THE POISON GARDEN website      Arum maculatum berries on a Cannabis leaf 


This free script provided by JavaScript Kit

Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Wednesday 25th April 2012

Though there are still people who say there is no ‘war on drugs’ even they could not deny that a lot of money is spent trying to reduce the use of drugs. Prohibitionists would say the trouble is that not enough money is spent whereas I would argue that much of it is spent on impossible goals.

To illustrate my general point I want to write about one particular instance where money was spent with the specific intention of reducing drug use.

In case you didn’t notice, last Friday was 20th April. To someone in Europe that doesn’t mean very much but if you adopt the US style of stating dates numerically then Friday was 4/20. That means that 1620 hours on 20th April has become a rallying point for cannabis users (4:20 on 4/20).

In case you’re not familiar with the term, '420' was first associated with cannabis when five friends at San Rafael High School in California went in search of a fabled plantation of Cannabis sativa, marijuana. It was 1971 and the friends, who called themselves the Waldos, heard a rumour that a member of the coast guard had abandoned a small crop of plants. They agreed to meet at 4:20pm to begin their search. When unsuccessful, they tried other days, always at 4:20, and as things go with close friends ‘420’ became their word for marijuana and everything associated with it. It might have stayed like that except for the coincidence that two of the group had connections with rock band The Grateful Dead. When the band took up the term its longevity was assured.

Cannabis sativa, marijuana

Cannabis sativa, marijuana

Incidentally, you’ll still read other explanations for the term but the summary I’ve given is taken from a long, fully researched article including interviews with some of the Waldos and documentary proof.1

So, 20th April has become, unofficially, ‘Weed Day’ in both the USA and other countries. Over time, a key part of ‘Weed Day’ has become a communal ‘smokeout’ at the Norlin Quad on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder. In previous years, the event has attracted up to 12,000 people so, on the basis that this posed a serious safety risk, the university authorities decided this year that they would act to prevent the gathering. According to CNN2, their efforts were pretty successful because the advance notice of the prevention meant people stayed away, almost certainly, finding somewhere else to celebrate the 420 moment.

But it isn’t what happened at Norlin Quad that interests me. It is what happened elsewhere on the campus. The university authorities, apparently at the request of student leaders, decided that one way to reduce the crowd at Norlin Quad was to mount a rock concert the same afternoon.

They booked Wyclef Jean, former Fugees’ frontman and failed Haiti presidential candidate. His contract has been made public meaning that the Denver Post was able to report that he had been paid $80,000 to perform.3 The paper estimates that the total cost of the event was $150,000. It also says that the organisers claimed that 1,000 people were in the 11,000 capacity venue though other estimates put the number as low as 500. The performer also ignored clauses in the contract calling for him to refrain from any mention of cannabis and the smell of cannabis was detected in the arena at 4:20.

Cannabis sativa, marijuana

Cannabis sativa, marijuana

So, a large sum of money and a great of effort went into stopping some people using marijuana but, as is always the case, what happened was the balloon effect with the people who would have smoked in Norlin Quad doing so somewhere else.

Incidentally, I referred to the event being held in the ‘arena’ because I wanted to save the best to, almost, last. The place college students were being encouraged to go to instead of smoking weed at the Norlin Quad is called the Coors Events Center as the beer manufacturer is its sponsor.

'Almost last' because I saw another example of the same sort of thinking. The current right-wing Dutch government, which may be out of power soon after failing to get agreement on a budget, is trying to prevent tourists from purchasing cannabis from the cafés where its sale is tolerated and considering scheduling Catha edulis, khat.

But ‘The Official Site of Holland’ has a page dedicated to encouraging visitors to take in ‘The Heineken Experience4’. As well as pointing out that the ‘experience’ ends with a ‘well deserved beer’ it says that under 18s must be accompanied by an adult. So, it is fine for children to learn about beer as long as they are with someone who is going to drink it.


