420 Day: Who Started The Marijuana Celebration Ritual, and Should Weed be Legalized?

Cannabis—a way of life for some and a controversial topic for others. But there's no doubt that it has the potential to affect everyone in the U.S., whether it's the politicians debating legalization or cancer patients trying to get medicinal marijuana.

On the lighter side of marijuana culture, April 20 has become known as "420 Day," a reference to the now mythical moment when weed smokers gather together to bring a relaxing close to their day.

How Did 420 Day Start?

In 1971, five high school students—Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich—in San Rafael, California, had a plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop they had learned about.

They set 4:20 p.m. as their meeting time and used the phrase "4:20 Louis" as their code when referring to the plan. Eventually, it was shortened down to "420."

The high schoolers also had links to the band Grateful Dead, via Reddix's older brother who was friends with band member Phil Lesh, according to Associated Press. This apparently led to backstage marijuana smoking sessions with the band's roadies and crew, who picked up on the code word.

The real spread of the code phrase began when a Grateful Dead flyer advertised "420" as the password for stoner culture. While it remained for years in the realm of weed mythology, more recently the high school friends have gathered evidence for their claims, which were apparently convincing enough for the Oxford English Dictionary to immortalise it in their lexicon, Associated Press reported.

How Do People Celebrate 420 Day?

There are several ways to celebrate 420 Day. Most people will settle for a smoke at 4:20 p.m., while others will attend festivals or take up special deals associated with the day.

In Colorado, there is the Mile High 420 Festival that "draws advocates from around the world." Special guests include T.I. and Jermaine Dupri. There is also a "cannival" in Colorado on April 20 which starts with yoga and includes a canna-sermon.

You can find more events using Leafybuyer.

Is Marijuana Legal?

Despite being legal recreationally in 10 states and medicinally in well over 30, cannabis remains completely prohibited by the U.S. federal government. But polls have shown that a significant majority of Americans support legalization, with bipartisan efforts moving forward in Congress to end prohibition.

President Donald Trump has suggested that he would be supportive of measures to legalize the plant, and analysts have pointed to the passage of the Farm Bill, which legalized hemp cultivation, as a positive step toward possible marijuana legalization.

In Las Vegas, owners of Planet 13, the world's largest cannabis dispensary, have added a pizzeria and coffee house showing the desire to make cannabis a normal part of everyday life.

Outside of the U.S. there are many countries that might move to legalize marijuana in 2019.

Should Marijuana Be Legalized?

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, "for many seriously ill people, medical marijuana is the only medicine that relieves their pain and suffering."

Marijuana has been shown to alleviate symptoms of a variety of serious medical conditions including cancer, AIDS, and glaucoma, and is often an effective alternative to synthetic painkillers.

Kevin Sabet, a former White House advisor on drug policy, thinks that the move to legalize cannabis is no longer coming from grass-roots groups, but from corporations. He told Newsweek: "I've been studying this issue for a long time and, at first, I think it is easy to think that this move to legalise weed is about social justice, getting people out of prison, or even civil right and personal rights.

"[But] the more you look into it, it's about industry and industry that is about money, to me legalisation equals money money money and not money for the state or average American, but money for a handful of corporations following same playbook as big tobacco."

Sabet goes on to say, "Why would we want to turn it over to them by legalising it? I don't understand."

The World Health Organization (WHO) suggested in February 2019 that marijuana should be "rescheduled" within international law given the mounting evidence showing that the drug can help with the treatment of several medical issues.

The WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence recommended that cannabis resin and other marijuana products should be removed from the Schedule IV category of the U.N. Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961—a landmark international treaty designed to restrict the production and supply of specific compounds.

420 Day: Who Started The Marijuana Celebration Ritual, and Should Weed be Legalized? | U.S.