Marijuana smoke-ins pay homage to pot's '420' nickname

The Sacramento BeeApril 20, 2010 

Today is the Fourth of July of weed.

At places such as Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Porter Meadow at UC Santa Cruz and Redwood Park in Arcata, thousands will light up in celebratory smoke-ins.

The collective marijuana smoke, honoring April 20 and the "420" numeric nickname for pot, will thicken right around 4:20 p.m.

That's when this most unusual of holidays pays tribute to the legend of a group of 1970s high school students in San Rafael, Calif., who gathered at 4:20 p.m. every day to smoke marijuana.

April 20 has morphed into a social, political and cultural event, with 4/20 fests lighting up college towns and urban centers from Seattle to Boulder, Colo., to New York City.

In San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, people are showing up and toking up, drawn by piqued awareness of the day and energized by a November ballot initiative seeking to legalize marijuana for recreational use in California.

"People are coming to Haight-Ashbury like the Grateful Dead is back in town," said longtime resident Jack Rikess. "They're walking down the street and smoking joints. It's going to be unreal. This could be the last illegal 4/20 in San Francisco."

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