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Not getting permission has never stopped 420 in the past. Not getting permission is what 420 is all about.
Wednesday afternoon, marijuana smoke filled The Jam Spot, a music venue at 415 Central NW. Music blared out from The Jam Spot stage and pulsed in time with flashing lights. Vendors, many of them selling cannabis- or CBD-infused products, lined two walls.
420 is code for marijuana, more specifically smoking marijuana. April 20 (4/20) has for many years been a day of celebration for those who use and champion the use of weed.
When the organizers of the New Mexico 420 Fest failed to get Albuquerque Police Department approval to shut down some Downtown streets Wednesday to accommodate an outdoor festival featuring vendors, bands and street food, remnants of the fest moved into the music venue.
“It (420) means the expression of the value and benefit cannabis brings to the world and being able to celebrate in solidarity with like-minded people who realize its benefits,” said David Valdez, 41, CEO of NM Brief Relief, an Alternative Health & Wellness Center. Valdez was attending The Jam Spot event.
At the Masks Y Mas store in Nob Hill, artist Ron Cantrell, 47, who had painted and sold some 420-themed art, had a slightly different way of defining 420.
“It’s a time when stoners get together all over and get stoned,” he said.
‘A holiday now’
The story is that the term 420 can be tracked back to 1971, when five students at a high school in Marin County, California, got together at 4:20 p.m. to smoke marijuana, which was totally illegal back then. The students started to use 420 as a code for their pot parties.
Valdez said he organized 420 events when they were illegal. He said he thought it was especially important to celebrate the day in New Mexico this year to mark the fact that the sale of recreational marijuana became legal in the state on April 1.
“It is turning into a holiday now. It’s not just a code,” he said. “Now we don’t have to give out the (details) the day before so we don’t get raided.”
Cantrell, who said he has been smoking pot since he was 14, said that the city itself should have organized a 420 festival since recreational marijuana is now legal.
“They should have had it on Civic Plaza,” he said. “If (the city) put its effort into making it safe instead of preventing it, they could have made a lot of money and we need to have more revenue in this state because we are broke. But I’m not going to join the City Council to make them smarter.”
Celebration of freedoms
West on Central, between Seventh and Eighth streets, about 25 vendors were selling CBD products, Grateful Dead merchandise, jewelry and more at an event called “420 End of Prohibition.”
The organizers include Madeline Mariposa, whose Glitter Alchemy business sells herbal botanical products, jewelry and art, and Jay Steinberg, founder and owner of Birdland, the Nob Hill hippie store that has evolved into a cannabis dispensary.
Steinberg is a longtime advocate of legalizing marijuana.
“I’m a 65-year-old man who has smoked for 50 years,” he said. “I was tired of being deemed a criminal. This is really a medicine, but thankfully we can smoke recreationally.”
Jennifer Schoenholzer, 55, was selling her art, acrylic paintings on canvas, some with a 420 theme, at “420 End of Prohibition.”
A former corrections officer who has had to deal with pain since being injured in a motorcycle accident, Schoenholzer is a strong supporter of CBD and marijuana’s medicinal uses. She said 420 is a day worth celebrating.
“It is a celebration of our freedoms and our rights,” she said. “CBD eliminated my need for opioids. So many people are hooked on heavy drugs. It is the drugs prescribed to you by doctors that will ruin your life.”
John Fisher, CEO and founder of Dreamz Cannabis Dispensary, worked feverishly to get his two new Albuquerque stores open in time for 420. He succeeded with the one at 2015 Eubank NE. The one on San Mateo NE will open on Friday.
Eventually Fisher, whose corporate offices are in Dallas, hopes to have more than 20 stores throughout New Mexico. He has a 65,000-square-foot growing facility in Deming.
At the Eubank store on Wednesday, there was a DJ, a food truck, a glass blower and a tattoo artist.
“We opened at 10. We had a line outside at 9:45,” he said. “This is a significant day, particularly significant in New Mexico because (recreational marijuana) became legal. This is a day to mark how far we have come. So many people have been trying to keep this amazing plant out of people’s hands.”