April 20 marks 420 day, a day to celebrate cannabis culture and push for cannabis legalization.
Recent 420 Days have taken on a celebratory feel with a handful of states, including Washington, legalizing cannabis for recreational use.
That happy feeling could soon go up in smoke, as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is opposed to marijuana legalization. Sessions said last year that good people don’t smoke cannabis and called it a “very real danger.”
The question is, what will Sessions do? Will he enforce federal drug laws, which are at odds with states like Washington where marijuana is legal? Or will he make noise about it, but direct law-enforcement efforts elsewhere?
Earlier this month, Sessions directed Department of Justice attorneys to evaluate marijuana-enforcement policies and draft recommendations. If he chooses to go after states with diverging laws he will be going against popular opinion.
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Support for cannabis is climbing. A recent Gallup poll found that 60 percent of Americans favor legalization. Cannabis is legal in eight states and 28 states allow medical marijuana.
Under the Obama administration, the Department of Justice was moving toward the position of the majority of Americans when the DOJ said in 2018 it wouldn’t intervene with recreational drug laws in Washington. But the federal government lists cannabis as a Schedule I drug, same as heroin. Cocaine and methamphetamine are Schedule II drugs.
In The Cannabist, the site’s founding editor Ricardo Baca writes a 420 Day Op-Ed suggesting how and why Sessions could educate himself:
“If Sessions does his research, via Google or his colleagues at the National Institutes of Health, he can escape his anachronistic worldview and gain respect among Americans. As alcohol and opioids kill more than 100,000 Americans each year, cannabis kills none.
Marijuana needs to be regulated safely, yes – but also sanely. And the more Sessions learns about this devastatingly misunderstood plant, the more he’ll be able to thoughtfully and fairly govern.”
As cannabis has gained more legal acceptance at the state level, it is also becoming less taboo. Traditional news outlets write about cannabis in ways unthinkable a decade ago.
The Denver Post created The Cannabist, a website devoted to covering the topic. At The Seattle Times, reporters are assigned to cover the legalization process and our Cannabis Culture page provides everything from recipes to stories about how recreational marijuana is playing out in people’s lives. Late-night shows, like John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight,” are taking up the cause of legalization.
Still, there is fun to be had despite the policy questions swirling around this year’s 420 Day. The Stranger has a comprehensive list of 420 Day events and Rolling Stone has a list of the best albums to listen to while getting high.