Tuesday, April 21, 2009

celebrating everyone's favorite California penal code section

I had a hectic day on Monday, and it was a bit insane getting my art supplies organized and driving over to my evening art class on time. As I drove into Golden Gate Park, I noticed that there were an unusual number of cars there for a Monday evening, but since it was a rare hot day, I figured people were probably taking advantage of being outside on a sweltering evening (it was one of those days which set heat records all over the region and made one reflect again about that damn global warming). But there weren't just a lot of people in the park: there were a lot of idiots about. In the little parking lot by the Sharon Arts Studio, a moron drove the wrong way at top speed, and there was a large group of people walking seven abreast through the parking lot (I resigned myself to not being on time to class and didn't even attempt to get them to bunch up as any sensible group would do when walking through a frigging parking lot).

In the parking lot, there were a number of people hanging out in or by their cars, some of them sending off those glowering vibes which cause me, after decades of city life, to walk faster, not make eye contact, but affect a confident and casual demeanor (in the World of Warcraft, we talk about "drawing aggro", and I was definitely drawing aggro by the mere act of being a white person carrying art supplies through that parking lot). I'd never had that experience in Golden Gate Park before. A woman who was missing some teeth was selling t-shirts in the parking lot.

As I walked to the studio, I was hit by a football being thrown about by a pair of morons who didn't apologize, but just giggled. The lawns were packed solid with people. I could smell smoke -- barbecue smoke, cigarette smoke, pot smoke. There was a man guarding the entrance to the Sharon Arts Studio, turning away a large number of people who, for no discernible reason (possibly full bladders) wanted to know what was going on in that building and why couldn't they go in. I was waved in, and I asked my teacher, "Dolores, is that a scheduled event?"

She said simply, "It's Four Twenty." Suddenly it all made sense, and I felt like an idiot. Being unemployed, I don't pay much attention to calendar dates, and I never was a pothead. "I'm such an idiot," I confessed.

Dolores assured me, "I didn't know, either. I had to ask Liz", the ceramics teacher. "Liz explained it to me." A classmate was still confused. I explained: "420 is the California penal code section penalizing possession of marijuana. So if you love marijuana, when it's 4:20 you can think about it and toke up, and if it's 4/20, you can celebrate your love of marijuana." The older members of the class were bemused. However, I heard one of our token twentysomething students confide in the other youngster, "It's so hot; I was so tempted to just stay outside and smoke, but I didn't want to come to class like THAT", going on to express the likely horror us older students would have for someone under the influence of the green leaf. I dismissed her concerns. "Oh, just sit in the back. No one would care."


Tiny Dancer said...

That explains my daughter's behavior last year. She called to tell me about this day where every college student smokes dope (she laughs at me and says only old hippie parents call it that anymore). She just wanted me to know. A few days later she called and said she never wanted to do that again. I'm glad there were no calls this week.

Freewheel said...

I thought it was legal in California - all you need is a prescription, which anyone can get. At least, that's how they portray it on Weeds, and I have to believe the teevee.

Anonymous said...

It's complicated, Freewheel. Yes, you can easily get a medical marijuana card (I think everyone knows the drill... there are ads from people like "The Pot Doc" who give medical marijuana eligibility consults, you go in and whine about your insomnia, headaches, backaches, nausea, etc.., and you walk out with a medical marijuana card.

However, federal law still outlaws marijuana, and there are occasional federal prosecutions in federal court here (notably the Dennis Peron case). I'm not sure whether Pres. Obama will end that.

AND then there's a big problem: the growing. Producers now have the medical centers to sell to, as well as their preexisting consumers, but their crops are not protected under state law and certainly not under federal law (under state law but not fed law, you could have a few plants if you are a patient yourself or a caretaker of a particular patient, but not enough plants to make anyone happy).

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to be pedantic, but Cal. Penal Code Section 420 makes it a misdemeanor to obstruct access to "public land of the United States" -- nothing to do with marijuana.
"4:20" seems to be a slang term devised by a bunch of high school kids who chose that time to meet and light up every afternoon... or so says Snopes. http://www.snopes.com/language/stories/420.asp

Anonymous said...

AAaaaaah! 4/20!! When I taught high school I used to DREAD 4/20 because all the stupid druggie kids would snigger about it ALL F'ING DAY. I wanted to tell them to STAY THE F*** HOME AND SPARK UP if all they were going to do is drop innuendoes about it! Now that I teach middle school, it's not such a high profile day.

Amy said...

I took a walk through GG park yesterday (Actually I went into Sharon and thought of you.) and there were still an awful lot of people about. I don't make a habit of strolling through in the afternoon, but it seemed to me to be unusually crowded with squatters. I'm not easily freaked out (I used to have a squatter gf) but I was uncomfortable.

Epiphany said...

Wait! What happened to the San Francisco I used to know and love? Why on earth would your fellow student think it was a problem to go to an ART CLASS while stoned? Art and pot go together like peanut butter and jelly, or the Grateful Dead and tie-dye.

Strange times we live in, indeed....

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it, but "420" was started up in San Rafael by a bunch of high school students. detention got out at 4:15 so they would meet up 5 minutes later. the penal code reference is a myth.

please don't 5150 me! %-)

(this is M, this thing never lets me log on!)

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