Students looking up at “A” Mountain on their daily commute might have noticed something a little different Wednesday morning.
The “A,” which is usually painted a golden-yellow, was bedecked in Rastafarian colors of red, green and yellow in honor of what pot advocates refer to as Marijuana Freedom Day.
Though smoking marijuana is still illegal for those without a medical marijuana card, members of a pro-marijuana club got together on ASU’s Tempe campus to celebrate 4/20.
The event was hosted by ASU’s chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, as a way to not only commemorate the marijuana culture but to spark people’s interest in the campaign to legalize marijuana.
“We’re trying to get a grassroots movement going because legalization of marijuana comes down to public opinion,” said member Steven Proctor, an economics sophomore.
He added that by hosting the event, he’s hoping to get enough followers to pass a bill next year to decriminalize marijuana.
Proctor is also the editor in chief of NORML’s newspaper, The Cannabis Chronicle.
The club created the newspaper last semester to try to get the word out about legalization and has published a total of four editions with a staff of 10 people.
The club distributes the issues by hand when they have tabling events on campus.
Proctor said he hopes to change public opinion by informing people about the safety of marijuana, which will make it much easier to get marijuana decriminalized. He added there already seems to be a shift in opinion, citing the passing of Proposition 203, the legalization of medical marijuana in Arizona.
Mathematics and economics junior Alex DeBeus agreed that public opinion will do more for legalizing marijuana than sending letters to the government.
“Legalization is inevitable,” he said. “The government shouldn’t be regulating marijuana when it’s less harmful than alcohol or cigarettes.”
Proctor added that many people believe marijuana is wrong only because the government says it is, and that’s why the club is so adamant about changing public opinion.
The event took place on the west side of the Memorial Union and included contests such as a blunt-rolling competition, a joint-rolling competition and a smoke-out that occurred at 4:20 p.m.
About 20 students participated in the smoke-out. They did not actually smoke marijuana, but instead lit up some herbs that were donated by Headquarters Smoke Shop in Tempe, a supporter of the club.
During the event, there were several ASU Police officers patrolling the area, and the club was required to pay for one of the officers.
Proctor said club members were approached by ASU Police three days before the event and told they needed to pay for an off-duty officer to be present.
He said the club was told it needed to pay $350 for the officer, but NORML was able to get USG to pay for $250.
Members of the club sold T-shirts at the event to pay for the leftover expense.
“It is not something that we have in our budget, and I think it’s unfair because other clubs don’t have to pay for this,” Proctor said.
Cmdr. Jim Hardina, a spokesman for ASU Police, said the club was required to have an officer on-site because of the issues with the event last year.
“Last year there were numerous people smoking marijuana,” Hardina said. “Due to the large number of people smoking, police could not identify who was smoking the marijuana.”
He said this year’s event was supposed to be even bigger, so the club was asked to pay for additional officers.
This year’s event remained marijuana-free, and although several officers gathered during the smoke-out, no arrests were made.
“It’s a great cause, but it sucks that people are trying to shut it down,” film studies and communication sophomore Chris Back said.
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