Pot Capitals 2011

Wednesday is 4/20, the day when marijuana enthusiasts light up and celebrate all things green. To mark the occasion, The Daily Beast again crunches the numbers to determine the 40 highest cities. Will Eureka win again?

#1, Tallahassee, Florida

Population: 168,909
Regular users: 10.4%
Pot culture: 6 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 564
NORML chapter?: Yes

420 news: Good news for those trying to keep their toke-habit private. The Florida Supreme Court ruled last week that police must get a search warrant before using a drug-sniffing dog outside a residence.

#2, Boston, Massachusetts

Population: 625,304
Regular users: 9.94%
Pot culture: 9 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 276
NORML chapter?: Yes

420 news: Just in time for 4/20, a positive omen for Boston pot enthusiasts: The highest court in Massachusetts just ruled that cops cannot assume illegal activity simply from smelling the odor of burnt marijuana.

#3, Portland, Oregon

Population: 548,988
Regular users: 10.33%
Pot culture: 9 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 204
NORML chapter?: Yes

Pothead hangout: Last year the nation’s first smoke-in medical marijuana dispensary, the Cannabis Café in Portland, was still a novelty. More than a year later the Cannabis Café is still up and running, but a group of former state troopers are trying to restrict the amount of marijuana medical growers can have. “I want to go back to the intent of what voters wanted to do in 1998 and move that forward,” said state Rep. Andy Olson, a retired state police lieutenant who ran narcotics investigations. “Right now, I believe it is out of control.”

#4, Boulder, Colorado

Population: 98,737
Regular users: 9.6%
Pot culture: 10 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 323
NORML chapter?: Yes

Academics: The University of Colorado at Boulder ranks No. 6 in the nation for marijuana use, according to The Princeton Review’s annual “Reefer Madness” ranking—and this year the school topped Playboy’s ranking of top party schools in the country. Of course, the school also has its annual 4/20 smoke-out, a gathering of 15,000 students and one large, potent, ever-present cloud.

#5, Detroit, Michigan

Population: 916,133
Regular users: 10.78%
Pot culture: 5 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 236
NORML chapter?: Yes

420 news: Federal drug enforcement agents last week raided several medical marijuana dispensary offices in the Detroit area, superseding a state law legalizing medical marijuana. “It’s a brand-new investigation,” one agent said.

#6, Burlington, Vermont

Population: 38,630
Regular users: 10.88%
Pot culture: 8 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 119
NORML chapter?: No

Local royalty: Jam rock band Phish. No special 4/20 concert announced so far, so hometown fans will have to wait until Phish’s summer tour.

#7, Albany, New York

Population: 94,083
Regular users: 10.34%
Pot culture: 1 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 528
NORML chapter?: No

Munchies spot: Bomber’s Burrito Bar.

Mario Tama / Getty Images

#8, Manhattan, New York

Population: 1,629,054
Regular users: 9.6%
Pot culture: 5 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 656
NORML chapter?: Yes

Busted: Where had Manhattanites been getting their green? Possibly just across New York Harbor. Last week a pot operation worth $10 million per year and run out of a garage was busted in Staten Island.

#9, Bozeman, Montana

Population: 37,458
Regular users: 10.07%
Pot culture: 8 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 168
NORML chapter?: No

420 news: This could affect Bozeman’s standing as one of the nation’s leading pothead towns: Last month the Montana state senate repealed Montana’s medical marijuana law, overturning a 2004 voter referendum.

#10, Eureka-Arcata, California

Population: 42,390
Regular users: 8.51%
Pot culture: 10 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 431
NORML chapter?: Yes

Busted: Over the hills and through the redwoods, pot is big business in Humboldt County. County sheriffs entered a home last week and found 9 pounds of marijuana, 12 grams of concentrated cannabis, and an assortment of other narcotics and weapons.

#11, Bristol-Newport, Rhode Island

Population: 46,736
Regular users: 12.17%
Pot culture: 1 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 220
NORML chapter?: No

Academics: Trying to make money like so many college students before him, a Salve Regina University student was found with nearly 23 ounces of bud and arrested for selling pot earlier this month.

#12, Providence, Rhode Island

Population: 172,519
Regular users: 11.18%
Pot culture: 1 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 194
NORML chapter?: No

420 news: On the flip side of the Newport college student bust, legislators in the state capital with dollar signs in their eyes are considering legalizing marijuana for recreational use in Rhode Island.

