A police department in Minnesota brought some "tongue-in-cheek humor" to the 420 holiday on Thursday, sharing a tweet about "undercover" operations to catch marijuana users.
In an image that's been retweeted more than 85,000 times, an officer is seen wielding a net, skulking behind a "trap" that consists of munchies and video games. People seem to be forgiving of the department for playing into tired stoner stereotypes because the lighthearted post revealed a side of policing backed by marijuana reform advocates.
Though marijuana is only legal for medical purposes in Minnesota, the department didn't resort to scare tactics or intimidation on the cannabis holiday. In a follow up tweet, the department said it wanted to leverage 420 to "bring attention to substance abuse."
"If we can use a little bit of the entertaining value of social media and create a meme that helps open an opportunity to have a conversation with our community about substance abuse, we can be a resource to help you rather than an adversary looking to arrest you," Wyoming Police Chief Paul Hoppe told ATTN:. "I think we can accomplish some great things that way."
"Even with this post, the real issue isn't necessarily talking solely about marijuana — the real issue here for us is talking about substance abuse generally speaking."
In Iowa, a university police department and Ames police took a similar approach to the holiday.
"For law enforcement, we know 420 as National Smoke Marijuana Day like a lot of people do," Hoppe said. But he added that being in on the joke and using social media as it's meant to be used — to socialize, inform, and connect — represents a more effective way to foster productive conversations about issues that matter.