Nebraska man wins right to pot-themed license plate

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 11:37 EDT
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A marijuana plant. Photo: Flickr user nerdy girl.
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The State of Nebraska will issue a custom license plate with the numbers 420 on it, after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) spoke up for a marijuana activist whose unusual request was denied.

All it took was a lawsuit.

Thanks to the ACLU of Nebraska, Frank Shoemaker, a resident of Holbrook, should be receiving his plate in short order. It will read “NE420,” according to The Omaha World-Herald.

Officials said they rejected his initial request based on a state law that prohibits “obscene or objectionable words or abbreviations.”

Despite their claim, Shoemaker insisted that denying his license plate order was tantamount to silencing political speech — an argument that held water with the attorney general.

Facing litigation that could have gone all the way up to the federal level, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning ordered the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue the plate.

April 20, or 4:20 p.m., while not obscene on its face, is viewed as something of a holiday for people who use marijuana regularly, or a time of day to light up.

Many cities in the U.S. and around the world host annual hemp festivals on April 20, where marijuana is used openly and without penalty. Since the mid-1970s, the numbers — always pronounced “four twenty” — have become something of a cultural meme.

Though 420 is most typically used to signify marijuana use, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was also born on April 20, 1889, and the Columbine massacre happened on the same date in 1999.

Photo: Flickr user nerdy girl.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly placed these events in Nevada.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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