#13, San Francisco, California

Population: 797,271
Regular users: 9.27%
Pot culture: 10 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 184
NORML chapter?: Yes

4/20 celebration: Everywhere, but notably Hippie Hill. Did we mention everywhere?

Andre Jenny / Newscom

#14, Laramie, Wyoming

Population: 28,051
Regular users: 9.9%
Pot culture: 1 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 378
NORML chapter?: No

Busted: Laramie law enforcement, led by Larimer, Colorado county Sheriff Justin Smith, put activists on notice this month during a Kiwanis Club event at which he expressed skepticism about medical marijuana operations. “When they opened the gates to the clinics a couple of years ago,” Smith said of dispensaries opened in neighboring Fort Collins, Colorado, “they basically legalized marijuana in the state.”

#15, Hilo, Hawaii

Population: 48,053
Regular users: 9.44%
Pot culture: 7 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 290
NORML chapter?: No

Pothead hangout: The THC Ministry, which preaches that there are, in fact, two higher powers. The ministry took a blow last year, however, when federal agents indicted the church’s leaders. Founder Roger Christie will face drug-trafficking charges in July.

Bill Husa, Chico Enterprise-Record / AP Photo

#16, Chico, California

Population: 83,763
Regular users: 9.65%
Pot culture: 6 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 198
NORML chapter?: No

Academics: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. California State University-Chico topped Playboy’s annual top party school ranking in the list’s inaugural year, 1987. This year, CSU-Chico doesn’t even crack the top 10. Still, by our standards the city ranks as one of the most pot-loving in the country.

#17, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Population: 71,621
Regular users: 8.54%
Pot culture: 8 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 275
NORML chapter?: No

4/20 news: Medical marijuana nonprofits in Santa Fe are finding out just how much bureaucracy can get in the way of dispensing legal marijuana. A lawsuit filed by six groups in early April claims that the state’s number of authorized dispensaries is nowhere near enough to meet demand. “Now patients either have to do without medical marijuana or they buy it elsewhere—from an illegal source,” said Paul Livingston, an attorney for the groups. “It’s hard to see where the focus is on a patient and the patient’s suffering.”

#18, Juneau, Alaska

Population: 30,777
Regular users: 9.55%
Pot culture: 7 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 81
NORML chapter?: No

Legal high: Alaska residents continue to enjoy lax possession laws, with no penalty for having 1 ounce or less in a residence, with or without a prescription.

#19, Seattle, Washington

Population: 594,005
Regular users: 8.33%
Pot culture: 10 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 234
NORML chapter?: Yes

Local royalty: Vivian McPeak, co-founder of Seattle Hempfest.

#20, Oxnard, California

Population: 183,765
Regular users: 9.65%
Pot culture: 5 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 172
NORML chapter?: No

420 news: Oxnard political leaders voted to allow medical marijuana within their city limits last year, but the medical marijuana crowd got some bad news this month when it was reported that two marijuana candy bars showed up in local schools. One student gave one of the bars to an unsuspecting teacher, and that student is being charged criminally.

#21, Springfield, Massachusetts

Population: 153,170
Regular users: 9.66%
Pot culture: 1 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 194 NORML chapter? No:

Busted: A home-invasion victim ended up a suspect last week when police found him on his kitchen floor with a gunshot wound, smoking a cigarette. Cops found 15 pounds of pot, and $5,000 in Iraqi money. “Why he has Iraqi money I don’t have a clue,” a police sergeant said.

#22, Ithaca, New York

Population: 29,821
Regular users: 8.5%
Pot culture: 6 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 476
NORML chapter?: No

Munchies spot: Viva Taqueria, across from the Ithaca Commons.

#23, Bangor, Maine

Population: 31,373
Regular users: 9.48%
Pot culture: 1 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 299
NORML chapter?: No

Local royalty: Horror novelist and legalization proponent Stephen King.

Getty Images

#24, Sacramento, California

Population: 456,394
Regular users: 8.93%
Pot culture: 8 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 158
NORML chapter?:No

Local royalty: Short-story author Raymond Carver was famously dependent on several substances, including marijuana.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

#25, Rochester, New Hampshire

Population: 30,568
Regular users: 9.12%
Pot culture: 6 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 209
NORML chapter?: No

Busted: Plainclothes cops arrested a 21-year-old Justin Richardson last week after he made moves to light up right in front of them. “Richardson was parked next to the officers and was holding some marijuana and a glass pipe which he was about to smoke,” police said.

Stew Milne / AP Photo

#26, Warwick, Rhode Island


Population: 85,383
Regular users: 9.66%
Pot culture: 1 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 169
NORML chapter?: No

Legal high: With medical marijuana legal in Rhode Island, Warwick was slated last month to become home to one of three brand new state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries.

