4/20 Perspectives

In Boulder, April flowers not only bring May showers, but also clouds of marijuana smoke over the Norlin Library Quad on 4/20 at 4:20 p.m. Though this event attracts a large group, reactions and views are mixed.

Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Washington, D.C., released a letter on 4/20 in 2010, where he referred to these nationwide smoke-outs as “protestivals” happening across the country.

“These protestivals and public celebrations of cannabis culture in North America is a greatly anticipated and celebratory annual event at NORML since the mid 1990s,” St. Pierre wrote.

Mikaela Madalinski, a 20-year-old junior environmental studies major, said she has attended the CU event for the past two years but never participated. Madalinski said her understanding of the event is similar with St. Pierre’s “protestival” labeling.

“It’s a peaceful protest where everyone has a common agreement that marijuana should be legalized,” Madalinski said.

Camden Johnson, a 20-year-old sophomore philosophy major, said that he disagrees with the protest perspective.

“You can say there’s something beyond it, but I can also say there’s a higher level to me making a sandwich,” Johnson said. “Its base function is that it’s about getting high.”

CU Spokesperson Bronson Hilliard said that if 4/20 really is a peaceful protest, there are more university-appropriate methods of making this statement.

“If the point of it is to question drug laws and marijuana laws, then why do we need to light up to demonstrate that?” Hilliard said. “Let’s have debate and discussion. Let’s have a week of seminars about federal drugs laws. That is the kind of thing that needs to go on in the university.”

Hilliard said he feels the student body doesn’t realize the negative impact of the 4/20 events on the university’s image, despite his estimation that students make up 20 percentage of attendees.

Outside of the image problem, Cmdr. Tim McGraw of the CU Police Department said the 4/20 event presents many health and safety concerns.

“Essentially what we’re doing is looking at life, health and safety issues,” McGraw said. “When you get that large of a crowd, there are a variety of situations that come up.”

People considering attending a future 4/20 celebration at CU should be advised that no marijuana, medical or otherwise, is permitted on the CU campus, and tickets were issued at the 2010 event.

Mitch Harris, a 19-year-old sophomore majoring in applied mathematics, was issued a consumption of marijuana ticket at noon on 4/20 in 2010. Harris said his ticketing was not useful in creating this safe environment.

“It was definitely not necessary and I don’t think it accomplished anything,” Harris said. “For that day, it’s not supposed to be about prosecuting people smoking, but just keeping everyone safe. That is definitely not what happened.”
Published to CUindependent.com on 4/20/2011.

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