Marijuana advocates converge on Boulder to “liberate the leaf”

Today is April 20th, or 4/20, the so-called High Holiday organized to advance legalization of marijuana in the U.S.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) hosted a forum at the University of Colorado Boulder this weekend and is following with the annual “smoke out” on Norlin Quadrangle at 4:20 p.m. today, which is expected to draw thousands.

The weekend forum, which featured discussion on medical marijuana, decriminalization, and industrial production, was sanctioned by the university. Today’s smoke-out is not.

Reporting on the “not-so-secret” holiday, The New York Times suggests the issue is gaining traction, “crossing the fringes into mainstream” political debate:

Long stigmatized as political poison the marijuana movement has found new allies in prominent politicians, including Representatives Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Ron Paul, Republican of Texas, who co-wrote a bill last year to decrease federal penalties for possession and to give medical marijuana users new protections.

The bill failed, but with the recession prompting bulging budget deficits, some legislators in California and Massachusetts have gone further, suggesting that the drug could be legalized and taxed, a concept that has intrigued even such ideologically opposed pundits as Glenn Beck of Fox News and Jack Cafferty of CNN.

Steve Bloom, the founding editor of High Times magazine, says he sees Boulder as “ground zero” for the legalization movement. “It’s really the focal point for where it’s blowing up, and I love the collective energy of all of the people,” he told Boulder’s Daily Camera.

Attorney General Holder recently suggested that federal law enforcement resources would not be used to pursue medical marijuana users and marijuana clinics in the roughly dozen states where, through a hodgepodge of legal and semi-legal arrangements, they are allowed.

Marijuana Policy Project Director of Communications Bruce Mirken told the Times he has never seen energy like this in support of legalization.

“Any time you’ve got Glenn Beck and Barney Frank agreeing on something, it’s either a sign that change is impending or that the end times are here.”

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