1.4/20: How 'Weed Day' Got Its Name Huffington Post 20th April 2012
2.Colorado public pot-smoking event snuffed out CNN 21st April 2012
3.CU-Boulder's Wyclef Jean concert greeted by near-empty arena The Denver Post 20th April 2012
4.The Heineken Experience The Official Site Of Holland  


Full Entries


Tuesday 25th October 2016
Saturday 20th August 2016
Sunday 6th March 2016
Wednesday 3rd February 2016


Saturday 28th November 2015
Friday 27th November 2015
Monday 17th August 2015
Wednesday 15th July 2015
Friday 26th June 2015
Thursday 25th June 2015
Thursday 30th April 2015
Wednesday 29th April 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Tuesday 3rd March 2015
Saturday 28th February 2015
Sunday 22nd February 2015

November 2014

Monday 24th November 2014
Saturday 8th November 2014

October 2014

September 2014

Wednesday 24th September 2014
Monday 1st September 2014

August 2014

Tuesday 26th August 2014
Saturday 16th August 2014
Tuesday 5th August 2014
Friday 1st August 2014

July 2014

Sunday 27th July 2014
Wednesday 23rd July 2014
Sunday 13th July 2014
Sunday 6th July 2014
Tuesday 1st July 2014

June 2014

Wednesday 25th June 2014
Tuesday 24th June 2014
Sunday 22nd June 2014
Monday 9th June 2014
Wednesday 4th June 2014

May 2014

Monday 26th May 2014
Sunday 18th May 2014
Wednesday 14th May 2014

April 2014

Sunday 13th April 2014
Saturday 5th April 2014
Thursday 3rd April 2014
Tuesday 1st April 2014

March 2014

Monday 31st March 2014
Tuesday 25th March 2014
Friday 21st March 2014
Monday 17th March 2014
Sunday 16th March 2014
Tuesday 11th March 2014
Tuesday 11th March 2014
Thursday 6th March 2014
Wednesday 5th March 2014
Saturday 1st March 2014

February 2014

Thursday 27th February 2014
Monday 24th February 2014
Wednesday 19th February 2014
Monday 17th February 2014
Thursday 13th February 2014
Monday 4th February 2014
Monday 3rd February 2014
Saturday 1st February 2014

January 2014

Thursday 28th January 2014
Thursday 23rd January 2014
Friday 17th January 2014
Wednesday 15th January 2014
Monday 13th January 2014
Thursday 9th January 2014
Tuesday 7th January 2014
Wednesday 1st January 2014

December 2013

Monday 23rd December 2013
Friday 20th December 2013
Tuesday 17th December 2013
Friday 14th December 2013
Thursday 12th December 2013
Sunday 8th December 2013
Wednesday 4th December 2013
Sunday 1st December 2013

November 2013

Friday 29th November 2013
Wednesday 27th November 2013
Tuesday 26th November 2013
Friday 22nd November 2013
Monday 18th November 2013
Friday 15th November 2013
Thursday 14th November 2013
Sunday 10th November 2013
Thursday 7th November 2013
Wednesday 6th November 2013
Friday 1st November 2013

October 2013

Thursday 31st October 2013
Sunday 27th October 2013
Wednesday 23rd October 2013
Monday 21st October 2013
Friday 18th October 2013
Friday 11th October 2013
Wednesday 9th October 2013
Tuesday 8th October 2013
Monday 7th October 2013
Tuesday 1st October 2013

September 2013

Monday 30th September 2013
Saturday 28th September 2013
Friday 27th September 2013
Monday 23rd September 2013
Sunday 15th September 2013
Monday 9th September 2013
Tuesday 3rd September 2013
Sunday 1st September 2013

August 2013

Sunday 8th September 2013
Tuesday 3rd September 2013
Sunday 1st September 2013

Tuesday 27th August 2013
Sunday 25th August 2013
Monday 19th August 2013
Friday 16th August 2013
Tuesday 13th August 2013
Friday 9th August 2013
Friday 2nd August 2013
Thursday 1st August 2013

July 2013

Saturday 27th July 2013
Sunday 21st July 2013
Wednesday 17th July 2013
Monday 15th July 2013
Saturday 13th July 2013
Friday 12th July 2013
Thursday 11th July 2013
Wednesday 10th July 2013
Tuesday 9th July 2013
Saturday 6th July 2013

June 2013

Friday 28th June 2013
Tuesday 25th June 2013
Friday 21st June 2013
Thursday 20th June 2013
Wednesday 19th June 2013
Saturday 15th June 2013
Sunday 9th June 2013
Saturday 8th June 2013
Saturday 1st June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

July 2012 blog

June 2012 blog

May 2012 blog

April 2012 blog

March 2012 blog

February 2012 blog

January 2012 blog

December 2011 blog

November 2011 blog

October 2011 blog

September 2011 blog

August 2011 blog

July 2011 blog

June 2011 blog


The POISON GARDEN website is not connected with Alnwick Garden Enterprises Ltd and/or The Alnwick Garden Trust.