This is lame," murmured one of Arcata's few hardcore stoners around 4:23 p.m. A couple of young men had stepped off the concrete slab at Redwood Park, the small piece of public property that the Humboldt Center for Constitutional Rights had wrested from the control of a zealous city staff over the course of the last few months (see "Save the Date," April 2).
Around 100 people mingled at the park on the chilly, foggy afternoon. A disparate cross-section of Arcata: sporty young male stoners, restless and edgy traveler types, college professors, attorneys and media — lots of media. But bloggers, students and professional reporters weren't the only ones collecting images. Organizers reported that eager police officers — around 10 of them at one point — avidly recorded HumRights' gathering. By 4 p.m., much of the weed-enthusiast crowd had dissipated into the Community Forest. Most of the cops disappeared, too. A couple of them could be seen approaching groups, chatting briefly and returning to their arms-crossed outposts.
Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman said nine people were cited for smoking in the park. "Generally speaking," Chapman wrote in an email, "yesterday was similar to the past several '420 Days' in terms of activity." No one was arrested.
Jim Gray, of McKinleyville, promoted his homemade board game at the event, saying he was more there to network than to sell copies.
HumRights director Jeffrey Schwartz said he would've liked to have more people show up to the event, but he seemed content to bask in the glow of city approval.
When the minute struck, a couple of hoots and hollers emanated from corners of the park. Former Arcata city councilman and HumRights board member Dave Meserve took a moment to announce to the small crowd, "It is 4:20, so if you're going to indulge, please step onto the grass." This, apparently, was to comply with HumRights' promise that no one would smoke at its event.
A haunting, charcoal-streaked, Juggalo-esque woman twirled around the garbage cans. Young Humboldt State University students scooped hot dogs and apple pie onto plates. A frazzled, sun-beaten, Army-coat-sporting man bounced from conversation to conversation, warning of pirates and betrayers. Loco Coco, a clown visiting from Los Angeles, said he expected an enormous joint to be passed around, but he was happy with the turnout and appeared to have found ample doobage.
A few people sparked up. But far more smoke emanated from the barbecue where HumRights volunteers turned hot dogs, feeding a small, consistent contingent of hungry 20-somethings.
The price of store-bought weed in Washington has plummeted by more than half since legalization struck last year.
The state liquor control board reported that the average price for a gram of legal weed is around $12, down from $30 last summer when there were concerns of a marijuana shortage. Those fears quickly turned to worries of marijuana oversaturation, according to a Seattle Times report.
Current prices in Washington seem to reflect typical Humboldt dispensary prices, according to a quick Journal survey.
An upscale East Bay retirement community is home to a growing population of marijuana users. The Rossmoor senior citizen community boasts a medical marijuana club enrollment of 250 members according to a recent San Francisco Chronicle article, perhaps not surprising, given a Pew Research report that shows a 300-percent increase in support for legalization among seniors since the mid-1980s.
Rossmoor isn't the only golf-and-marijuana-friendly retirement community. According to the Chronicle, residents of an Orange County senior village "have established a relationship with a Humboldt County grower and created a distribution network in the community that has the administration's blessing."