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4/20 is a holiday and 4/20 is a public protest. It is a day when people who appreciate cannabis go beyond their fear and out themselves by consuming in public. Yes, it is about getting high and feeling happy, but more importantly it is about letting go of fear and finding community.
Dr. Mitch Earleywine:
My head hit the smooth pillow, ready to dream on 4/19, after helping my daughter with fractions. Ratios bounced my brain. Somehow 4/20 was circled in red, on a big calendar above my bed. As was 2/10 and 1/5, and the other way, too. Down the year. Later and later and later. But there was no 8/40, (nor a rhyme for forty). So it must be 9/10. But wait! August has 31 days. So it would mean 9/9. Which connected to 1/1 and 2/2 and 3/3. And so on. Until every day had a little 4/20 in it, just as I fell asleep.
April 20th has always been a strange day for me. I went to high school in Colorado, in the same district and 13 miles away from Columbine High School, I was a freshman in high school when two gunmen opened fire at the high school which was a 15 minute drive away from mine, and killed 13 people. It has always difficult for me to truly get into the celebration of 4/20.
I ended up going to college at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the day held a holiday-esque sense of excitement for the first two years, we would save our keef for months so that our resident blunt-guru could roll the perfect double honey blunt. 3000+ people would pile on to Ferrand Field at the university to ring in the weed new year.
The University did not enjoy the negative stigma that the 4/20 festivities were attracting and started blocking off the field and using police (which didn’t work), they turned the sprinklers on the revilers (which also didn’t work), they even tried using a foul-smelling fertilizer in an attempt to thwart the then illegal marijuana smoking. After seeing the ridiculous lengths the university was going to stop people from smoking and the even more ridiculous lengths people were going to smoke together on a field, the whole thing started to seem kind of…. ridiculous.
A few years later in graduate school my best friend Rachel Hoffman was murdered, forever changing my views on life, including my views surrounding 4/20.
I have found it difficult to celebrate when people continue to be victims of the drug war. Or when I hear of a family who has to move across the country – leaving their friends and family behind, as a last hope to stop the debilitating seizures my heart can’t help but break. It’s hard to celebrate when your heart is breaking.
The term “420” has always represented Spring, a renewal of life and a reminder of my mother, who introduced me to the benefits of cannabis. She has been gone 17 years now, but celebrated then as we will in 2014, by burning incense and sage, while meditating and medicating, the same as every year. It is not a reason to party in our family, it is a day of remembrance.
In a few more 4/20’s, McDonald’s will be offering a Happy, Happy Meal™. The mainstream is swimming closer to our shores than ever before and that can only mean more human noise pollution and commemorative t-shirts. Like the Hash Bash and other paleo-smoke-ins from past days, pioneers will be forgotten as new heroes rise. This Sunday Golden Gate Park is going to turn into our own Potachella. 55,000 heads with mobile sound systems on wagons, coolers and kegs, and pounds of kind bud in tow are coming together for the purpose to share a hit with a stranger when that second hand hits twenty after four bells.
Soon the tie-dye circles of tribes may give way to the squares of inevitable domain, with a sprinkle of gang behavior spiking the mix.
Meanwhile somewhere in Maine two stoners are passing a joint of fine weed going, “Oh yeah, it’s 4/20, man!”
“That’s my favorite holiday.”
And the wheel turns…
What is this 4/20 thing?
If not simply a date or a time.
And would a parade of friends on any other day,
Still smell so sublime?
On what other day can we see music, hear joy,
Sense the universal feelings evoke?
All of that which separates us,
Takes reprieve in a cloud of smoke.
For now we unite only yearly; in heart, in mind, in energy,
To intermingle in merriment this benevolent way to Be.
We’re tryin’ to make it 4/20 … every day of the year,
So hurry c’mon over, there’s room on the couch with me.
To many in the cannabis community 420 is a high holy day for partying, but for me 420 has a different meaning. To me it’s a day of celebration and thanksgiving. A high holy day to celebrate the difference that cannabis is making in my son’s life and the lives of many other children who until recently were looked at as lost causes destined to live a life of misery. In the words of my epileptic son, “Cannabis has given me my life back” and he is so right. It has changed our family in the best way possible. So 420 here we come, grateful for seizure free days and nights.
To me, 420 represents unity. When we opened our business, 420 Kingston®, we hoped the term “420” would serve like a shining, green beacon for the community. It’s a way of saying “we’re cannabis-friendly,” without having to say anything much at all. It’s a special hippie-code that has spread across generations, different religions, different races, and political affiliations, bonding them together to one friendly, happy unit. 420 is a club anyone can join, and everyone is always welcome.
For me, 4/20 is indeed something to celebrate but it is also a time to remember. I will remember my first true mentor for female activism, Cheryl Miller from Toms River, NJ. I will not think about her reclined wheelchair nor will I remember that she was paralyzed from MS or that she could barely speak above a whisper. What I will remember is the light that glowed from her entire being, I will see her eyes telling me things that could not be translated with mere words. I will remember her strength and the love her husband Jim had for her. I will remember holding her delicate hands when they ached and trying with all my will to send her energy from my own hands to help make the spasms stop. I will remember eulogizing her in 2003 with ‘Invictus’ and being followed by a fire and brimstone preacher who told us we might never see her again if we did not accept Christ as our savior. I will remember thinking “Christ is most likely nice and I will see my activism mama again.” I will smile wistfully. I will touch my hand to the cage in which my heart resides. I will.
4/20 is the bast day of the year. Take a puff and have some cheer.
4:20’s a great time of day. It’s always 4:20 somewhere, they say!
4. 2. 0. Such serendipitous digits. Look for them everywhere, even Fenway’s far reach-its.
420? 420! It’s the bond that ties, while Catch-422 signifies government lies.
I really do hope that this 420 ditty hastens the end of cannabis prohibition just a little bitty.|
Last year on April 20, I spoke at the 5th Smoke Down Prohibition rally in Philadelphia. I’d spoken at the first Philly SDP, and there were only a handful of people there, so I could not believe how many people showed up on 4/20. The crowd stretched from the podium all the way across the mall, and the mood was celebratory and the air full of love and sweet smoke – and there was a lot of conversation about how the lack of police interference signified that prohibition was over in Philadelphia. The celebratory mood was shattered at the next Smokedown Philly event the following month – there were dozens of law enforcement officers ready and waiting, and most of the participants turned around and left when they saw how our “free speech” area had been fenced off like a cage. Having moved across the country, I was not at the 5/18 rally, and I watched online with tears in my eyes as my friends were violently arrested, with the crowd around them chanting “No victim, no crime.” I will always remember 4/20/13 as the last peaceful day of a short-lived era of civil disobedience events in Philadelphia, a beautiful celebration where advocates and activists tasted victory for a moment, and gave us a glimpse of what freedom might look like in the future.