By Hans Fink and James Lang
With cannabis legalization coming up for a vote in California for the first time in 37 years, flying your colors in support of cannabis this 420 Day has rarely been so important. Here’s a handful of suggestions of things to do and places to go on April 20 to show your love of the leaf.
TOP 5 ALBUMS TO MEDICATE TO ON 420 DAY
Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon
Well ahead of its time and with endless texture in its soundscapes—there’s a reason why it’s one of the best-selling albums ever.
Bob Marley’s Exodus
When you think of marijuana and music, inevitably you think of Bob Marley. His legacy lives on in Exodus, which proved to be a posthumous sleeper hit. We hope you like jammin’, too.
Stephen Marley’s Mind Control
Bob Marley had many children, several of whom grew up to be successful musicians. While Stephen Marley is one of the more overshadowed of these, Mind Control remains an intensely creative and versatile reggae album and worth a listen—several listens, actually.
Cypress Hill’s Black Sunday
The legendary Latino hip-hop outfit has produced many hits, but nothing matches the energy and back-to-back stony track listings of Black Sunday. It’s a classic album that fans of both rock and rap can enjoy.
Blakroc’s I Can Transform You
Not a marijuana-themed album by any stretch of the imagination, the awesome grooves and textures of the Black Keys—combined with an amazing line up of guest MCs—make it impossible not to lose yourself while listening to it. Add the magic green ingredient, and you have an unforgettable listening experience.
BEST 420 DVDS TO WATCH
Half Baked (1998)
A side-splittingly funny look at the many sizes, shapes and colors of cannabis smokers—Snoop Dogg’s appearance as the pothead who magically appears the moment you light up is worth the entire rental fee.
Reefer Madness (1936)
What do you call a piece of anti-marijuana propaganda that’s so astonishingly, over-the-top bad that it sent million screaming into the arms of marijuana? We call it a must-see. Play it, baby. Faster! Faster!
Up in Smoke (1978)
Quite possibly the funniest film ever made, this ground-breaking send-up by Cheech & Chong changed the public’s perception of pot (from a deadly poison to mere whacky tobacky) in just 86 screen minutes.
The Union: The Business Behind Getting High (2007)
The DVD market is nigh saturated with pro-cannabis documentaries. This one is among the best. Brett Harvey and Adam Scorgie pull back the curtain on British Columbia’s pot trade, from the farmers and bud tenders all the way to consumers in the U.S.
The Untouchables (1987):
Nowhere in this thrilling gangster tale by director Brian De Palma is marijuana so much as mentioned. So why watch it on 420 Day? Because it perfectly captures the chaos, hypocrisy and corruptive nature of America’s other ill-considered experiment with prohibition—the 18th Amendment, which banned alcohol and opened the door for Al Capone.
BEST PLACES TO GO ON 420 DAY
Griffith Observatory’s Samuel Oschin Planetarium: Back in the day, the Laserium show at L.A.’s historic Griffith Observatory was the venue for tilting your head back and watching your sensimilla dreams come alive. That particular trip is no more, but the observatory’s newly renovated Samuel Oschin Planetarium is alive and kicking with mind-ripping shows beamed up every 60 to 90 minutes. Visit www.GriffithObservatory.org for more info.
The Huntington: There are just so many things to do and see at this world-renowned cultural Mecca in San Marino (near Pasadena) that you probably won’t get through it all in a single day. We suggest you start your 420 Day with a stroll through the heartbreakingly beautiful botanical gardens, enjoy a light but satisfying lunch in the tea room and then continue your journey of personal enrichment by enjoying one of the most venerated art and library collections on the planet. Go to www.TheHuntington.org for hours, admission prices and other info.
Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden: What better way to celebrate nature’s great gift than in the presence of nature’s other great gifts? The L.A. Arboretum in Arcadia is one of the region’s best-kept secrets, with 127 acres of lovingly cultivated wonders to discover and explore—including the Mayberg Waterfall, Grace Kallam Perennial Garden and Queen Anne Cottage. Smoking is forbidden on the grounds, so choose your medication method accordingly. Find out more at www.Arboretum.org.
Huntington City Beach: There once was a time when cannabis lovers could gather round the fire rings that sprinkle Surf City’s 3.5-mile stretch of public beach and celebrate 420 Day straight through to 421 Day. Times have changed—a 10 p.m. curfew is strictly enforced and smoking and drinking are now verboten. But the fire rings are still there (make sure to arrive early to stake one out), and nearby Main Street offers innumerable options for having fun besides just kicking back on the sand. Check out www.ci.huntington-beach.ca.us for more info.
Disneyland: While only the most confused cannabis enthusiast would consider walking about Disneyland with a joint (there really is a working jail cell in the Magic Kingdom, though officials prefer to call it a “holding area”), this is the place for which edibles were made. Trust us: You’ve never seen funny until you’ve seen Critter Country and Mickey’s Toontown while medicated. Just remember—this is a family destination, so be respectful to others.
