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Black people are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana crimes than white people, according to the ACLU. Eighty-eight percent of the eight million arrests between 2001 and 2010 were for marijuana possession. In 2010, there was a marijuana arrest every 37 seconds. States spent more than $3.6 billion enforcing these laws.
Black people are arrested at a higher rate for marijuana possession than whites in 96 percent of the counties with 30,000 or more residents at least two percent are a minority.
Ben & Jerry’s ice cream has had enough of the racial disparities and is taking action. The company is partnering with the American Civil Liberties Union for this campaign. Ben & Jerry’s is pressuring Congress to change their “half-baked approach to cannabis justice.”
The 420 campaign is scheduled for social media and includes a one-click option to email Congress.
The Black and Brown community have borne the high cost of cannabis prohibition and the system of mass incarceration that it has fueled, while white men reap the financial benefits of the legalized cannabis industry. That’s why the Senate must immediately pass legislation that begins to right the wrongs of the decades-long war on drugs by legalizing cannabis and expunging records while restoring equity to the booming legal cannabis industry, according to Chris Miller, global head of activism strategy.
How Did 420 Originate?
What is 420 and why is it celebrated? In 1971, a group of California high school students met at 4:20 p.m. every day to smoke marijuana. This “code” became slang for smoking pot and the rest is history.
This group of teenagers called themselves “the Waldos” because they would meet at 4:20 p.m. to smoke marijuana by the wall of the school. This code eventually spread and was made a cultural ritual for Deadheads. The Waldos were associated with the Grateful Dead but were not considered Deadheads.
These students were not like the stoners seen in the movies. They were not lethargic and uneducated. The Waldos were athletes and one of them was a “double-honors accountant student in high school.” Others in the group were “award-winning painters and animation filmmakers.” Another student was the son of the head narcotics enforcement officer for the San Francisco Police Department. This gave the Waldos the inside scoop on search and seizure laws, according to their website.
The band of hippies was creative and enjoyed entertaining themselves with impersonations and satire. They were kind to outcasts and made an effort to be kind to everyone. The Waldos were not into politics, just good clean humor. They fit in with most cliques but focused primarily on making each other laugh. Nearly everyone was the subject of their impersonations or catchphrases, which the Waldos enjoyed ad nauseam.
Even strangers could be the subject of their satiric humor. The Waldos tested the limits of weirdness and what could be said. They would laugh at the responses received. The Waldos would use noises and vocalizations to “trip out” unsuspecting strangers. They were a likable group and made friends easily. This band of marijuana smokers was kind, friendly, and well-rounded high school students. They are still friends today.
420 and Smoking Marijuana Today
Today, 420 is celebrated like every other holiday. Dispensaries offer great deals on 420. It is celebrated by marijuana smokers around the world with large groups gathering together.
Recreational marijuana is legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia. Medically, cannabis is legal in 39 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Written by Jeanette Vietti
420 Waldos: About
High Times: The Inside Scoop on the Secret Origin of 420
Evanston Round Table: Marijuana 101: What the heck is 420?; by Debbie-Marie Brown
ACLU: REPORT: THE WAR ON MARIJUANA IN BLACK AND WHITE
Media Post: Ben & Jerry’s Ad Campaign Targets Senate, Protests ‘Half Baked’ Cannabis Laws; by Sarah Mahoney
Featured Image Courtesy of Like_the_Grand_Canyon’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Marrissa Kay – Used With Permission