Fans of marijuana have long marked April 20 as a day to roll weed or munch on pot-laced brownies, and call for increased legal access to it. This year’s celebrations throughout the U.S. come amid loosening of marijuana restrictions and increasing tolerance for the plant’s use from Alaska to Massachusetts.
Today, April 20 or 4/20, is embraced by marijuana smokers nationwide as a celebration of cannabis culture. By and large, observance has remained underground given pot’s classification as an illegal substance by federal law. This year, though, things have changed, with voters in Colorado and Washington deciding in 2012 to decriminalize marijuana within state borders.
In Maryland, lawmakers opted not to decriminalize pot, but the General Assembly authorized a medical marijuana program. In recent years, Baltimore prosecutors have been easing up on marijuana possession penalties. (For contrast’s sake, D.C.’s first medical marijuana dispensary is set to open this month.)
A state ballot measure legalizing marijuana for recreational use passed Nov. 6 in both Colorado and Washington state, in what might be the biggest statement of the 2012 Election aside from President Obama’s re-election and same-sex marriage.
In Colorado, the new amendment would allow adults 21 and older to legally purchase one ounce of marijuana as soon as the end of the month, while in Washington voters approved the selling and taxing of small amounts of marijuana-related products to adults beginning Dec. 6. A similar initiative was rejected in Oregon.
Despite opposing the measure himself, Colorado’s governor John Hickenlooper released a statement Tuesday night saying that “This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug so don’t break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly.” In a KUOW radio interview Nov. 7, Washington governor Chris Gregoire also expressed concern about federal reactions saying that “The jury is out on what happens. Meanwhile, my job as governor is to do what the people of the state of Washington have said they want done.”