BEST TV SHOWS TO TIVO ON 420 DAY
Weeds: While not exactly a pro-cannabis comedy (the herb often seems to cause the show’s main characters more problems than it solves), this Showtime hit does proceed from the theory that everyone smokes pot. Since 2005, Weeds has touched on just about every major issue confronting Southern California’s cannabis industry, including the importance of not hiring a vulgar pot fiend with zero redeeming qualities (played with relish by Kevin Nealon) as your dispensary partner.
Entourage: Marijuana may cause nothing but headaches for the characters on Weeds, but it brings nothing but good times and sweet relief for A-list actor Vincent Chase (played by Adrian Grenier) and his crew in this smash series by HBO. Cannabis is a constant prop on Entourage, but rarely is it a given episode’s main focus—the young stars smoke it recreationally, and then go on about their business. Its realistic portrayal of recreational pot smoking makes it a must-see on 420 Day.
That ‘70s Show: Sadly defunct but widely available in syndication, this zany sitcom from Fox never showed characters actually smoking pot. Instead, episodes feature the hilarious device of tracking a circle of stoned-out teens—from the point of view of the bong in the middle of the circle. It’s the perfect metaphor for America’s attitude toward cannabis in the ‘70s, when everyone was lighting up but few were willing to admit there was anything going on.
South Park: Merciless in its treatment of sacred cows and fearless in its choice of subject matter, South Park is never funnier than when it trots out Towelie, the adorable bioengineered towel that simply can’t stop getting high (“God, I have no idea what I’m doing.”). It’s even funnier when we’re reminded that Towelie was manufactured by the U.S. government.
American Idol: Between what we want from this Fox talent show (watching contestants perform and get voted on or off the show) and when we actually get what we want is a vast sea of dullness, from endless product endorsements to ‘70s-style variety acts that were out of fashion even in the ‘70s. Fortunately, we have medical marijuana to help make getting through all the tedium that much easier.
…And finally, Four Good Ways to Wind Down Your 420 Day
Four words – Ding Dongs and milk: Nowhere in all of creation are two food items more perfectly suited for satisfying the munchies than a box of Hostess Ding Dongs (frozen, if possible – if not, room temperature) and a half-gallon of ice-cold milk.
Re-read The Emperor Wears No Clothes: The book that exposed the truth of how and why cannabis was criminalized in the U.S. remains a fast and fascinating read. It’s the perfect way to cap your 420 Day.
Write a letter to a friend in need: In the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex, about 175 miles northwest of Los Angeles, sits Federal Inmate No. 90157-011 – otherwise known as cannabis advocate Charles “Eddy” Lepp. Eddy, who isn’t scheduled for release until 2018, would love to hear from you –and can be reached by writing: Charles Edward Lepp, No. 90157-011, FCI Lompoc, Federal Correctional Institution, 3600 Guard Road, Lompoc, CA 93436
Plan your next big 420 Day celebration: It’s never too early to get a jump on the festivities.
CO Bill to Allow Schools the Choice to Let Student Patients Medicate
Colorado has been struggling with the issue of medical cannabis in schools ever since cannabis was first legalized in the state for medical use. Schools fear a loss of federal funding if they allow cannabis treatment for sick students, since the plant is still federally illegal, while parents, advocates and patients fight for patient access so that students can get relief. This month, cannabis patients won a major victory, as medicating with cannabis will now be allowed in Colorado public schools under a newly passed bill.
According to The Denver Post, House Bill 1373 requires treatment rights for patients, but allows schools to be able to choose where the patients can medicate, and what forms of cannabis they can use. Representative Jonathan Singer, the Democrat from Longmont who supported the bill, claims that schools who do not put such a policy into action are leaving it up to parents and students to choose how and where medication can take place.
The recent bill passed 10-3 in the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee, showing an overwhelming support for children being able to medicate on school property.
“It forces a conversation,” Singer told The Denver Post regarding the bill, “that we were hoping would be a voluntary conversation.”
This bill works to help patients gain access, since the currently existing bill, allowing medication only if schools create a program, has not been successful. So far, no schools have implemented such a program, so until now, no medical cannabis users have been able to imbibe on school property.
“It’s kind of exciting that they are finally going to let it in after fighting this for five years trying to get children their meds in schools,” explained Shan Moore, the father of Chaz Moore, who fought and struggled while in school to be able to use medical cannabis.
“I do think it’s great—it’s just a little late for my kid,” he added. “Chaz stopped going to school before graduating. He would get sick, not be able to take his meds in school, and got tired of playing that game, and when he went to try and get his GED the same thing happened, since those classes take place in schools as well. So maybe now he’ll be able to get his GED and make something happen. He tried the online schools, but he doesn’t learn well online—he really needs to be there in person.”
Moore hopes that maybe with this new bill in place, his son will be able to medicate in schools, and therefore take the GED and continue his education. Like Chaz Moore, many Colorado children desire an education, but struggle to work and focus because they can’t get the medicine they need. Hopefully with this new bill in place, students who need medicine will be able to receive relief so they can focus on learning.
Colorado passes Ordinance to Implement a Cannabis Odor Regulation
At first glance, odor regulations seem like something out of a cartoon or children’s book, but here in Denver they are very real.
