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Marijuana users give Easter grass whole new meaning

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On Saturday, April 19, Joe Saunders of BizPac Review offered his opinions about Colorado businesses exploiting the fact that Easter and the marijuana-related 420 holiday fall on the same day this year. He is not happy about the efforts to tie the two events together to boost the state's economy.

According to Saunders, "Colorado’s marijuana tourism businesses are marking Christianity's highest holy day with a low-class approach to drawing tourism dollars: Attracting thousands of marijuana users to the state with 'World Cannabis Week' events that culminate with a 420 rally Easter Sunday.

"... There’s nothing inherently wrong, really, with marijuana aficionados celebrating on the same Sunday as the high point of the Christian calendar. It’s not their fault that the Council of Nicea’s first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox also happens to be the 20th day of the fourth month of the Gregorian calendar.

"But it’s still unseemly – particularly since past '420' celebrations haven’t exactly been church picnics. In Denver, according to the [International Business] Times, 'last year's rally ended in chaos after a shooting left three injured and dozens more running for safety.'"

Strictly from a business sense, the festival and 420 rally are fantastic ideas. In an article that was published online on Saturday, April 19, Andrew Bender of Forbes pointed out several ways that marijuana tourism could make some people in Colorado a lot of money this weekend.

According to Bender, "The highlight of Colorado's marijuana year is this weekend, April 20 (4:20 being another nickname for marijuana). [My 420 Tours CEO and founder J. J. Walker] says one of his goals is 'to turn [the multi-event] World Cannabis Week into the South by Southwest of the industry.'

"It's certainly expanded since last year. The High Times Cannabis Cup (which judges the world’s best marijuana-based products) moved to a new, larger venue and sold out all of its 40,000 tickets. Other events around town include a two day rally headlined by performers Wyclef Jean and B.O.B. (estimated attendance up to 100,000) and a concert at the famous Red Rocks amphitheater."

Bender added that the housing and construction industries are booming in Colorado. Many people are moving to the state to take advantage of legal marijuana, increasing the demand for apartments and other types of homes. Commercial rental rates for properties that could be uses as dispensaries or growers' warehouses have also dramatically increased, which could have long-term benefits for at least some sectors of the state's economy..

The potential is there for marijuana tourism to have a positive impact on the people of Colorado in a variety of ways. Job creation, increased tax revenues and profits earned from selling marijuana products stimulating the state economy are just a few obvious examples. The annual 420 events take those financial benefits to another level by encouraging visitors to spend a lot of money at local businesses while they are in Denver or other communities to celebrate with other marijuana enthusiasts.

However, Saunders may be onto something with his suggestion that promoting an event that encourages drug use, and is attended by people who may be prone to committing crimes and engaging in other types of antisocial behavior, is not the most respectful way to celebrate a major Christian holiday. For many Christians, all the enthusiasm for 420 expressed by online journalists and other on the Internet or by people who plan on attending rallies, may take too much attention away from the religious significance of that other thing that will be happening on Sunday.

The Easter holiday has been thoroughly taken over this year by people who are more interested in celebrating legalized marijuana than they are in the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus. A Seattle, Wash. restaurant chain called Lunchbox Laboratory sent 15,000 people on their email list an ad depicting a 420 version of Christ holding one of their burgers and a lit joint. The Huffington Post recently ran a feature on cakes and other sweets from a company called Chronic Desserts that include large amounts of THC, the ingredient in marijuana that gets people high. A basic Google search reveals numerous 420 Easter memes and articles focusing on things such as family-friendly 420 events.

Generally speaking, people seem more interested in posting drug-related jokes on their favorite social media sites than they are in anything to do with Easter that goes beyond eating candy (an experience that may be enhanced by getting high, admittedly). People seem to be talking less than usual about what Easter means for Christians, or going to church, or anything that could even vaguely be considered religious. If The History Channel hadn't run special Easter-themed programming this weekend, one could be forgiven for thinking everyone had agreed to skip the religious observances and just find somewhere to buy legal marijuana instead.

This year is a special case, and Easter may be back bigger and better than ever in 2015. Still, it seems like people are a little too eager to talk about drugs instead of talking about Jesus during one of the only times of the year that some people bother to put much thought into why they believe or don't believe that Christ is the risen son of God. Is this evidence that Christianity has become less important to the average person in spite of many churches' desperate efforts to adapt to current trends in society and strive for more social relevance? Or does it just mean that the idea of the Easter Bunny getting stoned is kind of funny?

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