here is my first published piece...it's for the now non-functioning trajan magazine:
4:20 a time that brings a smile to the faces of many. When in the distant past the time of 3:00, or whenever schools were released, was a time on the clock that many looked forward to, it has since become later in the afternoon. 4:20, to many, comes twice in the day, a.m. and p.m. The numbers also have their own day on the calendar, the 4th month and 20th day. Marijuana has become synonymous with those numbers since 1971. It was then in 1971 at 4:20 p.m. when a small group of smokers at San Rafael High School in California met at a specific location to light up all the while creating an everlasting imprint on the marijuana culture.
Since then smokers around the world have made 4:20 their time to light up. Their light up time is illegal however. Legalization has been denied by the United States government since 1937. However ten states have recently legalized or decriminalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. Proponents of marijuana believe that it should be legalized for both medicinal use as well as recreational use. The governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, does not believe that marijuana is even a drug. He calls it a leaf, according to an interview with the British edition of GQ. He considered weight-lifting to be a drug, not some leaf. The leaf that heals and brings pleasure to the recreational user is also believed to lead to harder non-leaf drugs.
If we ignore Governor Schwarzenegger’s label of marijuana as simply a leaf and call it a drug, it would then be considered a lower level drug. Marijuana as a lower level drug would then lead the user to a much harder drug. This makes marijuana, along with tobacco and alcohol, gateway drugs. Gateway drugs is more of theory and the belief is that the user starts with the lower forms of drugs and then goes on to the harder drugs of choice like cocaine or heroin.
If the marijuana user chooses to move on to the harder drugs it would be their choice. However that choice would come with some consequences. Marijuana is non-habit forming and no one has ever died from smoking too much marijuana. The drugs beyond the gateway, such as cocaine and heroin are highly addictive and if used too much can be lethal, or at least destructive to the human body.
Hopefully we will see the day when the use of marijuana is decriminalized or it is simply legalized. Marijuana needs to be seen for what it is and not for what it is being portrayed as a harmful and addictive drug which would lead to even worse drugs. It is a healing leaf as well as a non-harmful and non-habit forming recreational leaf, especially when compared to alcohol and tobacco as well as the drugs beyond the gateway. The time may or may not come when marijuana is treated as nothing more than a recreational enjoyment or for medicinal purposes. Until that time comes we will always have 4:20.