0

Marijuana smokers out, proud for 4/20 high holiday

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Forget Hippie Hill. For thoroughly modern marijuana smokers in the San Francisco Bay area, the hip place to celebrate their movement's high holiday this year was the inside of a stretch Hummer parked outside a pot gardening superstore.

Marijuana legalization advocates across the country lit up during Tuesday's annual observance of 4/20, the celebration-cum-mass civil disobedience derived from ''420'' -- insider shorthand for cannabis consumption.

IGrow, a 3-month-old cultivation equipment emporium, got a 24-hour jump, sponsoring a ''420 Eve'' festival Monday afternoon.

Several hundred revelers lined up outside the 15,000-square-foot shop -- security guards kept them at bay until 4:20 p.m. -- waiting for the chance to revel in marijuana's rising commercial clout.

Inside the gates, they perused booths stocked with pipe-shaped lollipops and specialty fertilizers, entered a medical marijuana delivery service's raffle for an oversized joint and toured a 53-foot-long portable grow room with a starting price of $60,000.

''I wouldn't have thought we would be able to consume on site,'' marveled John Corral, 19, of San Jose, after he obtained a wristband that gave him access to the event's two ''vapor lounges,'' the one inside the Hummer and another inside a companion Range Rover limousine.

Marijuana use -- medically and recreationally -- is getting more attention these days, with California voters deciding in November whether to legalize the drug, and South Dakota voters considering this fall to allow its medical use. California and 13 other states already permit such use.

Most Americans still oppose legalizing marijuana, but larger majorities believe pot has medical benefits and the government should allow its use for that purpose, according to an Associated Press-CNBC poll released Tuesday.

Respondents were skeptical that crime would spike if marijuana is decriminalized or that it would lead more people to harder drugs.