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As you may or may not know, recently there has been an international celebration of weed in which one smokes said "devils lettuce". It was celebrated in places such as California, Colorado and the first ever country to completely legalize weed; Uruguay. However, I ( like many) am unlucky enough to have been born on a patch of Earth where this plant is illegal and such celebrations are regularly met with confliction and confusion. So without further ado, let me lay out my personal experience and learnings of this sacred date.
What is there to learn about weed or 4/20?
No, I don't mean learning how to smoke weed. 4/20 is a date for stoners to have fun and celebrate but for the general public and society, I also believe this is an important date due to the social impact and repercussions of the weed debate. This really comes down to two sides of the table, criminalise vs decriminalise.
Regardless of your viewpoint, it is important to learn the facts about weed if you are to make a judgment, this is where 4/20 steps in. Almost like an awareness day, we can spread the information and facts of what weed is about and help influence people to create stronger and more factually based discussions about the stigmatised topic...especially in the UK.
Many weed naysayers believe that legalising weed will only bring crime rates and addiction rates to a sky-high, no pun intended. However, Portugal is a great example that shows this would not be the case, in fact, Portugal has decriminalised all drugs and since have seen a lowering rate of overdose deaths and have saved millions of euros in prison expenses. All of this happened in Portugal whilst drug use among adolescents has not risen.
Prison expenses wouldn't be the only added income to the UK if they were to legalise weed. California's legal sales reached $9.7bn (£6.95bn) in 2017 and it is estimated to grow to $24.5bn (£17.49bn) by 2021. Whilst California is a largely populated state in the USA, it still has around 27 million fewer people than the UK who has 66 million civilians as opposed to California's 39 million. It doesn't take a genius to figure out the profit to be made from legal weed in the UK, especially with the backing of a whole country's government which California cannot say they have.
On top of this, we have the countless medicinal benefits of the miracle plant, which I'm not going to assault your eyes with as I'm sure everyone's heard how it can ease and even in some cases cure; seizures, depression, anxiety, cancer, tumours, mental illness...it really will be a long list if I were to keep going.
Why the UK in particular?
Apart from the fact of this is where I live, I feel it is important to express my experience of 4/20 here so that more people are aware of what it's like to celebrate such a peaceful plant in a country where it is seen as a harmful and dangerous drug.
Regardless of the government's standpoint, there is an evergrowing movement in the UK to legalise weed, so huge in fact, that over 5,000 people turned out to Hyde Park in London to celebrate it peacefully.
Can you imagine if 5,000 people turned up to a park and committed crimes comparable to taking a class B drug? I'm pretty sure it would make national news and a large number of people would be arrested. I believe that because this didn't happen, you can create a major point that shows we are moving in the right direction. Sure, police turned up but that's just protocol to stop any riots, not to forget that the Hyde Park 4/20 Smokeout is an annual event that isn't stopped, which shows the power of the people and their fight for liberty.
So what did I learn?
As I sat in my room on 4/20, partaking in the only way you can, I sat with two close friends and wished we could've been with those people in Hyde Park. After what you have just read, you may believe I wished this to show my support to the cause and to an extent you'd be right. However, the main reason for wanting to be there wasn't because of this. It was due to the fact I would've enjoyed it and would've had a great time. Due to this, the one thing I can say I questioned myself was, "Why are we allowed to be controlled and not use something that is a direct product of mother nature?" Sure, I could understand the problem if people were shooting heroin or drinking ungodly amounts of legal alcohol in a park as this kills, but how many people have died from weed? Can you even die from weed? To quote fellow weed advocate Joe Rogan, "The only way marijuana can kill you is if someone takes 25 pounds of it and throws it out of a CIA drug plane and it hits you in the fucking head.”
To sum this up nicely, I have learnt to keep fighting for what I believe is right in the hope that one day the dream of legal marijuana will become a reality in the UK and the rest of the world.