As most of us expected, the 4/20 annual marijuana smokeout occurred uneventfully yesterday with thousands gathered peacefully in a sun-drenched Denver Park, to the rhythms of trip-hop music played through booming speakers. Perhaps a third or more were tourist MJ users, who made the pilgrimage to Denver to partake of legalized weed (though, technically, it isn't supposed to be used out in the open - only in your little domicile.).
As of 5 p.m. Sunday, Denver police had written only 47 marijuana-consumption citations. On Saturday, they issued 22 pot tickets. Though signs warned against smoking out in the open and organizers instructed people not to puff up, the predictable cloud of marijuana smoke arose like clockwork at 4:20 p.m Sunday. Clearly, the laws that specifically forbid pot smoking in the park were not being enforced, and even the normally staid Denver Post proclaimed: "And that is how it should be at a pot rally with tens of thousands of people." Indeed!
Despite the rising MJ mushroom puff cloud, the world didn't stop, the crowd didn't suddenly become a riotous mass of stoners, nor did they mutate into mass murdering zombies - as some hysterical voices predicted. (This, after a father of three shot and killed his wife in a tony Denver suburb three days ago, after consuming marijuana candy. More on this below). Nor did masses of the stoned climb up to the top of buildings and dive off. (This was forecast after an African college student consumed a whole MJ cookie a few weeks ago and jumped off a four story landing.)
Short of mayhem and suicide, the Nervous Nellies fretted that the nation's press would flock to the rally and photos from the big smoke-out would become the iconic image of Denver as they circulated around the web and the 24/7 cable world.. But lo and behold, Denver did not become a laughingstock and police didn't barge into the crowd to write $150 citations to anyone and everyone they could nab.
By all accounts this first major smoke out since Amendment 64 passed went even better than the most optimistic could forecast. The event, originally heralded as a rally for marijuana rights, was really a celebration. Activists numbered among the crowd and they still believe there are matters to protest surrounding pot, even with legalization (such as whether Colo. employers can fire workers who smoke MJ on their own time, and whether landlords can prohibit it). But few who came to the park on Saturday and Sunday seemed to have activism in mind. This was a victory dance and one that will be taken note of in other U.S. cities.
"Give us this one day," said Lily Berryman, 18, of Fort Collins, who sported marijuana leaf sunglasses.
"Weed smokers aren't the type to get up all in your face," she said. "We do it at home or behind closed doors. So we just want this one day to smoke and have fun."
This may well be so but issues still need to be dealt with in terms of MJ content standardization, especially of edibles like cookies and candies. Also, more high profile warnings need to be made about mixing pot edibles with prescription drugs. This came to light after a 44 year old mother of three was shot in the head several days ago even while she was on the phone to 911 reporting her husband's aberrant behavior.
Her husband had not long before purchased a bag of MJ candies and gobbled them down, despite having taken a powerful pain killer earlier. Suddenly he went into hallucination mode - thought he saw "demons", and begged his wife to take the gun from his hand and shoot him. We don't know exactly what he saw but it's a good bet the mixture of drugs, THC and his weapon didn't add up to anything pleasant. Suddenly, as his wife reported to 911 he was pointing the gun at her, and he fired it. Since that incident, shrill warnings have erupted about MJ's dangers ....and maybe legalization wasn't such a great idea after all.
Which, of course, is nonsense, since the same thing could have occurred had the guy downed a fifth of Bourbon and mixed it with the same drugs. But when these alcohol-related incidents occur you barely hear about them,
The other aspect that needs to be addressed is the matter of standardizing potency of all edibles, in terms of the active MJ component, THC. For example, the African college student had come to Colorado to partake of an edible MJ cookie, with his mates. He (and they) were warned by the store proprietor that each cookie contained 6 1/2 servings - based on the active component, THC. Hence, they were advised to break each cookie into six pieces and consume only one piece at a time. The college student instead took the whole cookie back to his room and gobbled it. (He had claimed he felt no effects, so kept on eating -not waiting for the effects to surface). He was unable to sleep properly and then at some point, awakened and jumped out his fourth floor hotel window.
Both these incidents are sad, and never should have happened. But they don't prove that Amendment 64 was a bad law, or that MJ stores ought to now be shuttered and banned. What they do show is that people need to show more discretion in their consumption of these products, and those who make them need to take more care to ensure the same amount of THC in an MJ cookie, is also disclosed in an MJ candy, and that proper lab tests have been conducted to ensure the quality is the same. Something is amiss if a person is left hallucinating after taking a half an MJ candy with 10 mg THC, but his bud has nothing happen to him having consumed the same. (In some recent press reports proprietors have admitted that the potency can and does vary wildly.)
New users, especially, have been advised to take it easy, especially with edibles.
Meanwhile, both wifey and I have agreed we've no intention to try anything "out of curiosity" or "to see what it's like". We have our own 'drugs' of choice, namely ice cream and biscotti nibbles - with our coffee each morning.
That is about as radical as we plan to get, though we do wish the state's MJ experiment the best in proving to the nation it can work.