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Not because he has class. Not because he has a test. Not even because his parents are coming. But because tomorrow is not today, and today is 4/20, a day of celebration for those who do the doobie.
"It?s just a bummer 'cause you know you have 364 days until the next one," he said.
But for non-smokers, the concept of 4/20 might be slightly cloudy.
"It?s kind of like St. Patty?s Day if you?re an alcoholic," said Morgan Lesko, president of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, which has festivities planned throughout today, including a baked sale. "You just get more drunk."
The truth behind the origins of 4/20 is somewhat mysterious. Even those interviewed were unaware of its meaning. They do know, however, exactly how to spend the highest of high holidays.
"Me and all of my friends are going to meet right before 4:20 and roll that thing up and smoke it," Thurgood Jenkins* said.
That 4:20 is in the morning, and that thing is an eighth of an ounce of marijuana. But Jenkins, a freshman letters and sciences major, wants to make sure his first 4/20 in college is one he doesn?t remember. That?s why after they spark up, he and his friends plan to watch The Godfather and then smoke until 4:20 p.m., he said.
While Jenkins and his friends stare red-eyed at the Corleone family, Harold Lee* will be sleeping. As a sophomore, he?s experienced 4/20 in college once ? he smoked before and after class ? and isn?t all that excited.
"I don't really care about 4/20," he said. "It's an excuse to smoke pot, but a) I don?t need an excuse and b) I have plenty of other excuses."
"A few weeks ago I finished a real tough paper. That was excuse enough," Lee said.
That said, don't think Lee won?t be participating. He said he asked his professor for a different lab session so he could smoke up with his friends.
"We plan on smoking what we call a Gotti blunt," Lee said, which he thinks is the namesake of John Gotti, the renowned gangster. "Instead of rolling a blunt, just empty the tobacco out of a cigar and put 6 or 7 grams in so it?s just real f----ing huge. So I guess that?s what I?m doing as far as a celebration."
University Police spokeswoman Maj. Cathy Atwell said police have nothing planned to combat the anticipated rise in use of marijuana today. But in the '70s, Atwell said, police used to staff more people on May 1 because groups of students would gather and hold smoke-ins.
From 2001 to 2003, according to statistics, University Police made about 322 drug-related arrests on the campus, including all drugs except alcohol, which is documented separately. That number also includes arrests for paraphernalia and the intent to distribute drugs.
The main active chemical in marijuana is THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which doctors say has harmful effects on the lungs, heart and brain.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, a governmental organization that studies the effects of drugs, marijuana use can lead to short-term memory loss and loss of coordination. Long term use can inhibit someone?s immune system from fighting off infectious diseases.
While the origin of 4/20 seems elusive, Steve Bloom, co-editor of High Times, a magazine dedicated to pot, said he thought he learned the truth when he went to a 1990 Grateful Dead show. He was given a flyer that read:
"420 started in San Rafael, California, in the late 70s. It started as the police code for 'Marijuana Smoking in Progress.' After local heads heard of the police call, they started using the term 420 when referring to the herb. 'Let?s go 420, dude!' After a while, something magical started to happen ? people started getting ripped at 4:20 a.m. and 4:20 p.m."
High Times printed part of the flyer in 1991 and the legend grew. But in 1998, the story changed.
"Lo and behold, one of the editors of the magazine got an e-mail contact from a guy named Steve Waldo and he claimed that he and his friends had invented 4/20," Bloom, a daily smoker, said.
Thus the current theory for the inception of 420 gives credit to The Waldos, a group of five guys in a garage band from San Rafael, California. Back in 1971, the guys wanted to meet after school to smoke, Bloom said, but needed a less obvious way to communicate.
Therefore, The Waldos started saying '420 Louie' to each other in the hallway, a reference to when and where they should meet ? at 4:20 p.m. at the base of the school's Louis Pasteur statue Bloom said.
Patel, a junior letters and sciences major ("They haven?t kicked me out yet"), is familiar with the story of The Waldos. He?s also very familiar with marijuana ? he smokes every day and started when he was 14 ? and has been looking forward to today since March.
Patel offered tips on spotting a stoner today.
"If you see somebody wearing sunglasses and smiling a lot, it?s almost safe to make the assumption that they?re high," he said.
Of course, take his words as you wish ? Patel said he was high during the interview.
*Names have been changed to protect students? identities