Thousands of Students Gather for Potfest at UCSC

Thousands of Students Gather for Potfest at UCSC
Posted by CN Staff on April 21, 2008 at 05:03:40 PT
By Tom Ragan, Sentinel Staff Writer
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel 
Santa Cruz, CA --  Thousands of college students, dispelling the notion that marijuana somehow makes users forgetful, showed up late Sunday afternoon at UC Santa Cruz and smoked major amounts of weed.It was a coordinated effort that went off without a hitch to celebrate what has become commonly known as "4/20" to a pot-smoking subculture.
In what could be aptly described as a cross between a New Year's Eve party and a wannabe Woodstock gathering, thousands of students found their way to the meadow behind Porter College in a scene reminiscent of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," then counted down the seconds until 4:20 p.m.And when the time finally arrived, a big cheer went up along with huge clouds of smoke.About a minute or two later, another cheer went up with more clouds of smoke. Then another a few minutes after that.Clearly, watches weren't synchronized -- but, hey, how relevant is time anyway, really? Think about it.Norbert Borbely was."Everything repeats itself eventually -- history, politics, war, " said a philosophical-thinking Borbely, 36, a UCSC student whose first and last name, incidentally, contains several letters in the middle that repeat themselves -- something he pointed out just moments after taking a hit of from his glass pipe.But for Borbely, smoking weed isn't just about having fun, he said."For me, smoking pot is a learning experience. It's a part of the process of understanding yourself. It makes you conscious about what you're doing. The code is different each time, but you keep playing the game. And each time the results can be different."For decades now, the date 4/20 and the time 4:20 p.m. have become a part of a grass-smoking subculture whose exact history is still hard to pinpoint.The story often circulated is that the term and time came from a group of students at San Rafael High School in the early 1970s. They would say "4:20" to indicate the time they were going to meet after school to smoke a little dope. It was a sort of code to them; kind of like a cooler version of Pig Latin.Since then, other stories have wildly grown -- from a god who left Ethiopa and settled in Jamaica only to have musician Bob Marley further immortalize him -- to the exact degree of the heat needed to get a big fattie going: 420 degrees Fahrenheit.Imagination seems to know no boundaries when it comes to thinking up coincidences of the date and time and world events, which students pointed out in the meadow. For example, Adolf Hitler was born on April 20. The Columbine High School massacre in Colorado occurred on the same date. Somebody tripped on LSD for the first time at that exact moment, according to his diary.But in the end, the history isn't as relevant, they said, as is the common bond of getting together and smoking dope.And the reasons behind their fascination with THC were as varied as the bud and the shake that was going around."It releases my inhibitions," said Scott Bernhardt, 20, who played an acoustic guitar at the entrance to the meadow. "I can definitely play well not stoned, but the feeling isn't the same."Said John Hunter, 21, a UCLA student who made the special trip to UCSC for the occasion: "I smoke pot to enhance reality. Of course, you're going to get your negative stereotypes. But I go to UCLA. I've got a 3.6 grade point average. I've got a job. I've got ambition, and I've been smoking marijuana virtually every day of my life. "There's nothing bad about it."Don't tell that to the UCSC administration, which had to worry about all the possible bad scenarios that could unfold when thousands of students congregate in one setting and start having at the spliff, in some cases potent stuff that's manufactured for medical purposes.As much as the university tried to discourage outsiders from coming in by setting up roadblocks at the entrances to campus, it was a daunting task.Which is why extra security was on hand and a few fire engines were also placed on the periphery in case all those matches and lighters missed the mark and landed in a patch of dry grass nearby. "This is an event that's unsanctioned and unwelcomed by the university," said Jim Burns, a spokesman for the UCSC. "It's based on an illegal activity that has become large in recent years. and we're attempting to send a signal that it's not welcome."But it's happening all over the country at scores of college campuses, Burns points out. Not just at UCSC.He said observers of past years report that fewer students attended this year's event than last year, and that not as many people stayed longer this year than last year. Overall the day passed peacefully, given the large numbers -- except for the 150 to 200 car owners who returned to their illegally parked cars and found a ticket on the windshield. What a buzz kill.Some students used the event to have a little fun.Coming into the campus on the Westside, the fire condition sign for the surrounding redwood forest wasn't set to "High" or "Moderate." It was, as somebody jokingly amended to the sign, "Baked."Complete Title: Up In Smoke: Thousands of Students Gather for Potfest at UCSCSource: Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)Author: Tom Ragan, Sentinel Staff WriterPublished: April 21, 2008Copyright: 2008 Santa Cruz SentinelContact: editorial santa-cruz.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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