It dates back nearly 50 years, when five California teenagers met after school to smoke marijuana. Since then, April 20 has become a day of cannabis celebration around the world, including in metro Atlanta.
Call it “Weed Day” or simply “420.” Just don’t call the police: Recreational marijuana isn’t legal in Georgia.
But days after the city of Atlanta proposed new legislation to ban smoking — including vaping and e-cigarettes — in the airport, restaurants and bars, the so-called marijuana holiday isn’t going up in smoke.
“I don’t see that affecting my business,” Clayton West, owner of East Atlanta Smoke and Vape, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
West opened his first shop five years ago on Glenwood Avenue and has now opened a second location on Moreland Avenue. While smoking and vaping accessories are available, the Georgia-native West says the collection of glass artisan pieces make his shops different from others. Unique, hand-blown pieces from local artists and others from around the world are available, displayed almost as museum pieces. In this art gallery, it’s easy to overlook that the pieces have anything to do with smoking. There’s much more than just pipes, West said.
“My goal is to have a place for people to visit and see something they’ve never seen before,” he said. “I wanted to bring more of a focus of the glass-blowing culture and local and southeast artists.”
On Saturday, West’s new shop will hold its grand opening from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will feature live music, food, hookah and giveaways at 4:20 p.m.
“We figured what an appropriate day,” West said.
Several other events are also taking place for those wanting to honor the herb, including concerts, comedy shows and parties.
A Gwinnett County smoke shop, Smoke and Toke in Lawrenceville, boasts that it will host the biggest 420 celebration in metro Atlanta. Food, drink and discounts will be offered, including some items priced at $4.20, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
In Cobb County, the Cloud 9 Smoke and Vape Co. location in Kennesaw will host a live glass-blowing demonstration from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Also on Saturday, a block party dubbed “Heet in the Street” is planned in Little Five Points, according to an online advertisement.
“This is not an event where we will distribute marijuana, however this is a judge free event of mature adults!” the event description states.
In Georgia, only marijuana use for medical reasons is legal, and even that is a recent change. On Wednesday, Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a bill to grow and sell medical marijuana, providing patients already approved to use the drug with a way to buy it.
More than half of all Georgians support the legalization of recreational marijuana, according to Peachtree NORML, the state chapter of a national pro-cannabis group.
“We advocate for the freedom of adults in the United States to make their own decisions about cannabis,” said Tom McCain, executive director for the state group. “It’s not the dangerous thing that ‘Reefer Madness’ and all of the hype makes it out to be.”
The cities of Atlanta and South Fulton, along with unincorporated Fulton County, have passed ordinances decriminalizing marijuana. Fines in those areas have been drastically cut for those found in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.
But “Weed Day” or not, metro Atlanta police agencies say their work doesn’t change.
“Regardless of the day, we will still enforce state law and county ordinances as they pertain to marijuana,” Gwinnett police Cpl. Michele Pihera said.
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