Spring in the USA means better weather, the start of the baseball season and of course, Cannabis Celebration Season. Maybe the government doesn’t recognize such a holiday season – yet – but regardless, from April 20th through early May, the virtues of marijuana are toasted as the idiocies of the war on drug are roasted all across America.
There are two primary days that celebrate and politicize cannabis – the ‘high holiday’ of 4/20 and the first Saturday in May, which this year happens to be the latest date on the calendar it can possibly be – Saturday May 7 – but hey, that just means more time to celebrate!
The biggest 4/20 rally in 2011 will appropriately be held in the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the 420inDC organization, this year’s rally has been dubbed “Overgrow the Government.”
Among the gathering’s goals is to have a million supporters, hemp farmers and protesters gather together to march in Washington mutually protesting pot prohibition. The starting location is TBA (see Web site below for more info) but will end at The Capitol Building’s stairs. The march will start at 10 a.m. and run throughout the day.
420inDC also seeks to create greater exposure to shed light on three crucial bills wafting through Congress at present. First, H.R. 2943, the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2009, which would eliminate penalties for possession of an ounce. H.R. 2835, the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, which would legalize medical marijuana and change the legal status of pot from a Schedule 1 drug (no accepted medical use) to Schedule II (some accepted medical use). Third, the Truth in Trials act, which would allow defendants to mention medical marijuana in federal trials involving medical marijuana, a right they currently do not have.
Speakers at 420inDC will include Jessica Corry, a Denver-based attorney and outspoken conservative opposed to pot prohibition who has appeared on FOX News, along with her husband Robert Corry, the widely respected civil rights and criminal defense attorney. Also set to speak at the rally is medical marijuana patient Brett Strauss, who convinced Colorado doctors to provide free visits for patients with life-threatening illnesses. Representing the East Coast will be Donald Christen, tireless marijuana and medi-pot activist from Maine.
San Francisco’s annual 4/20 celebration in Golden Gate Park is always worth checking out if you’re in the City by the Bay on that magical day. Stroll through historic Haight-Ashbury and then into the park’s Hippie Hill, where stoners of all cultures come together in one of America’s most diverse cities. And with some of the finest weed in the world being smoked from the top to the bottom of Hippie Hill, the contact high alone is worth the trip. Also, many of San Francisco’s medical marijuana dispensaries will be having 4/20 specials, including free giveaways and prizes for legal patients.
After California, Colorado is the most prominent pot state in America and it should surprise no one there is an annual 4/20 Rally in Denver’s Civic Center Park from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The theme for 2011 is “No Colors, No Violence” in an attempt to bring together divergent members of the community (i.e. opposing gangs) with the common goal of celebrating pot. Their goal is to draw 100,000. Ironically, while speakers from Denver will be in D.C. on 4/20, the Denver rally will have a speaker from D.C., John Pylka, former HIGH TIMES “Freedom Fighter of the Month” and founder of the Fourth of July Hemp Coalition among other activist groups.
The 4/20 celebration in New York City should prove particularly noteworthy this year, given the shocking statistic released in February by the legalization advocacy organization Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), that there were more marijuana possession arrests in New York City in 2010 than for the years 1978-1996 combined. 50,383 people were popped in NYC for pot in ‘10, by comparison only 49,326 total were arrested for pot from ‘78-’96, a 19-year period. The DPA suggested the NYPD has surreptitiously made marijuana enforcement their top priority over the past two decades. The current mayoral tenure of Michael Bloomberg has been particularly harsh on stoners, with 350,000 busted since 2002.
Rev. Jay Goldstein of Empire State NORML said he and other cannabis activists will wake and bake early to head down to 30 Rockefeller Plaza to be part of NBC’s The Today Show crowd on the morning of 4/20, where many will hold up attention-getting signs like TOKERS FOR ROKER, a reference to Today Show weatherman Al Roker.
Then many of their group will be jetting off to Denver, as one of the major events that bridges 4/20 with the May 7 celebrations takes place in Colorado’s capital city from April 21-23. That’s when the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) will hold their historic 40th annual national conference. Denver being so ‘pot-friendly’ was an obvious factor in NORML’s decision to select the Mile High City.
This year’s conference theme is aptly titled “Coming of Age,” and speakers will include Dr. Lester Grinspoon and US Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) who has publicly called for Congress to end the war on drugs. Also in late April, there will be a public fundraiser held in the Bay Area to fund the court case of Lynette Shaw, currently battling the IRS.
If taking the 4/20 party late into the night is your bag, then head West young stoner, to Missoula, in the Big Sky state of Montana, the one that’s seen an unfortunate share of medical marijuana headlines as of late with federal raids of pot dispensaries. At the Stensrud Building there will be a “420 Potluck” from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. featuring Montana medical marijuana caregivers speaking, live bands, DJ’s to dance to, and of course plenty of munchies to either satiate or perhaps give you more munchies.
Marijuana is such a force in America that the celebrations do not end on 4/20; the first Saturday in May has been established for three decades now as the date the world commences the Global Marijuana March (GMM). This is the day marijuana marches and rallies are held across the globe; GMM is the political face of the pot celebration season, as opposed to more party-oriented 4/20 festivities.
Hundreds of cities (with the goal being 420 cities to officially celebrate, naturally) from over sixty nations spanning six continents will participate in the 2011 GMM, from Aberdeen, Scotland to Venado Tuerto, Argentina, from Kiev, Ukraine to Wellington, New Zealand.
At press time, the details of the parade path for New York City’s GMM were still being ironed out by activist group Cures Not Wars along with Rev Goldstein and Empire State NORML. Rev Goldstein said they would be marching through Washington Square Park and Battery Park, encouraging all participants to bring snacks of their own personal preference and to not smoke pot in public. They employed the same strategy at last year’s 4/20 celebration at Union Square Park and not only were there zero arrests, but Rev Goldstein reported the cops got so bored they left early!
Some GMM celebrations in the US will be held earlier in the day, such as at high noon in Chicago at the Federal Plaza and in Kansas City, where marijuana activists will protest and march through the JC Nichols Fountain on the Plaza. While in Atlanta, the GMM at Freedom Park commences at 4 p.m., just in time for 4:20. In Cleveland, the noon march is from Public Square to Justice Center. Conspiracy theorists will appreciate the Dallas march, which runs through the famed Grassy Knoll.
Check out the links below for more info on 4/20 and the Global Marijuana March. And don't forget to tell us where your favorite 4/20 rally is taking place in the comments section.