While 420, the unofficial holiday for all things weed started as a secret code between some teens, it’s become so much more in the past few years.
As cannabis becomes more accepted in society as states move to legalize recreational and medical marijuana, 420 has become commercialized. Major brands and even police departments are piling on, but instead of celebrating, they’re turning pot use into a joke, and it’s not always funny.
The Wyoming Police Department caused a stir on Twitter on Thursday with a jokey 420 tweet. “Undercover #420 operations are in place. Discreet traps have been set up throughout the city today,” the tweet read. Attached was a photo of a cop holding a large net, ready to catch a stoner, cartoon style. The trap? A bunch of video games and junk food, you know, because people who smoke pot have the munchies, play video games all day, and are stupid.
While getting offended at stoner stereotypes is enough to enrage the cannabis community that has tried desperately to turn its image from a college party to a lifestyle brand in recent years, this tweet from a police department has deeper problems. Somehow the Wyoming, Minnesota, police department think it’s OK to crack jokes about cannabis being harmless, even using the hashtag #Happy420, but the punchline is that they’ll still lock you up for it.
Though it’s decriminalized to an extent, cannabis is very much illegal in the state of Minnesota. Possessing more than 42.5 grams of marijuana (about one marijuana plant) is a felony, and can land you in jail for five years with a $10,000 fine. The state’s medical marijuana laws are also incredibly strict, making it difficult for people to use cannabis for medical purposes.
While some found the tweet hilarious, others found it inappropriate for cops to joke about cannabis where it’s illegal.
But people get mad at everything, right? Sure, but it’s important to remember that thousands of people are currently imprisoned in the U.S. for cannabis related charges. Locking people up for holding a small amount of weed has ruined people’s lives, broken apart families and cost the public and taxpayers countless dollars. Joking about locking people up for weed isn’t funny, especially coming from a police department that wants to do exactly that.
For this police department to make a joke out of something that has caused real fear, derision, and permanent consequences in communities is, at least, tone-deaf and, at most, super offensive.
The department did try to backpedal a by tweeting out resources for substance abuse.
All jokes aside, substance abuse is a real issue. We use tongue in cheek humor to bring attention to those issues.
— Wyoming, MN Police (@wyomingpd) April 20, 2017
Sadly, this isn’t the first time the the Wyoming, Minnesota police cracked a stoner joke. The department tweeted the same lame joke thing last year.
So could these tweets show that the Wyoming police don’t care much about enforcing cannabis laws? Could it show that they are totally chill, and know that it’s not something to be put in jail for? Sure. But that’s ruined with the image of a cop catching a cannabis user with a net.