We Waited Decades for 4/20/20 and Then We Had a Pandemic
420. 4/20. 4.20. Four-Twenty. No matter how you write it out, it has long had a meaning in the cannabis community. It’s also always pronounced “four-twenty,” never “four hundred and twenty”, Never. The story goes that it was created back in 1971 by a group of high school friends in San Rafael, California who happened upon a treasure map that led to a hidden marijuana crop.
The group called themselves “The Waldos” because they always hung out by a “wall” where they met after school. At 4:20 PM they gathered to smoke weed and follow the treasure map to find the hidden cannabis booty. They said that they were smoking a lot of pot at the time and that half of the fun was just looking for this plot of land.
Well, they never found it, but continued to smoke a lot of pot and coined the term 420 as a code word to describe that it was time to go smoke more weed. They used the term and introduced it to all of their friends and everyone though it was cool to have a code word that the teachers and parents didn’t understand.
As their friends started using the term more and more, it spread farther and wider and one of the friends of a friend’s friend introduced the term to the Grateful Dead band. The band had a huge following of fans who called themselves “Deadheads” that followed them from city to city and concert to concert. Over time word spread of the mysterious 420 and it became the time of day when it’s perfect to go get high.
Then in 1990, Steven Bloom, the former editor of High Times Magazine and current publisher of CelebStoner.com and Freedom Leaf Magazine, saw 420 explained on a Grateful Dead flyer and then started using the term and introducing it to the masses.
Today it’s often used amongst pot smokers to see if someone else smokes pot also, as a way to ask without asking. It also describes places of business as “420 friendly” that either allow for or just don’t mind if people smoke weed there. It also created a few fairy tales about the number. And just for some clarification, it’s NOT the radio code for police to go bust a marijuana ring. It’s not the number of compounds found in the marijuana plant. It is also not the date that Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin died which quells yet another conspiracy theory.
It merely represents cannabis in all its glory. And April 20th (also known as 420) has become a worldwide holiday for pot smokers. Cannabis festivals, Hemp festivals, 420 Friendly cities and states around the world, all celebrate April 20th as kind of a “4th of July for Cannabis”. People congregate everywhere to share marijuana with each other and to celebrate the freedom to be able to smoke pot. Denver and San Francisco traditionally have the biggest celebrations with Washington state and Oregon following close behind.
And then came 2020. The whole month of April was going to be 4/20. And then the actual date of 4/20/2020 was going to be a worldwide celebration of weed anticipated to be the largest cannabis party EVER. You may have also heard that on 4/20/2020 at 4:20, there will be four 20’s.
Invitations went out. Celebrities and bands were secured almost a year prior to April 2020. I was invited to go to Puerto Rico to an event called Puerto Rico MedcannBiz. According to their website, The 2020 Puerto Rico MedCann.Biz is designed to empower patients, industry members, medical professionals, scholars, and any party interested in the success of medical cannabis treatment. Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, & Cypress Hill were hosting a big concert in Colorado.
The National Cannabis Festival was happening in Washington DC. The Sweetwater 420 Fest was planned in Atlanta, GA. The Hash Bash in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Electric Highway was scheduled in Alberta, Canada. Also in Canada was 420 Toronto at the Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. 420 Hyde Park in London England was scheduled. 420 Hemp Fest in Milan, Italy. Mile High 420 Festival was scheduled at Civic Center Park in Denver. 420 Hippie Hill was also scheduled at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco as usual. Even the Spliff Film Festival was happening in Seattle, Portland and San Fran. Vancouver was celebrating at 420 Vancouver, Spannabis in Spain, Expoweed Mexico in Mexico City, and the list goes on and on.
Nobody expected or planned for a Pandemic. When all of those 420 parties were conceived they were all trying to outdo each other with the biggest, the best and the brightest. And then COVID-19 happened. EVERYTHING WAS CANCELLED. All of it. Colorado, California, Michigan, Toronto, Milan, and every other 420 celebration was suddenly canceled. Organizers and stoners alike were devastated. How could this happen? What was the contingency plan?
Well you can’t keep a good stoner down for long and everything turned into a virtual celebration. People logged in to various venues spread out across the globe to partake online with their fellow stoners. Even though nobody could go anywhere, a ton of pot was still smoked during virtual gatherings everywhere. There was even an attempt to break a world record to have the most people smoke weed on a video chat.
I’m not sure if The Guiness Book of World Records has a category for that but it was definitely attempted. People from all walks of life and from all over the world, lit up and shared a virtual joint. It was actually quite beautiful and for a short moment it showed global solidarity to the cannabis movement, and to peace and love around the world.
The only thing that really changed was the fact that people were alone, yet together for one common goal… to sit in front of their computers or cell phones and smoke weed with other people from different parts of the planet. People logged in from everywhere and still had a good time smoking, eating and drinking weed all laughing and enjoying themselves while thumbing their noses to “the man”. The venues all lost money. The organizers all lost money. The local vendors all lost money, but nobody really cared, as long as they had some pot to smoke at 4:20pm on 4/20/2020.
So did the Coronavirus change 420 forever? I think it really just showed an incredible amount of resolve for people who wanted to be safe, but still pay homage to the plant that has helped them throughout the years. Whether you use it medically or recreationally, pot has affected all parts of your life.
By default you’ve become part of a community. A community that bands together to change laws, get people out of jail, and promotes the health and well being the cannabis plant can bring you. And some folks just want to get high. This pandemic actually made it more acceptable to use marijuana because it was deemed essential in all of the legal states so most all of the dispensaries stayed open.
So many people were looking for a place to go to celebrate and ended up staying home. Alone and yet together. That’s how it changed things. Usually smoking pot is a very social event where you share joints and pipes and bongs with the person right next to you. With the Coronavirus we can’t do that anymore. This year we all smoke alone in our homes, but together with the world.
I wonder what’s in store for 2021. Will we still be quarantined from live events or will this Covid-19 pandemic be over. Either way, you can always still puff, puff, keep. No more sharing!