Happy 4/20! Today is April 20, 2018 (hence 4/20), which is a date that marijuana users and the cannabis culture enjoy celebrating. The term “420” dates back to a group of students in San Rafael, California in the 1970s. Today, the “holiday” is celebrated even more because of marijuana and medical marijuana’s legalization in many states across the United States. Read on to learn more about the history of 420 and see some of the best memes for the holiday.
This year’s 420 falls on Easter weekend, which makes it extra special.
Some people will be using their tax refund to celebrate the holiday.
And be careful, marijuana may cause intelligent thought, calmness, and peacefulness.
One phrase friends like to share goes something like this: “On the day of 420 I feel it is necessary to remind you all to be careful! Remember cannabis is dangerous because it’s illegal!” This is funny because it’s ironic. Historians generally agree that cannabis was the world’s largest crop until the late 1800s, used for fiber, lighting, oil, paper, medicine, and more, according to Ozarkia.
But around 1890, hemp was replaced by cotton as a major southern cash crop, due partially to the invention of the cotton gin, according to Narcocon.
The term “marijuana” was actually a racially charged term introduced around the 1920s. It was a term that some politicians used to try to curb legal immigration from Mexico, because many immigrants liked to smoke cannabis.
A 1930s propaganda film called Reefer Madness depicted melodramatic events around the use of marijuana that are completely inaccurate. Marijuana was federally criminalized by the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. It was the precursor to the 1970 Controlled Substances Act.
Here are some myths about marijuana that many still believe. First, it is not a gateway drug. Time reported in 2010 that scientists had discarded that hypothesis back in the 1990s. In 1999, the Institute of the National Academy of Sciences refuted the gateway drug idea as correlation not causation. They wrote in part:
Patterns in progression of drug use from adolescence to adulthood are strikingly regular. Because it is the most widely used illicit drug, marijuana is predictably the first illicit drug most people encounter. Not surprisingly, most users of other illicit drugs have used marijuana first. In fact, most drug users begin with alcohol and nicotine before marijuana — usually before they are of legal age.
In the sense that marijuana use typically precedes rather than follows initiation of other illicit drug use, it is indeed a “gateway” drug. But because underage smoking and alcohol use typically precede marijuana use, marijuana is not the most common, and is rarely the first, “gateway” to illicit drug use. There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.
In addition, the federal government has found over the years that the number of people who use marijuana far exceeds the number of people who use cocaine or heroin, and these studies too haven’t found causation. In fact, a study in the Journal of School Health from 2012 noted that there was more evidence of alcohol being a gateway drug than marijuana.
Also, marijuana is documented to be less dangerous than even alcohol, Mic.com reported. In 2010, 38,329 people died from drug overdoses, 22,134 died from pharmaceutical drugs, and 25,692 died from alcohol overdoses. But there wasn’t a single case of someone dying from a marijuana overdose. In fact, you’d have to ingest possibly hundreds of pounds of THC to get even close to a lethal dose, making it less lethal than water, Mic.com pointed out.
But all that aside, how did the 420 holiday itself begin? In 1971, a group of students in San Rafael, California used the term “420” to refer to a plan they had to search for an abandoned marijuana crop based on a grower’s treasure map, San Francisco Chronicle shared. They met every day at 4:20 to search for the crop. Over time, the term caught on with Grateful Dead fans called Deadheads. The term does not have any connection to Adolf Hitler’s April 20, 1889 birthday.
Marijuana legalization is increasing in states, whether it’s recreational legalization or medical. But federally, it is still under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The Controlled Substances Act listed marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Many presidential candidates are advocating for that to change, including Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard, Bernie Sanders, and Andrew Yang.