April 20, 420, is a cultural landmark from the legend of the high school students in California, who in 1971 used to get high at 4:20 p.m. every day. “420” is now a marketing term for weed doctors and marijuana retail stores. In most states, weed culture, medical and recreational, is becoming an American feature, like Budweiser or Jack Daniels, even a neighborhood barbeque. State-regulated recreational cannabis sales are soaring in Colorado and Washington. In 2014, voters legalized recreational cannabis in Oregon, Alaska, and D.C.
20 years after California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana with Proposition 215. Cannabis activists are trying to legalize recreational cannabis and regulate a state-sanctioned cannabis industry in the Golden State for 2016. The political and legal status of cannabis is cloudy. Cannabis dispensaries have pot holiday specials, while Colorado residents filled the Civic Center Park in Denver, Sunday, blazing blunts and joints in the open-air Cannabis Cup.
California has the largest medical marijuana marketplace in America. State tax officials and cannabis advocacy groups claim that California produces $1.3 billion in taxable sales of cannabis. 1.4 million people have recommendations from doctors for medical marijuana. The large retail-style cannabis industry in California functions predominately without guidelines. The 2003 state legislation, dubbed SB 420, allows cannabis medical patients to cultivate and share cannabis collectively.
2011 and 2012 there were constant federal raids on state cannabis businesses. In four consecutive years, the California legislature has not approved market rules and oversight. Voters may have to straighten this out using ballot initiatives in 2016.
The 420 cannabis celebrations show there has been a generational change that few anticipated. In 1972, the legalization of cannabis was voted heavily against. It was not even a discussion. According to Ed Rosenthal, we have now had a complete attitude change that is as dramatic as civil rights, changing views towards the LGBT community, society has done a 180 concerning many social issues.
CNN aired a documentary, April 19, Weed 3: The Marijuana Revolution. Sanjay Gupta, Chief medical correspondent for CNN asked President Obama if he was supportive of the U.S. Senate dropping marijuana down to a Schedule II drug classification, a classification of drugs that have medicinal use and are less likely to be addictive. Obama said he has not studied the details but he said he was on record as supporting carefully prescribed medical marijuana as appropriate. The science needs to be followed not the ideology of the issue. However, he is going on record stating the more some of these drug abuse related issues are treated from a public health model, and not just from the point of view of incarceration, the better off we will be.
Obama has been opposed to the use of federal resources for the use of marijuana violations. However, the Office of National Drug Control Policy web site says, The Administration vehemently opposes the legalization of marijuana. In February, Obama supported the decriminalization of marijuana for non-violent drug offenders. He has also commented the he expects more states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and D.C. as of April 2015. Nine states have legislation pending and four states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
Last week, Kimberly J. Mueller, U.S. District Judge in Sacramento turned down the quest to legally change marijuana’s listing as a Schedule I drug, with heroin and LSD, and claiming no medicinal value and highly addictive. There was a U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that ruled that there was a significant amount of evidence that the medical benefits of marijuana do not exist. This was despite a decade of state-funded clinical trials in California that found cannabis to be promising for pain from nerve damage, spasticity and spinal cord injuries as well as boosting appetites and helps with nausea for those with cancer, AIDS or HIV.
Sunday, the weekend 420 celebration began. The activities makes marijuana appear freely available and established in contemporary American culture. Carla Lowe, a retired Sacramento teacher and counselor who also founded Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana, said 420 is promoted as party time fun and games with no regard to the potency of the mind-altering drug and what it does to children. However, Sunday’s Fyah on the Water 420 Weekend Celebration drew large crowds to Camp Pollock, Sacramento. It is a riverfront festival that includes drum circles, performance art, food, craft beer and a Prop 215 area for medical marijuana patients.
By Jeanette Smith