Rebecca Catlett, Press & Sun Bulletin / AP Photo

#27, Binghamton, New York

Population: 44,803
Regular users: 8.5%
Pot culture: 1 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 351
NORML chapter?: Yes

Busted: Earlier this month, an area man called police to say he was dying—but when cops showed up, no one at the man’s house needed help. The police did find 7 pounds of marijuana in the home.

#28, Buffalo, New York

Population: 273,335
Regular users: 8.36%
Pot culture: 1 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 512
NORML chapter?: Yes

Local royalty: Rick James, funk crooner behind musical ode to marijuana “Mary Jane.”

AP Photo

#29, Portland, Maine

Population: 63,153
Regular users: 8.83%
Pot culture: 6 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 164
NORML chapter?: No

4/20 celebration: Taking a page from Rhode Island, a rally is scheduled in Portland to support a bill that would legalize marijuana in Maine. “It is time to stop turning otherwise law-abiding people into criminals, begin taxing marijuana for commercial sale, and refocus our criminal justice resources toward issues that are truly devastating communities,” said state Rep. Diane Russell of Portland.

AP Photo

#30, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Population: 1,531,112
Regular users: 6.87%
Pot culture: 6 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 515
NORML chapter?: Yes

Legal high: The city of cheesesteaks and the Liberty Bell was also the first Pennsylvania city to decriminalize marijuana.

#31, Gainesville, Florida

Population: 115,146
Regular users: 7.02%
Pot culture: 8 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 408
NORML chapter?: No

Busted: Oakland Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphy Jr., a former University of Florida star, was arrested in Gainesville last week for unlawfully having Viagra—but it’s not the first time Murphy has tangled with the law. Murphy, while still a Gator in 2006, was arrested for marijuana possession.

#32, Berkeley-Oakland, California

Population: 499,670
Regular users: 8.23%
Pot culture: 10 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 152
NORML chapter?: No

Academics: The birthplace of the Tax Cannabis movement, Oakland is also the location of Oaksterdam University, where students have been learning to grow pot since 2007.

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

#33, Newburgh, New York

Population: 28,212
Regular users: 7.7%
Pot culture: 6 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 481
NORML chapter?: No

420 news: Earlier this year, an attempted robbery involving a quarter-pound of marijuana left two men with stab wounds another shot, though all were expected to survive.

Getty Images

#34, Watertown, New York

Population: 27,331
Regular users: 8.49%
Pot culture: 1 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 311
NORML chapter?: No

Busted: A Watertown man was charged last month with marijuana possession—no real surprise there—but he was also found with three throwing daggers, a parole violation based on an assault conviction.

iStockphoto

#35, Atlanta, Georgia

Population: 515,843
Regular users: 6.43%
Pot culture: 4 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 539
NORML chapter?: Yes

Pothead hangout: CAMP headquarters—Campaign Against Marijuana Prohibition.

#36, Syracuse, New York

Population: 139,386
Regular users: 8.05%
Pot culture: 1 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 554
NORML chapter?: No

Busted: Law enforcement in Syracuse broke up a major marijuana and other drug ring last month in a sweep that netted 2 pounds of marijuana and 70 marijuana plants.

Richard Sennott / Landov

#37, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Population: 379,499
Regular users: 7.83%
Pot culture: 6 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 301
NORML chapter?: No

4/20 celebration: Loring Park.

#38, Cincinnati, Ohio

Population: 332,572
Regular users: 7.6%
Pot culture: 6 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 337
NORML chapter?: No

Busted: Big time. Willie S. Maddox and Misti C.Lawson were arrested with 30 pounds of marijuana.

#39, Anchorage, Alaska

Population: 280,389
Regular users: 8.26%
Pot culture: 7 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 72
NORML chapter?: No

Legal high: Medical marijuana is legal in Alaska, and the state generally has lax enforcement of marijuana, but still some users seek synthetic alternatives known as K2 and Spice. Not in Anchorage, though, which long ago outlawed synthetic pot—and two days ago, the state agreed to do the same by the summer.

iStockPhoto.com

#40, Jacksonville, Florida

Population: 802,843
Regular users: 6.29%
Pot culture: 6 out of 10
Arrests per 100,000 residents: 978
NORML chapter?: No

Busted: Two middle-aged men were arrested last week at a Jacksonville home after one of them consented to a police search and, lo and behold, 19 marijuana plants were discovered.