child_friendly National Pot Smokers Day
Also known as
annually on April 20th
National Pot Smokers Day, commonly known as 4/20, celebrates the smoking of marijuana. On this day, some people smoke marijuana in the privacy of their own homes, while others smoke it openly. Large rallies take place across the country, especially in states where recreational marijuana is legal, such as California and Colorado. At these rallies and elsewhere, the focus of the day is often not just on smoking pot, but on pushing for legislation to further decriminalize marijuana. Historically a countercultural holiday, it is now becoming embraced by a larger demographic of people. It is ironic that the day was once used to protest against the stigma associated with marijuana, but now marijuana is more accepted by the general population, more states have legalized it, and pot businesses have gotten involved in sponsoring the day.
There are different theories as to how the holiday got started, and how "4/20" became associated with it. There was a false rumor that said marijuana contains 420 chemical compounds. There was another rumor that said "420" was a police dispatch code associated with pot smokers. Most likely 4/20 came about because of a group of students from California. In 1971, a group of high school students from San Rafael High School would meet at 4:20 to smoke marijuana. They called themselves the Waldos and would meet to do their smoking by a statue of Louis Pasteur. During the day they would say "4:20" to each other, indicating it was a day to meet, "4:20" soon became a codeword for pot smoking. Eventually 4/20 the day became associated with pot smoking too, just as 4:20 the time had.
Years later, one of the members of the Waldos, Dave Reddix, became a roadie for Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, after meeting him through his brother. At a Grateful Dead show, on December 28, 1990, flyers were passed out inviting people to toke up on 4/20. Steve Bloom of High Times magazine got one, and the magazine published it in 1991. This brought the day to the attention of the greatest share of pot smokers.
Likely by coincidence, an even earlier connection exists between 420 and mind-altering drugs. A 1939 short story titled "In the Walls of Eryx," by H.P Lovecraft and Kenneth Sterling, mentions "curious mirage-plants" that were similar to marijuana. In the story, the narrator comes down from an experience with the plants at 4:20. Regardless of why the holiday takes place on 4/20, you are sure to see puffs of smoke, red eyes, and people eating lots of snack foods.
How to Observe
Obviously, the best way to celebrate the day is to partake in the marijuana plant. It's probably a good idea to be up on the laws regarding marijuana in your state. Instead of sitting at home and chomping down potato chips in a cloud of smoke, while watching a stoner movie or reading High Times, you could head out to a public event. You could protest for the changing of marijuana laws, or attend the Cannabis Cup. If you would like to pay your respects to the originators of the holiday, you could visit the Louis Pasteur statue at San Rafael High School.