I may be going out on a limb here but I am guessing that to many of you 420 is just a number. Here in Manitoba, as in many other parts of the world, that number takes on a larger significance. Pronounced ” Four Twenty” it is slang the world over for Marijuana. The term comes from the supposed police code for a marijuana arrest. This however is incorrect according to various sources including the Urban Dictionary, 420 may have started out as a code word between a bunch of Californian high school students that liked to get high.
In any case, the term has become the clarion call of pot smokers everywhere to light up. Today’s date also figures into the term, April 20 or 04-20 in Canada is the day that Marijuana activists and casual users alike gather on the lawns of our houses of government to protest the continued criminalization of marijuana use.
Here in Winnipeg the scene on the legislative grounds was as always a festive event. This year a few thousand people gathered, some brightly dressed, some carrying signs, all smoking dope.
420 at Manitoba Legislature
I can hear some of you scratching your heads as you read this, thinking but Bob. Where are the police? How can this happen? All of these people breaking the law, and on public grounds no less! Well let me assure you that this year as every year the police are indeed there.
But as this youtube video taken at last year’s 420 celebration clearly shows the event is a peaceful one and because of that the cops stay clear of the huge clouds of billowing smoke and make sure that the only thing attacked on this day are Hot dog’s and Ice Cream bars!
I know that I do jest a little on the topic but suffice it to say that the police and public (in general), view this event as a non-issue. Will there be members of the population screaming for the head of the Chief of Police tomorrow? Undoubtedly, but Canadians are by in large a very tolerant open people. If the kids and the hippies want to smoke dope one day of the year and get their little protest out-of-the-way the vast majority of the public are willing to turn a blind eye.
Marijuana use in general actually hardly even gets a response from most people here anymore. Harder drugs have moved into town, crack cocaine and crystal meth. Now those hard drugs get a reaction from police and citizens groups alike.
In fact 420 has become somewhat of a joke, with radio stations playing a dope smokers play list and creating characters who tie into the day’s theme. Local radio station 92.1 citi fm, features the traffic chopper antics of “Tyrone“.
The battle is more than just symbolic though to many Canadians looking to change the laws in Canada and The United States. Marc Emery Canada’s “Prince of Pot” is scheduled to be extradited to the U.S. to serve a 5 year sentence for selling marijuana seeds via mail order to United States citizens.
His “crime” of selling seeds is perfectly legal here in Canada as the seeds are not considered usable drugs. In fact his business, was granted a government GST number and was paying tax monies to the Canadian Government on sales of the marijuana seed sales.
Regardless the Canadian Government has seen to it that he be sent for incarceration in a foreign country for doing something that is perfectly legal here. Needless to say Emery is not going down without a fight, and all avenues are being explored before his May 10, 2010 date with American Justice. His web page explains the battle to keep him from American Hands.
So people everywhere pot smoker or straight arrow, let’s all at least embrace the spirit of 420 today. May we all be mellow in each our own way.