04.20.10 12:05 AM ET
America's Most Stoned Cities
As pot smokers celebrate the holiday of all things marijuana, The Daily Beast crunches the numbers to determine the 40 highest cities. PLUS: VIEW OUR GALLERY of celebrities who toke.
April 20 is a date born out of many myths: It was police shorthand (“420”) for marijuana smoking, it was the time of a daily toking ritual of a high school crew in San Rafael, California, and it was an orchestrated event by Deadheads in the early ‘90s.
Regardless of origin, 4/20 is now universally known as the annual date of celebration for those with pot-smoking, counterculture pride. This year, 15,000 residents and students in Boulder will crowd together for the University of Colorado’s annual smokeout, marijuana magistrates will gather to judge the best medical marijuana at the annual Oly 420 Cup in Olympia, Washington, and the All American Health and Healing Cooperative will host a 420 Celebration fest in Los Angeles where, for $75, attendees can learn to clone plants, enter a raffle for five ounces of pot, and snag a photo-op in the “Garden of Weeden.”
But those aren’t the only cities with pot pride. The Daily Beast looked through data on more than 1,000 cities to find out which communities rate highest for getting high year-round. Many of the top 40 towns house large universities, where the habits of young students affect the overall atmosphere. Others are the places known for strong support of marijuana legalization and taxation, or are in one of the 14 states (six of which have dispensaries) that have legalized medical marijuana.
To compile the rankings, which encompass metro areas with at least 30,000 residents, we considered statistical data as well as a subjective valuation of each city’s pro-cannabis atmosphere:
• Sixty percent of our ranking was weighted based on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s most recent National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, which includes estimates of percentage of the population who used marijuana in the past month.
• Twenty percent derived from arrest data, based on marijuana possession and sale, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
• The final 20 percent was based on local pot culture. We asked CelebStoner.com publisher Steve Bloom (co-author of Pot Culture: The A-Z Guide to Stoner Language and Life and former editor of High Times) to score each of our top 50 cities, with 1 being the least pot-friendly and 10 being the most pot-friendly.
• Bonus: Communities with active NORML chapters (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) chapter received extra points.
Will Berkeley beat out Bozeman? Does Portland, Oregon, top Portland, Maine? Which city stands highest on 4/20? Click here for the results.
Clark Merrefield and Lauren Streib reported these rankings.