The unofficial marijuana holiday 4/20 may have started as a code between friends but the secret is well and truly out with April 20 firmly established as a day to celebrate weed culture.
While it’s easy to imagine that corporate brands, celebrities and even politicians are keen to muscle in on the celebrations to make themselves relatable, law enforcement in the U.S. is doing much the same.
But rather than celebrating marijuana culture and the progress of the cannabis reform movement, the police departments of Fort Collins in Colorado, Bath Township in Michigan, Fryeburg in Maine and Wyoming in Minnesota posted familiar stoner stereotypes and puns to their social media accounts. While adult-use marijuana is legal in Colorado, Michigan and Maine, this is not the case in Minnesota, making the Wyoming Police Department’s 4/20 jokes somewhat in poor taste.
A few years ago, Wyoming PD posted a tweet saying “Undercover #420 operations are in place. Discreet traps have been set up throughout the city today,” as a caption to a photo with snacks and video games in the foreground and a police officer with a net poised in the background. We get it. People who smoke cannabis are lazy, dumb, and eat junk food.
The Wyoming Police Department signed off using the hashtag #Happy420, even though Minnesota’s marijuana laws means possession of 42.5 grams is understood as a felony punishable by 5 years in jail and a $100,000 fine.
Wyoming police officers were at it again this year with a video posted to their Twitter account. In the video, two officers discuss getting rid of seized cannabis and testing face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They decide to combine their two tasks to see just how effective the masks are. After burning the evidence, one of the officers reaches straight for sugary cereal and a bottle of Mountain Dew. The officer got high from carrying out the state’s cannabis criminalization policy!
While the joke is no-doubt lazier than the so-called stoners it mocks, what’s troubling is that Minnesota has one of the greatest racial disparities in marijuana arrest rates in the country, according to a recent ACLU report.
Other US police departments, in states where cannabis is legal, took a gentler approach towards acknowledging the 4/20 celebrations.
Fort Collins Police Department shared a Tiger King-themed infographic outlining state cannabis regulations, alongside a marijuana pun-laden caption.
“We’ll be blunt – if you’re ganja partake in 4/20 activities, weed preefer if you consume responsibly,” the department said on Twitter. “Don’t get your mota running – driving while impaired is illegal. Know your limits & follow the law (helpful chart below). Share this info with your buds. Dank you & be safe!”
Bath Township Police Department used 4/20 as an excuse to get creative on Facebook with its social distancing guidelines.
“Weed not be doing our jobs if we didn’t remind you all that social distancing is still important. It’s a joint effort between all of us, from Herb to Mary Jane,” a Facebook post states. “Doobie cautious and avoid social gatherings such as pot lucks. If you’re out blazing some fall leaves or chatting with neighbors make sure to stay on your side of the grass.”
“Hash out issues with your family peacefully even if they’re acting like a little roach. Today is 4/20 which means we’re closer to being able to hang out with our buds again which will be pretty dope,” the post reads.
“So reefer to the guidelines until then and stay safe. “And we’re aware of the difficulties faced by everyone as they cannot get together today to celebrate Carmen Electra’s birthday.”
Here’s hoping these officers are better at policing than they are at comedy.