One of my favorite pictures to check out each year is the annual 4/20 protest at University of Colorado in Boulder.
But this year the administration is cracking down. They're literally fencing off the grounds where the protest is normally held and laying down fertilizer. And they've set up all sorts of other bureaucratic shenanigans to harsh the mellow of students. I'm a proponent of drug legalization so I support the protest, but some students say it gives the school a bad reputation among prospective employers. They're proposing a counterprotest:
More than 350 University of Colorado students had RSVP'd by Wednesday evening to a Facebook event encouraging students to wear a suit and tie to campus and around Boulder on Friday to protest the 4/20 smokeout...
The group is not meant to stand against legalization or the use of marijuana, Trujillo said, but to encourage students not to use the substance in public, which gives employers and others a negative view of CU students.
"I had a friend who went to New Zealand and she said they knew about 4/20 in Boulder, so I figure if they know, so do employers," Trujillo said.
He said wearing professional business attire is a great way to show employers and the rest of the world that CU students can be "classy" and respectable and aren't all "potheads like you see on the news on 4/20."
Meanwhile, a professor at the school defended the protest here:
The students participating in the 4/20 event are engaging in a grassroots non-violent act of civil disobedience to protest an immoral law. Laws against recreational marijuana use are immoral, because people who use marijuana aren't harming themselves, or others. Marijuana use is at least as safe as alcohol use. It's not the users but the government which is causing most of the harm, by unfairly punishing users. There are problems associated with drug trafficking, but those problems only arise because marijuana is illegal.
Moreover, there is a long and admirable tradition of non-violent civil disobedience at college campuses in this country, from the protests in favor of civil rights laws to the protests against the Vietnam War. The 4/20 event should be seen in this vein.
Perhaps the 4/20 event is not very effective in implementing political goals. To the extent that's the case, the solution is for us at CU to teach our students how to be more efficacious in their political activism. Note that teaching political activism isn't just a liberal thing to do: one can be a political activist against gay marriage, or for banning abortion. Moreover, legalizing marijuana is not a liberal vs. conservative issue: conservatives as diverse as William F. Buckley, Milton Friedman, and Pat Robertson have spoken out in favor of marijuana legalization.
We'll have to see what happens tomorrow.