Pubdate: Thu, 21 Apr 2016
Source: Citizens' Voice, The (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
Copyright: 2016 Associated Press
Author: Paul Elias, Associated Press


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Marlene Manning was glad to be back in her 
native California on Wednesday for an annual 4/20 celebration, where 
reggae music played loudly and the smell of weed pervaded.

The 50-year-old real estate agent just relocated from Florida, where 
"everything is against the law," she joked. She wasn't partaking, but 
she joined thousands of others at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park 
who were enjoying an annual marijuana-ingesting event to the fullest.

"It's freedom," said Manning, pushing a stroller with her 6-month-old 
granddaughter on the periphery of the gathering on "Hippie Hill." 
They passed by empty bocce ball courts and young adults wearing 
tie-dyed shirts. "This is so refreshing."

Fans of the drug have long marked April 20 as a day to roll weed or 
munch on potlaced brownies - especially at 4:20 p.m. - and call for 
increased legal access to it.

This year's celebrations throughout the U.S. come amid loosening of 
marijuana restrictions and increasing tolerance for the plant's use 
from Alaska to Massachusetts.

It could be the last unofficial pot holiday on which users have to 
call for legalization in California, with a pot initiative expected 
on the November ballot. The drug's use for medical purposes got 
approved in 1996.

Voters in Nevada, Arizona and Massachusetts also are expected to 
consider marijuana legalization measures. And the Vermont Legislature 
is discussing a proposal to legalize the possession of up to 1 ounce.

Recreational use already is legal in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.

In Anchorage, Alaska, a downtown marijuana pot club has scheduled a 
"420 Blaze Party" in a state where recreational use is legal but 
sales of weed aren't until later this summer.

"We're a private club, we're an events club and our members can 
consume their own product," said one of the owners, Theresa Collins. 
The club is offering a free shuttle home for attendees.

Police in Burlington, Vermont, said several hundred gathered on the 
University of Vermont campus to celebrate. In New Hampshire, dozens 
of people smoked marijuana on the Statehouse lawn in Concord.

Several Las Vegas marijuana businesses held grand opening ceremonies, 
including the Cannabis Chapel, which offered customers a pot-themed 
wedding package complete with a silk cannabis bouquet - all for 
$104.20. Nevada voters legalized medical marijuana use in 2000, but 
it wasn't until 2013 that lawmakers created rules allowing for dispensaries.

One new dispensary, Blum, opened its pristine shop Wednesday in a 
gritty industrial park a few blocks from the Las Vegas Strip. 
Dispensaries are banned in the tourist corridor, so owners are 
banking on shuttles to bring them some of the more than 40 million 
who visit the city each year.

The origins of the number 420 as a code for marijuana are murky. The 
most accepted version is rooted in a public high school in Marin 
County, California, across the Golden Gate Bridge north of San Francisco.

There, a group of 1970s high school students say they coined the 
number as code for the time to meet after school to toke up.



Legal for medical use

Eight states allow people with certain medical conditions to use 
marijuana, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, a 
pro-legalization group that tracks state pot laws.

Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, 
Pennsylvania and Vermont each have their own lists of ailments for 
which sufferers can use the drug with a doctor's recommendation. 
Pennsylvania's medical marijuana bill was signed into law by Gov. Tom 
Wolf on Sunday.

The drug cannot legally be prescribed in any state, because it has no 
accepted medical use under federal drug law. But some doctors are 
willing to recommend it under certain conditions.

Legal if it doesn't get you high

Seventeen states, many in the South, have passed laws opening the 
door to marijuana use as long as the drug is extremely low in THC, 
the intoxicating ingredient. The laws have emerged in the last three 
years following publicity about children with severe seizures 
benefiting from oils derived from marijuana.

Marijuana legalization activists often disregard these laws for being 
loaded with so many caveats that the drug isn't being used. The laws, 
which still violate U.S. law, exist in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, 
Louisiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, 
Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin 
and Wyoming.

Not legal but won't put you in jail

Five states have removed the potential for jail time for those caught 
with small amounts of the drug. That means pot isn't legal for 
recreational use, but people smoking it to get high can't be put 
behind bars. Those states are Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North 
Carolina and Ohio.

Combination of the above

A few states both have approved marijuana use by sick people and 
removed jail sentences for recreational users. One is California, 
whose voters passed the nation's first medical marijuana law in 1996. 
Others are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, 
Minnesota, Nevada and Rhode Island.

Legal for adults over 21

Four states and Washington, D.C., allow marijuana possession in small 
amounts by adults over 21 for any reason. They are Alaska, Colorado, 
Oregon, Washington state and the nation's capital.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom