It’s April 20th again, and people are all a-giggle about the date. I know what the conservatives are thinking: liberals are celebrating the birthday of their hero, Hitler!
But no, it’s actually the unofficial weed holiday. April 20th is associated with 4:20, which is somehow associated with the ideal time to smoke pot. Some say this was the time after school that kids met to get high, others say there are Grateful Dead connotations, and the most astute might realize that Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” has a numerological connection because 12 times 35 is… 420. Did I just blow your mind?
The origins of 4:20 are as hazy as the history of its criminalization: like most things related to pot, people have largely forgotten.
American cannabis policy is one of the strangest things you’ll ever see. It may never be legalized because it’s not in most people’s interest to legalize it. The drug cartels make a killing off the tax-free black market revenues. Police departments rely upon drug enforcement and fear-mongering to bolster their budgets. Users don’t even seem to care too much… about anything at all.
It took alcohol prohibition 14 years before people fought for its relegalization. Cannabis has been illegal for going on 85 years now. It is winked at by society. Mainstream TV and movies playfully depict its use. Even worse, there are consequences of criminalization.
It’s easier for many minors to acquire cannabis than alcohol or tobacco. Keeping marijuana illegal turns it into a gateway drug, as users scoff at the warnings of other drugs and are also put in contact with other users and dealers who can provide access. Criminalizing something ubiquitous endows law enforcement with the power of discretion, so white college students are verbally warned while black youths are arrested on suspicion.
Famous and successful cannabis smokers include George Clooney, Hunter S. Thompson, Salvador Dali, Oliver Stone, Popeye, Willie Nelson, Macaulay Culkin, Queen Victoria, Johnny Depp, Snoop Doggy Dog, Zarathustra, Woody Harrelson and Al Gore. Famous non-potheads include Genghis Khan, Joseph Stalin, Attila the Hun, Napoleon, and Adolf Hitler. Some say they may not have been motivated to be so evil… had they only smoked pot (medicinally, of course).
It’s strange we decided to legalize marijuana for medicinal use first. Morphine, methamphetamines, and even cocaine are medically used in some capacity, though admittedly not for any disease as humorously named as “glaucoma.” California will be voting to legalize cannabis outright, which is good… because no one should have to tolerate Californians while sober.