According to The Denver Post, Denver City council is concerned about the offensive to some, pleasant to others, aroma that is omitted from dispensaries and other cannabis operations, and recently passed an ordinance to crack down tighter on odors.
While the city has been debating back and forth about how they should treat the expiring moratorium on cannabis businesses, they quickly decided in favor of the odor ordinance. If this passes this month, then this new rule will be officially approved and enforceable by the local Health Department. This new regulation would mean that businesses can file odor complaints, not just private citizens. Then, if a dispensary receives five complaints, they would have 30 days to clean up their act and fix the odor issue before they receive an inspection.
Cannabis businesses and advocates are not happy about this new complication, and are speaking out against the arbitrary nature of regulating odors.
“The only thing that can be done is air filtration to ensure that odors are mitigated through carbon scrubbers,” explained Mark Slaugh, Executive Director of the Cannabis Business Alliance, in an exclusive interview with CULTURE. “The ‘problem’ is not the odor per se, since obnoxious odors aren’t outright prohibited or regulated for other businesses with strong scents. The problem is the prejudice giving rise to complaints in the first place and over-reactionary ordinances that unfairly target cannabis businesses and don’t apply equally to other Denver businesses with obnoxious odors.”
Slaugh further argues that the cannabis industry is bringing needed change to the city, and should not be slighted for something as minor as strong odors.
“The cannabis industry is primarily responsible for producing economic benefits for once poor and decaying neighborhoods which the industry improved,” he added. “These areas were once stagnant, filled with commercially abandoned warehouses that eventually became cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facilities. The city of Denver has required the industry to improve the landscape around those buildings and they have truly begun transforming these neighborhoods.”
“Now, the industry is being targeted under this odor ordinance and under the moratorium as the ‘problem’ of these areas when, in fact, they are the pioneers of neighborhood renovation and a major factor in the rise of tourism and people moving to Denver post-legalization,” he continued. “It would seem that the City council wants to kick out and limit the very pioneers who created a settlement in the first place, all in the name of continued development and gentrification of the neighborhoods cannabis businesses have increased their value in and call home.”
Even some of the City council members are skeptical that this new ordinance will be a good way to fix the problem.
“When you begin to saturate and when you begin to concentrate (businesses), there’s no odor ordinance that can identify where this is coming from,” Albus Brooks, a local Councilman, told The Denver Post. “And I’ve never seen a council so sure of a bill that hasn’t even come through committee yet.”
While there is no doubt that some measures should be taken to ensure dispensaries and grows contain there odors, many seem opposed to this new, somewhat draconian, odor ordinance proposal. A final decision will be reached this month.
Government Begins Rethinking Scheduling of Cannabis
There is currently a petition to the FDA in progress that calls the federal government to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act’s Schedule I list, which holds the plant in the same category as hard drugs such as methamphetamine or heroin. Although medical cannabis, and now even recreational cannabis, is legal in Oregon, it still is not recognized as legal by the federal government. The Feds also don’t recognize it as officially serving a medical purpose.
The Controlled Substances Act has very strict criteria for how to classify the drugs on its Schedule I list, and there are many people who think that after many recent studies, cannabis simply doesn’t meet that criteria. To be placed on the list in the first place, a drug not only has to have a high potential for abuse, but it also has to have no medical uses, and be considered unsafe. The fiction of these statements in reference to cannabis is now widely known. A few very recent studies have proved the effectiveness of treating seizures in children with cannabis oil. The people are basically calling the government out and saying, let’s rethink the way we think about cannabis. To get cannabis removed from the Schedule I list, there has to be a petition placed with the Drug Enforcement Administration. There have been many attempts to get cannabis removed from this list in the past. Since 1972, petitions to the DEA have been denied. This time, however, the DEA has requested the Food and Drug Administration to perform a study to see if the classification of cannabis really should be different.
Supporters of the reclassification of cannabis claim that once the plant is no longer controlled by the federal government, federal spending that was once used to enforce cannabis laws and process offenders through the criminal justice system can be reallocated to more important things like education. They also argue that the U.S. government could make tons of revenue on the taxation and regulation of the cannabis industry. We already know this to be true in Oregon, where the state government collected nearly 3.5 million dollars of revenue after only its first month of recreational sales.
The reclassification of cannabis, and its removal from the Controlled Substance Act’s Schedule I list, could mean big changes for Oregonians. It would first of all make a huge difference in the way we think about cannabis locally, and nationally. The stigmas that surround cannabis that are already starting to melt away will soon be gone completely. Secondly, medical growers and dispensary owners will start to face less opposition when trying to operate and run their businesses. Not constantly looking over their shoulder for the Feds. Our state government would finally be in agreement with the federal government, and Oregonians will no longer be breaking federal law when they smoke or sell cannabis. This would create big changes in the eyes of the Oregon State police and court system, and the way they deal with cannabis users.
The DEA has remained pretty silent about their upcoming decision, and their study with the FDA. It has been projected that they will be making a decision by mid-year. Hopefully the U.S. Government can finally recognize what Oregon and many other states already have about the medical benefits of cannabis.
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