As this Guardian story points out, behind the situational humor lies a more serious narrative about cannabis legalization in the USA…..
At approximately 4.20pm, the mayor of Jamaica, a town of 217 people in central Iowa, was arrested along with her husband for growing marijuana in their home.
Police arrived at their front door without a warrant on 16 January, reportedly in search of an 18-year-old wanted for shooting a woman in nearby Ames. According to the Guthrie county police, the “overwhelming odor of raw marijuana” led to the discovery of a large crop of marijuana plants. The couple was arrested, and LaDonna Kennedy stepped down from her position as mayor shortly after.
The initial reporting by Iowa media, largely sourced from Guthrie county authorities, had all the low-stakes scandal and situational irony to make a trending news story on social media. The story took off, with many articles noting the time of the arrest in the lead of their story (420 is shorthand for cannabis), while the Kennedys were besieged by the media in the wake of their arrest.
Like many crime reports that explode across the digital news ecosystem with an amusing headline, the initial articles didn’t tell the whole story. After the buzz faded, a small, close-knit community was left divided, and a middle-aged couple who had devoted their entire lives to this town faced the prospect of prison time for self-medicating using a substance that in many other states is legal, and in others decriminalized.
But the Kennedys’ arrest not only turned their lives upside down, it revealed the fault lines of a community – ones that reflect a growing tolerance for marijuana even in America’s rural heartland that stands at odds with its more conservative leadership
Read the full story at