(I've edited this post a little. It originally included a chart about the economic benefits of legalizing marijuana.The chart was added at the request of someone I hadn't heard from before, but the information seemed interesting enough, so I built the following post around it. But on second thoughts, there are just enough unknowns about the whole thing that I've decide I'd rather not put in a link to a website that is a bit puzzling to me. The discussion in the comment field had very little to do with the chart anyway, but I'm sure you can Google the chart if you miss it.)
This is pretty funny. A week or so ago, I got an email asking if I would be willing to look at and possibly post a chart done by her team about the benefits of legalizing marijuana. I don't know a whole lot about this group, but it was different from the product placement type of request that I occasionally get here (and always decline). I liked the graphic that she wanted me to link to, but I wasn't really sure how to fit this all in here. You know the drill, folks--the regular gimmick here is that I don't know something, or feel unsure about what I know and then go dig into it a little and report back my findings. That doesn't immediately translate into a graphic assembled by others. And though I said I wouldn't mind publicizing their research here, it all seemed a bit forced.
But then last night I was at a party, and someone reminded me that today was 4/20. Even though I have heard of the date before, I am not insider enough to have it engraved on my brain that this is the big 'marijuana holiday'. This is the kind of holiday Santa Cruz really gets behind. The tradition, although personally I don't know how long it's been a tradition for, is that students and others head up to the Porter College Meadow to, uh, celebrate pot in some way. The police turn a blind eye unless things get completely out of hand. Which doesn't seem all that likely to happen....
Personally, I'm not a huge fan of marijuana. I don't really like its effect, either on myself or people I'm attempting to interact with. I don't mind the smell, but the stale marijuana smell that lingered in the halls of the last place I lived in bugged the hell out of me. I mention this only to show that, though I am far from being a stereotypic Santa Cruz stoner, I think it is completely absurd to criminalize this drug. A lot of unnecessary tragedy has resulted from treating cannabis, which undeniably has beneficial uses, as something worse than alcohol. Personally, I like alcohol. That doesn't mean that I think it deserves a status superior to pot. And we all know what happened with Prohibition. Don't we?
(To make up for the lack of the chart, I am adding this research I did on the whole beginnings of 4/20, which I dug into in response to Julie's comment below. Frankly, it's more what I do here anyway.)
Although at first I thought the origins of 4/20 would be obscured by rumor and legend, both Wikipedia and Snopes.com say there is a specific if unlikely source--it it all started in San Rafael, California in 1971. It was just a time designation that 12 high school kids used as a code for when they would meet up to smoke. Wikipedia says that the original code was "420 Louis", which meant to meet by a statue of Louis Pasteur. It also says that originally they were meeting not to smoke but to search for a rumored abandoned pot crop. It also suggests that the lingo spread from San Rafael courtesy of the wandering fans of the Grateful Dead.