The Latest: Oakland 4/20 festival focuses on social justice

AP News
Posted: Apr 20, 2017 7:58 PM
The Latest: Oakland 4/20 festival focuses on social justice

DENVER (AP) — The Latest on the 4/20 marijuana celebrations (all times local):

4:50 p.m.

A 4/20 celebration focusing on social justice is underway at a west Oakland, California urban farm.

A DJ played hip-hop and reggae with cannabis themes as guests drank bottles of beer, ate tacos and toasted 4:20 p.m. by lighting up plump joints.

The event was hosted by Hood Incubator, an Oakland nonprofit formed last year to help minority entrepreneurs get a foothold in the legal cannabis industry.

Marijuana is gaining acceptance, but social justice activists want to make sure African Americans and Latinos, who are arrested at higher rates than whites, have a shot at participating in the lucrative industry.

Incubator co-founder Ebele Ifedigbo said Thursday's event was a space to learn about the upsides of a plant that could help communities of color economically and socially.


5:30 p.m.

Overcast skies and drizzle didn't stop several thousand people from gathering at a park near the Colorado Capitol to light up during the 4/20 marijuana celebration.

At 4:20 p.m., pot enthusiasts, many in costume, lit up and sent out a raucous cheer, as well as a cloud of smoke that lingered in the humid air. Rapper 2 Chainz then took the stage.

The annual celebration of cannabis culture is providing activists an opportunity to reflect on how far they've come, with the recreational use of marijuana legal now in eight states and the nation's capital.


2:20 p.m.

Some hearty stoners opted for a literal high to celebrate the 4/20 holiday outside Los Angeles.

About two dozen people gathered Thursday morning at a trailhead in the Altadena foothills for the inaugural "High'ke," a 2.5 mile trek that promised joints to everyone who made it to the 5,600-foot peak of Mount Lowe.

Anna Acosta called it a "perfect way" to begin a day. The 49-year-old brought her Chihuahua, Tuxedo, hoping to revel in the "camaraderie of being out in nature" with like-minded people.

Organizer Pedro Velasco hopes to someday quit his telecom sales job and open a dispensary and events-planning company focusing on social marijuana use.

He says he was inspired to become a pot advocate after a dying uncle refused cannabis that might have brought relief during chemotherapy treatments.


12:35 p.m.

Seven pro-pot activists have been arrested by U.S. Capitol police while handing out free joints to congressional staffers and people who work on Capitol Hill.

The demonstration Thursday was intended as a protest against federal interference with states that have legal pot.

Possession of up to 2 ounces of pot is legal in the District of Columbia, and the demonstration was held on city land rather than federal property in an attempt to comply with the law.

But in a statement, police say they invoked federal law in making the arrests.

Police say a man and two women were charged with possession with intent to distribute, while four women were charged with simple possession.

One of the organizers, Nicholas Schiller, says police "decided to play politics" with the demonstration.


10:50 a.m.

Colorado lawmakers have rejected a last-minute proposal to ban marijuana churches where users can congregate inside and smoke pot.

The House vote came Thursday on the 4/20 holiday after it debated whether to try stamping out attempts to use religious freedoms to open places where marijuana users can gather.

Opponents from both parties said telling churches how to worship is a "slippery slope."

The International Church of Cannabis was set to open Thursday in a century-old building in a tony Denver neighborhood.

The former Mount Calvary Apostolic Church has traditional church features outside and psychedelic paintings inside.

It's illegal in Colorado to consume marijuana indoors in places considered public.


10:10 a.m.

From Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., to Hippie Hill in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, marijuana enthusiasts are observing their 4/20 holiday with public smoke-outs, parties and, yes, great deals on weed.

The annual celebration of cannabis culture is providing activists an opportunity to reflect on how far they've come, with the recreational use of marijuana legal now in eight states and the nation's capital — but also on the national political tone, with Trump administration officials reprising talking points from the heyday of the war on drugs.

Advocates planned to hand out free joints to Congressional staffers Thursday afternoon. In California, which voted to legalize marijuana last fall, tens of thousands were expected at events ranging from marijuana cooking classes to the annual bacchanal in Golden Gate Park.

Pot shops in some legal marijuana states are offering discounts.