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420 is something of a legendary day among pot smokers, marijuana enthusiasts, and club kids. It's the one day a year that is all about celebrating cannabis, throwing a middle finger to authority, and perhaps also wishing for world peace - depending on which 420 origin tale you subscribe to. No matter which way you cut it, 420 is a day that is inextricably linked to marijuana and having fun.
Unfortunately, what many people forget is that marijuana still isn't legal in many states. In fact, it's also a Schedule I drug on a federal level as well. This is very important, since people tend to forget that fact when the holiday is around the corner.
Though I love cannabis, I do not celebrate 420 nor do I celebrate Bicycle Day. The fact is that you would be very unwise to not question if it is safe to celebrate 420 in a prohibition state, for one reason and one reason alone...
You see, stoners and cannabis lovers aren't the only people who love 420; cops love 420 too.
Cops love to arrest marijuana users because it's an easy arrest.
Whether the police force wants to admit it or not, they do have arrest quotas that they enforce. Without a certain number of people getting arrested or ticketed, police forces end up losing funding and income. Without income, layoffs happen and pay stagnation happens. So, it's in their best interest to exceed quota whenever possible.
In order to meet quota, police have to arrest someone. Most crimes that carry arrest warrants either require in-depth investigations before a warrant can be furnished, or would require police risking their lives with an extremely violent individual. Marijuana smokers are nonviolent offenders who typically comply with arresting officers.
So, in many ways, police see potheads as "easy pickings" to meet quota. Even if they themselves think the law is wrong, they may do it simply because it's easier than trying to subdue a PCP user into submission, searching up white collar crime records, or trying to remove an arms trader from his house.
It is, to a point, also an act of self-preservation on their parts when cops go after cannabis smokers. After all, who would you rather deal with - a gun-toting gangster, or a peaceful pothead?
420 means pot users are plentiful, flamboyant about their drug use, and much more likely to carry cannabis on them.
Cops are very well aware of 420 and its insinuations. At this point, you'd have to be living under a rock to not know what 420 is really about. As a result, police in states where cannabis isn't legal will often start patrolling as early as five days before, and five days after.
With all the 420 shirts, shoes, laces, and joints that are being flaunted this day, it's basically a goldmine for police who are looking to make arrests. As a result, arrests spike during 420 every single year.
Moreover, police even openly admit that they patrol for pot users during this time - often with surveillance in place near areas that are known hotspots for dealers. They often issue statements to that point as a way of getting public support for their departments.
Even legal states aren't always that safe.
In fact, there are some cases in which pot users have been arrested in legalized areas for cannabis-related crimes on 420. This past April 20th, DC pot activists have been arrested for passing out 1,000 joints. Washington DC is a legal cannabis state, and police used federal laws to indict them.
Is this fair? No, but it's legal to do and it's constitutional. Furthermore, arguing this fact will consist of a cannabis user arguing their case against police who probably already have connections to the judge. If this can happen in a legalized area, one must seriously question if it is safe to celebrate 420 in a prohibition state.
An end to 420 isn't likely, but if you want to avoid arrests, wait it out.
420 is a fun holiday, but it's not a holiday that's worth being arrested for. If you must celebrate, wait until after 420 to do so. That way, you will have less chances of getting arrested by cops looking to fill their quotas.
If you are going to celebrate, then be aware that police will be watching for you. So, put away the High Times magazine, cover up that pot leaf sweater, and don't be one of the people who gets arrested for marijuana smoking in a public place!