For some in California, April 20th marks the 35th anniversary of Earth Day, a day to celebrate the environment and raise ecological awareness. For others. 4/20 is simply a day to get high on pot. The date–which is said to originate from a tradition among high school students in San Rafael of smoking marijuana at 4:20 in the afternoon– marks an unofficial day of appreciation for all things marijuana- and hemp-related–and a day of activism for legalization of the drug.
This year, marijuana advocates in California hope to catch up with Colorado and a few other states that have legalized pot for all purposes. In 1996, California was a pioneer in legalization, becoming the first state to legalize medical marijuana. But efforts have slowed, and Gov. Jerry Brown, a utopian in so many other ways, does not back the effort. His probable successor, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsome, backs legalization, which was added to the state Democratic Party platform last year.
Marijuana faces one new obstacle this year: drought. It is thought that illegal marijuana cultivation sucks large quantities of water out of the state’s supply, particularly in Northern California. That has cast the marijuana industry–and the hobby it feeds–in a socially irresponsible light. Once the most “progressive” of causes, marijuana may soon have to contend with other industries on a level playing field for a share of the state’s water supply. Or they could just light up–and forget it.