420 in Boulder 2013

The University of Boulder will again restrict access to their campus in an attempt to stop the spontaneous pro-marijuana protests which had taken over their campus for the previous years. Citing that the pro pot rally was interfering with studies and research at the school they have called in police to cordon off the area. Effectively killing 420 in Boulder in 2012, and now perhaps in 2013. It is obvious that a more insidious motive was behind stopping what had become the largest outdoor smoking celebration in the world, and it’s not because of some sort of shadowy conspiracy that UC Boulder is in collusion with the for profit prison system or anything like that. It’s simply because they don’t want their brand to be tarnished by a bunch of potheads. The school is already synonymous with students who frequently enjoy the herb, but this is not an image that those who are managing the school’s brand want to perpetuate. So they came out in full force, and even in comic fashion covered the lawn where the rally was frequently held with dead fish guts which they later told news stations was “fertilizer”. I mean you can’t make this shit up!

Last year a lone protester vowed to take back the lawn in a grandiose fashion. After what many would later dub to be the equivalent of William Wallace addressing a crowd of stoners he charged the gates (yellow tape) and made a few great fake outs from the cops before being taken to the ground and arrested. The sad thing is that man really may have represented the last toke of the 420 celebrations in Boulder. One of the things with all popular movements is that they have to retain their spontaneity and anarchic nature in order to survive. As soon as organizers and bands, and long lines of speakers are all given their coordinates, and arrangements are made for the stage to be put on the south lawn, and stars to be brought in, the movement itself dies. It’s actually a lot more fun when it’s somewhat chaotic and celebratory, and everyone just smokes weed. Which as anyone who has been to Boulder 420 knows, it wasn’t exactly organized in any way, it just started happening.

I know that many may be thinking that Colorado should play it safe and act responsibly about their newly won “rights” to smoke the herb. And many others would say that dready hippies openly smoking weed outside doesn’t portray weed in the right light, but to that I would say that this sort of thinking and “brand management” of marijuana is exactly what should be fought against. That doesn’t mean that soccer moms and ceos shouldn’t have to be associated with Cheech and Chong, this means that it is simply sad that an institution of high learning chose brand management over what really had become the most successful and largest act of cooperative civil disobedience in the US today. Yes, these protesters are wearing hats which look like a giant pot leaf that they made with their friends during an all night bong session, but as soon as they step in public and with thousands of others violate Federal Law they are actually engaging in the largest act of civil disobedience in the US.

But you may be thinking that now the protesters will go to the capitol instead! And this is where they should be anyway, right? Well, yes you are right. They should be at the Capitol steps. The problem is that nobody went there. While I remain optimistic that this year will be different I’m not holding my breath. Unfortunately it seems that like always when a movement get coopted by permits and “free speech zones” and the like that the fun is lost, and when the fun of the event is lost, people simply stop going. I would encourage everyone to go to the smoke out on the Capitol Grounds on 420, but when you do remember the cries of the last protestor to grace the lawns of UC Boulder, and carry his spirit into the new demonstrations planned on the Capitol Grounds!