4:20 pm as their meeting time. The Waldos referred to this plan with the phrase "4:20 Louis". Multiple failed attempts to find the crop eventually shortened their phrase to simply "4:20", which ultimately evolved into a codeword that the teens used to mean pot-smoking in general."

That said, not only will fans be quite willing to light up today, openly, they'll try to do so at exactly 4:20 p.m. All that means that some spots, not happy with being selected as popular gathering sites, are looking to do something to lessen the smoke.

The University of Colorado at Boulder has become one of the unwilling hosts of one of the biggest pro-pot rallies annually. This year, the campus is taking steps to tamp down the "festivities" as the rally has continued to grow to immense proportions. Aftter about a decade of gatherings, in recent years, attendance has grown to the point where in 2011, more than 10,000 people lit up in the campus' Norlin quad.

This year, the campus will shut be down to everyone except faculty, staff and students. Trespassing charges could be levied against violators.

In addition, the university is going to spread a foul-smelling fertilizer on the grassy area or Norlin quad today. University spokesman Bronson Hilliard said "We're trying to do things to make it not a fun place to be. We are using a fish-based fertilizer. It is a rather foul-smelling emulsifier."

It's also possible that police will ticket those smoking pot, but previously, they've pretty much ignored it. In 2011, for example, campus police only issued 23 tickets and made five arrests.

Hilliard said "People fly in from around the country to participate. We don't understand why they have to come to (this) campus."

Image Source Wikimedia Commons

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