Pubdate: Wed, 21 Apr 2010
Source: Napa Valley Register (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Lee Enterprises
Author: Lisa Leff


Forget Hippie Hill. For thoroughly modern marijuana smokers in the 
San Francisco Bay area, the hip place to celebrate their movement's 
high holiday this year was the inside of stretch Hummer parked 
outside a pot gardening superstore where entrepreneurs mingled with 
investors and a city councilman.

Marijuana legalization advocates across the country are expected to 
light up during Tuesday's annual observance of 4/20, the 
celebration-cum-mass civil disobedience derived from "420" - insider 
shorthand for cannabis consumption. IGrow, a 3-month-old cultivation 
equipment emporium, got a 24-hour jump start on the festivities by 
sponsoring a "420 Eve" festival Monday afternoon.

Several hundred revelers lined up outside the 15,000-square-foot shop 
security guards kept them at bay until 4:20 p.m. waiting for the 
chance to revel in their drug of choice's rising commercial clout. 
Inside the gates, they perused booths stocked with pipe-shaped 
lollipops and specialty fertilizers, entered a medical marijuana 
delivery service's raffle for an oversized joint and toured a 
53-foot-long portable grow room with a starting price of $60,000.

"I wouldn't have thought we would be able to consume on site," 
marveled John Corral, 19, of San Jose, after he obtained a wristband 
that gave him access to the event's two "vapor lounges," the one 
inside the Hummer and another inside a companion Range Rover limousine.

Two years ago, before he had a doctor's recommendation to smoke pot, 
Corral commemorated 4/20 on Hippie Hill, the Golden Gate Park 
promontory where an earlier generation of pot aficionados made their 
stand. IGrow has arranged to have a doctor working at the store three 
days a week to evaluate people seeking to become medical marijuana 
patients, and a handful of those at the 420 Eve party were able to 
snag last-minute appointments.

Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for 
the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the drug's steady movement from 
counterculture indulgence to mainstream acceptance will be evident 
elsewhere in the United States Tuesday, when four cable television 
channels have scheduled "a good chunk of programming to 420."

St. Pierre said that with the terms "marijuana" or "cannabis" 
regularly showing up on the top Internet searches and a measure to 
legalize the plant's recreational use appearing on as many as four 
state ballots in November, it's clear that groups like his, which has 
lobbied to decriminalize marijuana since 1970, are no longer blowing smoke.

"There is a large mainstreaming of all of this," he said. "Some of it 
is happening because of natural forces and some of it is happening 
because commercial entities looking to comport with local social 
mores and values are taking advantage of this bizarre numerology."

At the iGrow event, Tom Patton of GrowOp Technology, proudly 
discussed the inspiration for the "Big Bud" growing trailer he 
developed with Derek Peterson, a former stock broker. Patton said he 
kept hearing about pot growers who "were constantly putting up and 
taking down" grow rooms built inside warehouses or residential homes 
because of complaints from neighbors, fires sparked by faulty wiring 
or threats of law enforcement raids.

His pot room on wheels, which comes outfitted with a security system 
and technology to adjust temperature and humidity levels from an 
iPhone, may not completely eliminate the last concern, but that 
hasn't stopped a pair of New York bankers from investing in the invention.

"This is an enabling technology, not a hiding-out technology," Patton said.

The lure of revenue and respectability has prompted some veterans of 
the marijuana wars to diversify.  Joshua Freeman, a Sonoma County pot 
grower, was at the 420 Eve festival handing out samples of the 
specialty plant food he recently developed and is trying to market.

"We are not just a bunch of stoners sitting back on a couch playing 
video games," Freeman said. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake