It’s a brave new world in Westport…
As evidenced by the fact that it’s poised to put Kansas City on the map in the weirdest way imaginable; by officially designating April 20th as a holiday. But not just any holiday, mind you.
For the uninitiated, April 20 is Carmen Electra’s birthday (she’ll be 40), the day Oliver Cromwell dissolved the Rump Parliament, when Louis Pasteur completed his first pasteurization test and was opening day in 1912 for Fenway Park.
But forget about all that, that’s hardly what the party hearty types in Westport had in mind when they ran this baby up the flagpole.
Because in street parlance 420 Day is known as the day (and the time 4:20 p.m.) that a group of California teens agreed to meet to smoke pot. From that humble, if vague, 1971 origin the date has evolved into something of a counterculture holiday that people gather on to “celebrate and consume cannabis.”
By the way, according to ProCon.org “medical marijuana” is legal now in 16 states.
One of which is not Missouri.
Which brings us back to Westport’s tentative holiday.
“It’s not official yet because one of the the landlord’s not sure about it,” says Westport businessman Bill Nigro. “And because it does support an illegal activity.”
Then again, “The whole purpose of the event is to bring up the smoking issues Kansas City has,” Nigro says. “Not just with pot but with cigarettes as well. And as different states realize the economic impact (illegal pot) has on their states it becomes an easier decision to medicinalize marijuana.
“It eliminates black markets and helps keep people out of prison and it’s really no different than prohibition was in the 1920s. I think eventually almost every state will legalize it and tax it and it will pay for roads, education and all of the infrastructure needs cities and states have.”
“What good is it doing as a black market now?” Nigro asks. “And it’s just like alcohol – not everybody drinks alcohol.”
Studies show that while 67 percent of adults drink alcohol, only 20 percent of white males – the highest category – get drunk at least once a month. Since smoking any amount of pot is akin to getting drunk, it stands to reason that relatively few people would smoke pot were it decriminalized, Nigro says.
So pot jokes aside, 420 Day in Westport well could happen, Nigro says. Here’s why.
“It brings out the realities of what’s going on in our world today. We’ve got so many big issues concerning smoking, whether it’s marijuana or tobacco. You know, one’s completely legal but you can’t smoke it inside. And the other is mostly smoked inside because it’s illegal. But it’s so prevalent now that that’s why all the other states have legalized it – so they can control it.
“And as a bar owner, I would much rather babysit a room full of people high than a room full of people drinking. The people that are high are quiet and peaceful and listening to music and talking quietly. Where the people drinking are loud and obnoxious.”