From San Francisco’s Hippie Hill to the streets of New York City, At 4:20 on April 20th, we the community of cannabis consumers celebrate our hard-fought freedoms – whether present-day realities or dreams for the future. And let’s be honest – we have plenty to celebrate. So much, in fact, that only one day of celebration isn’t enough. While 4/20 is nothing short of awesome, cannabis freedom should be celebrated year-round. Time for an observance schedule for the legalization age; here are the top candidates.
As we near the 20th anniversary of the historic ballot initiative which legalized the medical use of cannabis for California patients in 1996, it has become increasingly apparent that the initiative – Proposition 215 – has turned out to be one of the most significant events in U.S. cannabis history. Once the political conversation about marijuana – previously dominated by talk of the gateway theory and amotivational syndrome (remember that?) – had shifted to the ways that its therapeutic benefits could ease the lives of patients, the cruel calculus of the drug war was already on the wane. Now, 22 sister states and the District of Columbia have followed the lead of California voters and implemented medical laws of their own. Given the avalanche of reform set off by a dedicated group of activists selling an idea considered more or less insane by the national mainstream, 2/15 has earned its own special day.
5/02 & 6/4
If California activists deserve a day of celebration for their pioneering initiative, so, too, do the people of Washington and Colorado. They made history in their own right with the passage of the first adult use legalization laws since the first wave of pot prohibitions began in 1913. Initiative 502 and Amendment 64, passed by voters on Election Day in 2012, changed the national debate over cannabis no less dramatically than the early initiatives for medical marijuana did in the ’90s. For some activists, it was about ending cruelty and systemic racism; for others, it was about the creation of jobs which can’t be moved overseas and badly-needed tax revenues; for others still, the vote was about simple honesty – responsible adult consumers who would rather enjoy their freedoms out of principle than feigning back pain to get their “red card” or join a “collective garden.” Whatever their reasons, these pioneering voters took the whole nation a huge step forward – and for that, they deserve our thanks and remembrance on 5/02 and 6/4.
While its fame has been largely overshadowed by the earlier successes in Colorado and Washington state, the ballot question which legalized noncommercial use of cannabis in Washington, D.C. may prove an even bigger game-changer in the long run. The Yes on 71 campaign was historic and not just because it legalized the adult use of cannabis within mere yards from the U.S. Capitol and White House. It was also significant how the campaign was run and the ways Congress chose to react.
The message of the campaign was new: instead of focusing on jobs or tax revenues or strict controls, the radio spots and mass mailings of the 71 team focused like a laser on issues of social justice, pointing to the sad and shocking racial disparities in the ways cannabis prohibitions are enforced and the resulting broken communities and eroded trust of police. Thus, instead of promoting a law which would create legal business opportunities, Initiative 71 ushered in a policy of “noncommercial legalization” in which any adult over 21 may cultivate, possess and give away cannabis – so long as they don’t sell it. The people of the national capital passed the initiative by a landslide 70 percent in 2014.
A significant as that landslide vote may be, the split reaction from a Republican Congress had an even greater effect. Some power-grubbing politicians in the GOP, notably Andy Harris of Maryland, tried to block the will of the people at all costs. The more principled wing of the party realized that abusing their position in the federal government to overrule the clear will of the people in the District would undercut the very ideas of limited government and liberty upon which their ideology is founded. With six out of 10 young Republicans now favoring full legalization, we can thank the dedicated D.C. activists who forced the GOP’s hand with their blowout win. So, light one up on 7/1 to honor a game-changing campaign.
By 2013, there were already some California consumers who had made a tradition of celebrating their love of “710” (read it upside-down) by dabbing their hearts (and presumably their minds) out every July 10th at 7:10 on the dot. Thus, take this date not so much as an exhortation as a play-by-play; 7/10’s huge and it’s only going huger.
Standard warnings apply, however: if you’ve never dabbed before and want to try it, make sure you inform whomever is administering the dab that it’s your first time so they can hook you up with a tiny little bit. It’s very easy to overdo your first dab, so play it smart.
Oregon has voted in a new set of laws set to make the Beaver State the most sensibly regulated cannabis economy in the world. Measure 91 is a breath of fresh air among “legalizations” which treat a natural plant product like weapon-grade plutonium. The measure will institute some common sense regulations to ensure quality control and inventory tracking. But, its true virtues lie in its protections for small businesses, which can avail themselves of special, lightly-taxed and lightly-regulated licenses which give them a little help competing against any large corporations which might try to corner the market.
Organic, artisanal cannabis, grown by family farms and delivered to the adult connoisseur – isn’t that what we’ve been fighting for, all along? If you agree, light one up on 9/1.
What holidays do you celebrate with cannabis? Tell us about it in the comments below.