published Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Memphis pot smokers talk about celebrating 4/20 in public park

MEMPHIS — A police presence at a Memphis park didn’t deter marijuana smokers from gathering to celebrate an annual counterculture event known as 4/20.

The Commercial Appeal reports the smokers blended in with other visitors to Overton Park on Saturday. It’s celebrated on April 20 each year.

Keoka Washington and nine of her friends were in the park smoking marijuana and keeping a low profile. Washington says she started smoking Saturday at 11 a.m.

“We pass it. We’re a group. Sharing is caring,” Washington said.

Memphis police spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said police were aware of the significance of 4/20 and were patrolling areas where people gather, like parks.

The scene was calmer than a massive marijuana celebration in Denver, where shootings injured two people on Saturday.

As a counter response to the pot holiday, about 200 parents in Memphis and Millington received free home drug kits to test their children from Rural/Metro Corp. and other organizations.

DJ Cush, a local reggae music jockey, said he prefers pot to harder drugs.

“If you read the Bible, God gave man all seed bearing plants to use,” said Cush, who smokes daily. “Like some people take their Prozac, we take our herb.”

The observance fell two days after Tennessee Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen introduced a bill to create a commission to study federal cannabis laws.

Kevin Collum, 33, said he took his family to the zoo before letting his children play in Overton Park on Saturday. Collum said he tried pot when he was younger, but stopped because he grew up.

“If you’re my age and you’re still celebrating 4/20, you need to re-evaluate your life,” Collum said.

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