420 - The Day to Celebrate Cannabis Culture

Stephen Andrews
20 Apr 2023

For all joint smokers, bong hitters, munchie eaters, weed graters, loving fathers of four plants, loving mothers of dabs, and all other witches and wizards out there who've discovered the magical powers of marijuana, 4:20 is a daily reminder on the clock, a silent notification that signals the body, the brain's synapses, it's time, it's time! That this day, too, shall not pass without a puff. When the same numbers align on the calendar for that one day of the year, April 20th, it becomes a holiday, a reason to celebrate and appreciate the gift of Cannabis even more, together with all other friends who like to toke.

You probably all know the story of how 420 (Four Twenty) began. It all started more than fifty years ago when a group of students came out with a ritual to smoke weed every day at 4:20 pm. The ritual spread like lightning and was quickly established as a code for smoking weed. Over the years, it grew into a centerpiece of cannabis culture. The fiber of community, a secret agreement between friends, roommates, or classmates; an invocation that the better hour of the day is almost here. 

Some popular theories also say that 420 was used by California police or that the numbers were a penal code for marijuana, but there's no evidence to back such claims. Even if it's true, it does little to romanticize the idea of getting high, the beauty in doing something that you are not supposed to, a sweet nightly transgression. 

Over the years, 420 also became a calendar thing. The one day in the year, April 20th, when we get to celebrate cannabis culture and the soothing therapeutic and recreational benefits this plant has given to millions of people around the globe. 

When marijuana becomes federally legal one day, could we have a national holiday on this day, too? Where we hit the road, go in nature, enjoying the sun and the breeze of early spring, tossing a footbag around with a Bob Marley song playing in the background. There is Doritos and a pack of Oreos in the picnic basket, all for later when the munchies hit. A can of beer or cola when you get thirsty. Yeah, that pretty much paints the perfect backdrop of how many of us ideate the celebration of 420. What a perfect world. Utopia of the mind. Don't we already do that?

Four twenty goes back all the way to the early 70s; that's when the term was first coined. The early 1990s saw a mass revival of mobilizations to smoke weed on April 20 at 4:20 pm. Cannabis lore further goes on to say that a group of Deadheads in Oakland handed out flyers with the invitation to do "420." 

The code word eventually also entered the corporate world. 420 became a secret signal to wind it off, announcement that the shift is over, and there's nothing else on your to-do list for the rest of the day but to get couch-locked, eventually starring at the ceiling while coming up with that great idea you will already lose by the following morning, busy to tie your tie or iron your shirt. 

In cannabis culture, 420 became a way to organize the day, find a break, or a polite time when everyone at home could come around for a puff. It's not necessarily that everyone smokes at 4:20 pm. Everyone has their own 420. Again, it's any convenient time to take that break, the acceptable time to sign out for the day. All kudos to all smoking buddies who do it all day, every day. 

There're a lot of reasons to celebrate this Four Twenty in particular. In reasons of law and regulation, we could now say that more than half of the population in the U.S. has legal access to recreational weed. Most legal markets in the country are successful, and the regulation, though not perfect, it's working and shifting the public views and acceptance of cannabis. We have come a long way forward since the age of prohibition. 

We also have more reasons to celebrate because of the acceleration of medical research. Scientists and researchers are tirelessly working, more than ever showing interest in cannabis and working on to devise new medicines and treatment plants for a set of diseases where cannabinoids are known to help bring at least a little bit of relief—acknowledging that this is a natural medicine worth giving a try. 

But apart from all those reasons, for all recreational users, the daily users, the habitual users, and god knows how many other polite and correct words we have for that, the most important thing to celebrate this Four Twenty is your reasons why you smoke weed. Hence the questions you can answer to yourself today: What does weed smoking mean to you personally? What would it be for you without smoking weed, without those brief 60 minutes a day where you forget how hard-bearing life can be? 

Happy Four Twenty, pal! (And don't bogart that joint when you smoke in a group of friends).

Stephen Andrews