- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 21, 2016


Well, it’s official: D.C. has gone to pot.

The nation’s capital is gearing up to host a first-ever event that surely will draw cougars, cubs, millennials, baby boomers and the sick under one roof. Call it Pot Day.

And if you want to know what happens to the thinking of a brain long-fried by pot smoking, look toward City Hall.

As you well know, the District stands among the many states and territories that have legalized pot, approved of its use as a medical drug and/or decriminalized it altogether. California stands as the first state to make one of those moves, and not to be outdone, D.C. is scheduled to stake its claim as host to the inaugural pot festival.

You read correctly. The inaugural National Cannabis Festival is scheduled to be held Saturday, and the venue is the D.C. Armory — home to the National Guard and, since the 1940s, presidential inaugural balls.

JFK and Jackie hit the dance floor there, Ronnie and Nancy trotted there, and Barack and Michelle did their thing there, too.

Can you imagine January 2017 at an Armory ball? Bill and Hill? The Donald and Melania? Ted and Heidi Cruz? Will the smoke have cleared?

The pot festival got the go-ahead from EventsDC, a government agency that, in addition to the Armory, handles such money-making venues as RFK Stadium and the Washington Convention Center for sporting, food and entertainment events; faith-based affairs; and business-related conventions and the like.

The vendors promoted for Pot Day will display a full array of how-to offers — everything from “nutritious” and “tasty” food items made with hemp to vaporizers, water pipes and other drug paraphernalia. You’ll even be encouraged to indulge your inner yogi. (Cannabis is promoted as a peace enhancer, remember?)

Don’t try to buy any marijuana, though. While a joint or two might be slipped into a bag along with your sales receipt, pot sales are not allowed. It’s still a federal offense (as it should be).

An issue of considerable concern on Pot Day is not merely the government-backed marijuana and hemp-related offerings, however, it’s the message the city is sending to young people.

On the one hand, city leaders preach nonsmoking policies and laws as a matter of life and death. Then, with the other hand, they hold the National Cannabis Festival on government land with an entertainment lineup that includes De La Soul, a hip-hop group, and the homegrown go-go group Backyard Band (one of my faves). These groups draw fans across the generations.

The message: “Come young, old and in-between. Smoke, toke, inhale and bounce your rump to the beat. Second-hand smoke? No problem.”

What’s also conflicting is that one of the District’s premier marijuana advocates, D.C. Council member David Grosso, is scheduled to deliver remarks at the festival.

This wouldn’t be newsworthy but for the fact that Mr. Grosso also is chairman of the Education Committee and has failed to appropriately address the anti-violence and academic reforms that provide safe and smart public schoolchildren.

Indeed, after-school brawls among bands of students have been a problem for several years. Sober deliberations would have led to parents, students and faculty being the problem-solvers. Instead, school officials changed the start and end times at selected schools.

This is what happens when your pot pushers and suppliers are one and the same.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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