Friday, July 17, 2009

Peaceable Assembly in Porter Meadow on 420

by Becky Johnson
April 2o, 2009

Santa Cruz, CA. -- Parking was a bitch! Most of the streets are 2 hour parking only, and the west entrance to UCSC was closed off at 3PM. It was hotter than blazes. As the car passed River St. and Hwy One, the car thermometer read 102 degrees. As we passed the arboretum streams of students walked in clumps, most carrying water bottles. My driver continued past the West entrance (closed since it was almost 4 PM). The car left the open meadow and cut into the cool woods, quite welcome in the heat. We continued uphill in the forest on what had suddenly become a very twisty mountain road. And then I saw it. Like a beacon. It was a parked police car marking the trailhead to the bottom of Porter Meadow.

I left the comfortable air conditioned car behind and stepped into the hot summer suddenly here in the spring. I videotaped the officer at the head of the trailhead. He was too busy talking on his cellphone to pay me any mind. So I continued past, videocamera in hand. I entered an elfin glen filled with young fairies and gelflings. There were damsels, lads, naves, and engineering students with very interesting obects made into bongs.

On blankets set in the dappled forest glen, lay beautiful lasses with handblown and colorful pipes near at hand, some of which were being passed around. As I continued on, the clumps of people melded into one large clump of people, drinking iced tea, eating oranges, and smoking from some very interesting pipes.

Some groups had rolled up some formidable joints in brown rolling paper, and were puffing on them so that the entire air was permeated with the sweet smell of cannabis. I ventured out into the sunny and blazing meadow which was wall to wall people, mostly in circles, big or small, and passing around some kind of pipe, joint, or bong.

A few folks had some primitive merchandising going on, selling traditional junk food on blankets with signs written in magic markers. Everywhere students were laughing, talking, smiling, some beating drums, a few boomboxes were being carried.

In the center of the meadow, two men with huge signs saying "Are you on the Highway to Hell?" and "Repent or Perish" and something untowards about "Catholics" were bible-thumping the masses, providing the only discordant note.

There were two 420's. The "false" 4:20PM most likely had to do with the lack of synchronized watches. The REAL 4:20PM happened about a minute later. It really wasn't necessary to bring one's own stash to this event. Simply breathing deeply while walking through the crowd was enough to feel stoned.

As a UCSC alumni, of College Five no less, the forerunner of Porter College, I should have felt right at home in Porter Meadow with thousands of people committing civil disobedience against an unjust law. But I did not. This was a young person's event. It was largely absent the political trappings of the medical marijuana reform movement or even struggles colleges students face in being denied loans due to Federal cutoffs for students with even a minor marijuana conviction. This was one big party.

Students played hacky-sack in the meadow, shared drinks and munchies. I did see some people drinking beer as well, but they were in the minority. This was a smoke-fest!

In the SENTINEL on April 22, 2009, Rich Westphal of the Santa Cruz County Narcotics Enforcement Team reported that 6,000 people participated, despite the limitations on access and parking. No one was arrested.

Please enjoy the video I made of the event. Parents wanting raw footage can e-mail me directly at and, for a small fee, I may have footage of their little genius.

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