Welcome to Cal! As you enjoy the many Cal Day events, please take note of the giant crowd of students on Memorial Glade. At 4:20 p.m., you will notice cheers and laughter, along with a giant cloud of smoke rising toward the sky. Today is a day of celebration for families to acquaint themselves with our magnificent campus and also for Berkeley stoners to celebrate, well, being stoners.
Today is April 20, a national holiday for all those who like to kick back, roll a joint and get high. Yes, I know, we have a reputation as a hippie school, considering our liberal town, the large homeless community and our counterculture history. Now, not all UC Berkeley students are pot smokers. Many choose to abstain from this herbal delight, and they face no admonishment for it. Berkeley, after all, is a place to be who you are, smoker or not.
I’m proud to be able to say, however, that those of us who do smoke maintain the tradition of lighting up on Memorial Glade together once a year to get high, enjoy the sunshine and come together as a community. You’ll notice people passing colorful glass pieces around in a circle, laughing with one another and making new friends. To call it a simple act of drug use is unjust. Some may find the spectacle distasteful, to say the least, but the stoners on campus know better. This is a unique opportunity for our visitors to not only become acquainted with our world-famous academics but also our distinct student body.
Most of the time, we’re busy studying for midterms and finals, writing papers, doing research in labs that produce innovations every other day and penning the next great American novels. Today, we kick back and remember how to enjoy the simpler things in life: the sun’s warmth on our skin, the gorgeous view from the Campanile, an ice cream sandwich from C.R.E.A.M. All work and no play makes Oski a dull bear. We’re not bashful about our love for marijuana. After all, isn’t college a time to begin our journeys of self-discovery?
One step of such a journey may involve trying something new with an open mind and coming to our own conclusions about it. Students on Memorial Glade are doing just that, and the rest of the country seems to be joining our love affair with pot. Eighteen states have made medical marijuana legal, and several others have decriminalized it. Not to mention this is a perfect learning experience for our students. You’ll notice that many student groups are out today, not just to share information about their causes but also to sell a mountain of sweets. Some of us smoke and then get the munchies, and others on campus jump on the opportunity to fundraise. How resourceful!
If I am coming off as too laissez-faire, allow me to bring your attention to a few scholarly publications about our friend Mary Jane. A Harvard study showed that THC, the active compound in marijuana, is effective in reducing the size of lung cancer cells in mice. Pot is also effective for treating seizures, migraines, multiple sclerosis, PMS, ADD and Alzheimer’s. Other studies have shown that the cannabinoids in marijuana help protect brain cells.
Berkeley is place where all sorts of people come together to learn, whether about astrophysics, English literature, women’s studies or the beauty of a well-rolled joint. The stoners here at Cal welcome you and hope you enjoy the beautiful day. We only ask the same in return.