A Celebration of the “Last 420” Before Legalization in California

by on April 20, 2016 · 0 comments

in California, Civil Rights, Culture, Environment, Health, History, Ocean Beach

Old Hippie ob timeYe Ol’OB Hippie Speaks

It seems rather fitting, doesn’t it, that today we celebrate the last 420 before recreational marijuana is legalized in California? It’s on the November election ballot – (a bunch of other different initiatives are trying for the ballot). But by all polls and tokens, marijuana legalization, in some form or rather, is expected to pass.

The last time weed legalization was on the California ballot, it was Prop 19 – the marijuana legalization initiative on the November 2010 ballot.  It lost, 53.5% to 46.5%, but more people voted for Prop 19 than voted for the Republican candidate for governor – Meg Whitman. Remember her?

Since then, all kinds of polls show Americans increasingly favoring legalization. Majorities of Americans, in fact, have favored legalization for 3 years already.

Adult Use of Marijuana Act

It looks like the main initiative on the California ballot that everyone and the money are piling on is the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which would allow Californians 21 and older to possess and use up to an ounce of marijuana, prohibit advertising targeting minors and would impose a 15% tax on retail sales of the drug. The cultivation, distribution and sale of recreational marijuana would be regulated by the state, and exporting marijuana out of California would be prohibited.

So, doesn’t it make sense to celebrate the “Last 420” before the legalization today? You betcha.

420 has become synonymous with marijuana, as many know. It’s used as a type of short-hand in our speech. It’s used by people looking for roommates or for housing, as in “420-friendly”. It’s now part of our lexicon.

Even Wikipedia is down with 420:

as a code-term that refers to the annual consumption of cannabis and by extension, as a way to identify oneself with cannabis culture. Observances based on the number 420 include smoking cannabis around the time 4:20 p.m., as well as smoking and celebrating cannabis on the date April 20 (4/20 in U.S. form).[1]

And 420’s origins?

For simplicity’s sake, we again turn to Wikipedia, which does have its authorities:


A group of people in San Rafael, California, calling themselves the Waldos because “their chosen hang-out spot was a wall outside the school”, used the term in connection with a fall 1971 plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop that they had learned about, based on a treasure map made by the grower.

The Waldos designated the Louis Pasteur statue on the grounds of San Rafael High School as their meeting place, and 4:20 p.m. as their meeting time.The Waldos referred to this plan with the phrase “4:20 Louis”. Several 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 marijuana-smoking in general.[6] Mike Edison says that Steven Hager of High Times was responsible for taking the story about the Waldos to “mind-boggling, cult-like extremes” and “suppressing” all other stories about the origin of the term.

Hager wrote “Stoner Smart or Stoner Stupid?” in which he called for 4:20 p.m. to be the socially accepted hour of the day to consume cannabis.[9] He attributes the early spread of the phrase to Grateful Dead followers, who were also linked to the city of San Rafael.

A February article in the LA Times described how the Adult Use of MJ Act has become the main avenue for herb proponents and advocates. By then, Napster co-founder and former Facebook President Sean Parker had donated a good chunk of $2.25 million raised by the campaign with his $1 million contribution.

Then it was endorsed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who chaired a blue-ribbon commission to determine the best way to legalize recreational marijuana in California. Newsom will probably be the 2018 Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate.

The spokesman for the Adult Use of Marijuana Act campaign, Jason Kinney, boasted:

“We have the largest coalition that’s ever supported a marijuana measure, probably in the country.  We were determined that this measure would be the consensus measure on the ballot regarding regulating marijuana … not everyone is going to get what they want.”

The initiative has also gained support from Drug Policy Action with $500,000 (backed by George Soros);  $250,000 from New Approach PAC, which the Times research showed was “formed by family members of the late billionaire insurance executive Peter Lewis of Progressive Corp.,” and also donating another half million was Californians for Sensible Reform, a political committee funded by Weedmaps Inc. in Orange County.

Other groups funding their own initiatives were downright frightened off by the major money coming down to their rival. Others’ bank accounts are dwarfed by the Adult Use treasure chest.

In a somewhat dated appraisal now, the LA Times reported:

Of the 20 separate ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana or expand protections for medical marijuana users and suppliers, six already have failed to qualify, and supporters of another four have effectively abandoned their efforts. None yet have qualified for the ballot.

Lastly, in a twist that brings smiles to marijuana users, there is a report out how a star athlete who smokes marijuana is trying to change the image that non-smokers have of pot smokers.

Chris Barnicle is a former NCAA All-American who competes in the pot-themed 420 Games, recently held in Venice, and wins. He celebrates with a joint in his van.

 In his own way, Barnicle felt as if he notched another mark in his mission to show that habitual marijuana users can be peak physical performers and not just the slack-jawed, Netflix-transfixed, junk food-gobbling Lotus eaters they’re often portrayed as in film and TV.

With Californians possibly voting to legalize recreational marijuana use later this year, pro-marijuana advocates are happy to be able to point to anyone who can soften the public’s perception of pot users beyond the well-worn, anesthetized stoner stereotypes. Barnicle covered the grueling 26.2 mile Olympic trial course in three hours and 45 minutes, well ahead of the average finishing time in the 2016 L.A. Marathon.

Though he finished last in the trials, Barnicle’s well-known embrace of marijuana brought attention to his campaign to quash the lazy stoner stereotype.

Said Barnicle:

“There’s a lot of people, even here in L.A., that are afraid to admit they use cannabis because there is that negative stigma against it still. I feel like there needs to be more people like me, God knows, there are tons of athletes … that are using cannabis. But because of their contracts they can’t say anything.”

Rules in national professional sports over pot use won’t probably change unless cannabis is legalized across the country, experts say. “Ingesting marijuana is grounds for suspension in the world of big-money pro sports.”

But, hey, for the rest of us in California, it’s time to celebrate the last 420 before it’s legal. Happy 420!


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