At 4:20 p.m. this afternoon a certain pungent odor may arise along Humboldt Street in the Santa Rosa Junior College neighborhood.
Marijuana will be smouldering in many other places, as well, at 4:20 on 4/20 — April 20 — a day embedded in popular culture, or at last pot culture, as a high time to get high.
"Everybody knows 420," said Nicholas Aranda, 19, a Santa Rosa resident who posted a weed-burning invitation last week on Craigslist.
"Meet up at your local traffic circles & get high," Aranda's posting said, citing the "best areas" on Humboldt as the two blocks between McConnell and Silva avenues.
"I've just been telling people, &‘Dude, let's meet up on the streets,'" Aranda said in an uninhibited interview, considering the illegal nature of his intentions.
Others were more circumspect in discussing 420, which is variously defined as a "worldwide burn time," a "toker's New Year's Day" or simply as "national pot smoker's day."
High Times, the magazine devoted to its name, said 420 "is not so much a time or place as it is a state of mind. A stoned state of mind, to be specific."
Michael Spielman, executive director of Santa Rosa-based Drug Abuse Alternatives Center, said he's aware of the 420 phenomenon.
Marijuana can cause amotivational<NO1>cq<NO> syndrome, a "loss of motivation to accomplish things," said Spielman, whose nonprofit agency is the county's largest provider of addiction treatment services.
In youths age 12 to 17, marijuana consumption can inhibit emotional growth, as teens get stoned rather than deal with issues, Spielman said.
Ten percent of the general public has substance abuse problems with marijuana, alcohol and harder drugs as a whole, he said. For those who smoke pot or drink wine without negative consequences, "that's their business," Spielman said.
Peace in Medicine Healing Center, a Sebastopol pot dispensary, is holding a barbecue today with door prizes and workshops on medical cannabis.
"It's a time for cannabis users in general to rejoice," said Robert Jacob, the executive director. His interest, as a patients' advocate, is to bring medical marijuana "out of the shadows and into the light."
Medical cannabis "heals people in many ways," he said.
Peace in Medicine's float won second place in last year's Apple Blossom Parade, and Jacob wants nothing less than first place in Saturday's procession through downtown Sebastopol.
Mighty Quinn, a smoke shop on Santa Rosa Avenue, is celebrating 420 with a cigarette rolling contest, live glassblowing demonstrations and a sale on smoking accessories.
"It's a holiday for smokers to celebrate," said John Hurley, vice president and general manager. But he is explicit in saying the store "makes no distinction" about what folks put in their pipes, papers or vaporizers, be it tobacco, "beneficial herbs" or something else.
Pot smoking is not tolerated on the premises, he said.
Aranda, a Santa Rosa native who said he's enrolled in SRJC's computer networking program, has no such reservations. For 420 last year, Aranda said he camped out with friends in a creek bed behind Hidden Valley Elementary School and awoke for a smoke at 4:20 a.m.
Hardcore stoners, he said, like to celebrate "the first 4:20 of 420."
Today, he said, there just may be some smokers partaking of an "afternoon delight" at Franklin Park. Asked if he was concerned about tipping off the police, Aranda said: "We're not scared of the cops. It's just weed. All they do is take it away from you."