Last year, I was on The Colbert Report to talk about marijuana legalization as it was unfolding in Washington state and Colorado. Take a look above.
Yesterday was not only Easter, it was also 4/20, which lead to a very public "smoke-out" in Colorado. From the AP account of the event:
Tens of thousands of revelers raised joints, pipes and vaporizer devices to the sky Sunday at a central Denver park in a defiant toast to the April 20 pot holiday, a once-underground celebration that stepped into the mainstream in the first state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.
The 4:20 p.m. smoke-out in the shadow of the Colorado capitol was the capstone of an Easter weekend dedicated to cannabis in states across the country. Although it is still against the law to publicly smoke marijuana in Colorado, police reported only 130 citations or arrests over the course of the two-day event, 92 for marijuana consumption.
"It feels good not to be persecuted anymore," said Joe Garramone, exultantly smoking a joint while his 3-year-old daughter played on a vast lawn crowded with fellow smokers.
The Garramone family came from Hawaii, among the tens of thousands who crowded into various cannabis-themed extravaganzas, from a marijuana industry expo called the Cannabis Cup at a trade center north of downtown to 4/20-themed concerts at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater. Acts included Slightly Stoopid and Snoop Dogg.
If any group of people is more upset about legal pot than prohibitionists, it's anti-capitalist smokers:
"It's all about the money now," [a] Denver resident complained.
Yeah, it's all about the money now. Instead of the prosecutions, the mandatory counseling, the black-market-related crime, the massive disruptions to families, towns, cities, and so much more. Thank god.
Back in 2011, Matt Welch and I wrote about our experience at Seattle's annual Hempfest, which is three days of "peace, love, and marijuana." What we saw at Hempfest seems to be at play in Colorado's 4/20 parties:
Two things come into focus at the twin Myrtle Edwards and Centennial parks, bound by the indescribable Puget Sound on one side and grim railroad tracks on the other. The first is that no one is arguing, despite the dense crowds, slow-paced walking, scantily clad young folks, and loud bands. It turns out that a massive gathering where open pot use is tolerated (even celebrated) but booze is banned doesn't have to be filled with fights and scream fests; this isn't Dodger Stadium, or Saturday night in Collegetown, USA. The only attendees having a rough time are those who failed to heed Hempfest Executive Director Vivian McPeak's frequent fatherly warnings from the main stage to be respectful while speakers are talking and to always be hydrating. Sunstroke and necking are the only overindulgences on regular display. Whether it's the early morning or the late afternoon, the vibe is more mellow than anything Olivia Newton-John sang.
The second unusual sight is one that should give medical-marijuana skeptics pause: scores of people with visible physical handicaps integrated seamlessly, without special comment, into a subculture that has recognized their pain and need for relief as being worthy of individual dignity and choice. There are more wheelchairs, crutches, and missing limbs than at Lourdes or Fatima. You would certainly never see this many cripples at Lollapalooza, an annual musical event whose attendees pride themselves on their tolerance, or at the National Mall on Independence Day. The medicine that has salved these people's conditions has also provided them with a tolerant community in which they are in every sense equals.