Happy World Cannabis Day.
Thursday, make that 4/20, is the unofficial pot-smokers holiday that takes place every year April 20. Not to be outdone, South Florida is high on the day with pot-celebrating events on tap — even in, oh-my, conservative Coral Gables where the Eating House restaurant, under chef Giorgio Rapicavoli’s lead, hosts its sixth annual pot-inspired day-long dine for herb-lovers and those who love herb-lovers.
There’s also Big Sean concert at the Fillmore Miami Beach. Churchill’s Pub in Little Haiti hosts its Miami 420 Music Festival with 15 acts on stage until 3 a.m., including rappers Layzie Bone and Lil Eazy-E. Lincoln’s Bear Brewing Company, in Miami, gets really high, as in outer space high, with the ultimate in stoner’s flicks: a free screening of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” And Wynwood ice cream spot Mr. Kream satisfies the munchies and music cravings with performances by Camp Shed and the aptly named DJ Smoke.
Two days later, on Saturday, reggae’s first family, the Marleys, headline Kaya Fest at Bayfront Park. The theme: “Education before Recreation.” Stephen, Ziggy, Damian and Ky-Mani Marley plan to tout the benefits that one can get from pot.
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But can you party with a toke or two without fear of arrest?
Well, yes (kind of) and no. Yes (kind of) if you puff at home — within limits. There’s a new episode of NBC’s “Superstore” on Thursday night and we bet that comedy’s humor is best appreciated while baked.
But don’t expect to light up while strolling along Ocean Drive to and from the Big Sean jam or along Miracle Mile in the Gables after you’ve given in to the munchies with Rapicavoli’s Cap ‘n Crunch pancakes and croquettas and waffles. Miami-Dade is not yet Denver where the use of recreational pot is legal.
After all, we’re still debating precisely how to adopt the voter’s will from the November election when Amendment 2, allowing for the legalization of medical marijuana in Florida for people with specific diseases or conditions, passed with 71 percent of voters. Florida joined more than two dozen other states that have legalized medical marijuana.
But we’re not California, Nevada, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Arizona, Alaska or Washington State where recreational use of marijuana has been legalized.
Here’s where we are: In February, Miami city commissioners voted to follow the lead of Miami-Dade and other communities including Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Hialeah and North Miami Beach that voted to give their police forces the option to issue civil citations for small-time pot possession as early as 2015.
The Florida Keys, including Key West, Islamorada and Marathon, and Broward county, including Hallandale Beach and Wilton Manors — but not Fort Lauderdale — also enacted non-criminal options for possessing less than 20 grams of marijuana (less than three-quarters of an ounce).
Police in these communities have the option of issuing $100 fines without giving the user a criminal record — although they have the discretion to file a criminal case if the pot-possession is tied to crimes like driving under the influence, domestic violence or any other felony.
Nationwide, proponents of pot legalization still have a fight to wage. With roughly 600,000 Americans facing pot charges every year, this year’s landscape is very much a mixed big for backers of marijuana legalization. According to a McClatchy report, the domestic industry remains under a cloud amid worries that President Donald Trump’s administration may soon move to shut down the state operations by enforcing the federal ban against the drug.
The legal limbo is expected to last at least until July 27, the deadline set by Attorney General Jeff Sessions for a Justice Department task force to review U.S. marijuana policies. Sessions, a longtime marijuana foe who said last year at a Senate hearing that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” announced the plan earlier this month, calling it part of a larger national effort to reduce crime.
You can, of course, still pass on puffing but groove away at any of Thursday’s 4/20 events. As for the origins of 4/20 (always pronounce it “four twenty”), the lingo dates to the fall of 1971 when a group of 12 friends from a San Rafael high school in northern California (of course) stumbled upon a hand-drawn map that pointed to a marijuana crop at Point Reyes, just northwest of San Francisco.
The friends called themselves the Waldos because they used to hang out by a wall after school and post-school sports activities let out for the day —hence their chosen time of 4:20 in the afternoon. None of the kids found the map’s supposed marijuana bounty but they started using the term 4/20, or 420. As word spread, members of the ultimate stoner’s band, the Grateful Dead, then at the peak of its creative powers on albums like “Workingman’s Dead” and “American Beauty,” found out about the kids and began touting the term.
From Deadheads to the masses, an unofficial day dedicated to weed was born. Rock on.
Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.