Springville Mayor Dave Thomas is hosting a 420 event on his property in unincorporated St. Clair County. He says while he will not be partaking in marijuana, some people will be.

"We are going to celebrate one of God's gifts, a little plant," Thomas said.

The event will be the third annual 420 Fest at Little Canoe Creek Campground off Beulah Circle. It will be held at "Our Place," a spot Thomas says is peaceful and serene.

"We're out by the Creek," he said. "We're as far away from the road as possible. We're out in the woods."

Thomas said the number of attendees has doubled yearly, and he hopes the same is true this year. He said people will set up tents, hammocks, and chairs and enjoy the music. He said the event would be family-friendly.

"It's just a 420 Fest celebration just like they are doing all across the state," Thomas added. "So, does this mean they're all gonna be smoking pot? No, no not all. Not everybody partakes."

Thomas, who previously ran for governor and openly spoke to 1819 News about his marijuana use, said he is walking the walk and proving the platform was not for political purposes.

"It's really about walking the talk. This wasn't just a campaign thing," Thomas explained. "I mean come on. Look at the serious issues facing this state and this nation and we want to spend our limited resources and time on harassing adults making adult decisions for themselves on, you know a perfectly natural plant product that requires zero processing."

Representatives of the Alabama Cannabis Coalition will be in attendance and are helping organize 420 Fest.

The event will start whenever people get there Saturday, and the music begins at 2 p.m. They plan to quiet things down around 10 p.m.

Thomas said he used what God had given him to try to educate young people. He said in the past, young people who have struggled with or have been impacted by the opioid crisis have also enjoyed the peace that "Our Place" offers. Although he knows he will receive criticism, he told 1819 News that it's time to have a real conversation.

"We're not out here getting stupid," he said. "Actually, we're out here trying to inform and educate. You know, here we are putting on a 420 Fest and we're doing life right. In fact, I'm encouraging people to ask questions and make comments because if they want to have an intelligent, rational, informed conversation about drugs, drug addiction, that sort of thing, let's have one."

"If you want to have one about substance abuse, let's have one," he continued. "But substance abuse is not going to include just cannabis, we're going to include Twinkies. Now, if you want to talk about drug addiction, now we're talking about big pharma or heroin or cocaine, which are not natural products. They're derived from natural plants, but it takes a processing in order to get the final product. We are not comparing apples to apples. But if we want to rely on the propaganda of the past, we're wasting our time and I don't have time to waste."

"You know, I'm done with playing that game and that's why I say it's not just a campaign platform," he continued. "I'm living it every day. And I'm a living example of, I guess, success in spite of the rhetoric."

Thomas thinks the belief that cannabis is "bad" stems from indoctrination and brainwashing.

In Alabama, it is illegal to be in possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Lawmakers approved medical marijuana in 2021, but the rollout by the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission has been plagued with roadblocks.

In the meantime, Thomas said no matter how many people attend 420 Fest, they will enjoy themselves.

"We're going to have a good time unless somebody comes and shuts us down," Thomas said. "The only people that can do that are law enforcement because we're out in the county. There are no ordinances."

Thomas added he will not be partaking in marijuana during the event because he wants to maintain a clear mind so he can manage the situation.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

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