When I was 11 years old, I was cutting school one day with a friend as we discussed the trajectory of our ensuing hookie adventure. We were headed for a brownstone in Brooklyn to meet up with some other young truants. (The parental rulers of the brownstone being absent.) I can clearly recall the dimly lit 14th Street subway platform where I anxiously informed my friend that “I was thinking, I might pass on the hash smoking thing.” My friend, Danny, immediately said, “What if we tie you up and make you smoke it?” My heart began racing. I was pretty much on the fringe of this social group and I knew the possibility of getting tied up probably did exist on some level. In other words, I was a certifiable wuss.
“On second thought, maybe I’ll try a little. I don’t have to smoke a lot, right?” Of course, my friend laughed. I did take some healthy hits of Lebanese hash that day. I didn’t want to be seen as… the wussy that I was.
And so my life spiraled downward from there as a result of the effects of marijuana on my developing brain. Or… there’s the alternative view… that someone had a natural medicine available to overcome the harshness of life in New York City. After all, when it comes to marijuana (or cannabis, depending on your cultural milieu or ignorance thereof) there’s little to worry about. Amendment 64 is a huge hit — barely need a 4/20 event to get a cloud of smoke going over the cities of either Denver or Boulder these days. Everyone is feeling positive. The people who can’t afford $2,000 a month for an apartment are sleeping by the train tracks and saving up to buy a used Dodge Rambler — not for sleeping in, but as a grow-house venue.
It’s hard to even recall the days when recreational weed was “wink-wink illegal” in Colorado, but in 2006, we were still “en route” to legalization and 4/20 gatherings were still “protest events.” At the 2006 4/20 event on the CU-Boulder campus, students had their pictures taken by campus police. Those pics were then posted online and $50 rewards were offered to students who would rat out the names of their friends for disciplinary action.
The City of Boulder’s Human Relations Commission asked the CU administration to attend a meeting to discuss human rights issues related to this action involving covert surveillance and questionable law enforcement procedures. CU did not attend that meeting, but in 2007 and 2008 there were no special restrictions on the 4/20 event which took place on the Norlin quadrangle. They were great events. No one was injured. Everyone cheered (or coughed and cheered) when the clock hit 4:20. At one of the events, someone who had smoked a little too much crashed their car into a garbage receptacle. A few people who were smoking in other spots besides Norlin quad were given tickets.
That was about it for the downside.
But then came the crackdown. University Chancellor Phil DiStefano was miffed. The campus was turned topsy-turvy by the Froot-Loopers who came out of the woodwork on 4/20, some of them — God save us — from neighboring high schools! The years of the crackdown have included military-sized golf carts full of cops chasing rag-tag stoners out of the nooks and crannies on the CU campus. Videos of these incidents suggest there’s no way to tell which group is more significantly “on drugs.” The cops seem to be laughing about as much as the stoners they chase.
A group of cannabis advocates including this writer took CU to court in 2012 to enjoin them from stopping the protest. We lost. I got the small consolation of having my picture next to Phil’s on the front page of the local papers. He looks more dour than I do, which is a good thing, because if he weren’t so dour, I think I would seem dour.
Because I am, even today. I shouldn’t need a permit to protest Jeff Sessions. By the way, while I have the microphone — Jeff Sessions is a creep. There, I said it. And the University of Colorado should not align itself with him in any way, shape or form.
I will be smoking something on 4/20 — maybe something wrapped in American flag rolling papers. And… I will not be attending the CU Boulder “Cannabis Symposium,” even though I was invited by the vice-chancellor, who I think goes by the title of “El Primo Capo di Tutti-Frutti.” Cannabis symposiums are to 4/20 what ditch weed is to Bubba Diesel, and I didn’t survive the last 50 years of a movement for no ditch weed.
Rob Smoke lives on “the Hill” in Boulder, Colorado.
This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.