Colorado legalized marijuana recently; you may have heard about it. The massive crime waves that were predicted have yet to emerge, and the pot shops have brought in tax revenue; overall, I think it’s been a great success. Even though I don’t smoke, I watched several friends struggle through the agony of chemotherapy, and I so wish they had had marijuana available to them. Moreover, I don’t see the purpose of jailing people for something as small as marijuana, overcrowding the prison and letting the violent offenders go free. The overall view of marijuana legalization has been quite positive among the people here.
There are a few rules about marijuana, of course–you can’t smoke it in public, quantities are limited, and if you drive after using it, it’s the same as a DUI. And while you can’t actively smoke it in public, you can definitely tell who has been smoking it.
Denver had its first “legal” 4/20 festival this past weekend. We didn’t go to it, but we went to 16th Street Mall, which runs down the middle of downtown Denver, and was relatively close by. The mall has stores on both sides, trolleys running down the center, and between the tracks, a wide swath of concrete with pianos, chessboards, and benches for hanging out. A great many people were in the mood for celebrating. Large clusters of happy people sat in circles, and even though they weren’t actively smoking, the smell was in the air.
As we walked down the length of the mall, people were dressed overwhelmingly in green and the dispensaries were decked in balloons. Several people were carrying signs that read, “Sparijuana?” (Or my favorite, “Please donate to marijuana research; test subject available.”) People were in an overall silly mood, and while the police presence was heavy, nothing happened that was particularly unusual.
One of my favorite sights that day was in the center of the mall. A large Mennonite choir had set up there and was singing Easter hymns, while others handed out CDs. They were quite talented and we listened for awhile. A large group dressed in green sat down nearby, dancing unobtrusively with the music. Whenever they finished a song, the 4/20 group would erupt into polite but enthusiastic applause. The choir seemed amused, and during the breaks, listened to the group sing their own song, returning the applause.
One of the people passing by commented to one of the Mennonite men, “Kind of a weird mix, isn’t it?”
The man shrugged, smiled, and said, “It’s wonderful that everyone is in such high spirits!”
He was absolutely right.