4/20 is an unofficial day where many around the world especially in the U.S celebrate marijuana, a drug that remains illegal in most countries. It is cherished by pot smokers/stoners as a reason to toke up with friends and massive crowds each year and celebrate their favorite drug.
There are a few theories to the origin of the national weed day even though the real origin remains a bit of a mystery.
It is said that the national weed day came out of a ritual started by a group of high school students in the 1970s. A group of Californian teenagers ritualistically smoked marijuana every day at 4:20 pm. The ritual spread, and soon ‘420’ became code for smoking marijuana.
Eventually 420 was converted into 4/20 for calendar purposes, and the day of celebration was born. (A group of Californians published documents giving this theory legitimacy, but it’s unclear if their claims are valid.)
One common belief is that 420 was the California police or penal code for marijuana, but there’s no evidence to support those claims.
Another theory is that there are 420 active chemicals in marijuana, hence an obvious connection between the drug and the number. But according to the Dutch Association for Legal Cannabis and Its Constituents as Medicine, there are more than 500 active ingredients in marijuana, and only about 70 or so are cannabinoids unique to the plant.
Whatever its origins, 4/20 has become a massive holiday for cannabis enthusiasts. What the holiday stands for varies from person to person. Some people just want to get high and have fun. Others see the day as a moment to push for legalization, or celebrate legalization now that more states are adopting it and it has popular opinion behind it.
Back in the 1970s, 4/20 was part of a smaller counterculture movement that embraced marijuana as a symbol to protest against broader systemic problems in the US, like overseas wars and the power of corporations in America.
In recent years, marijuana legalization activists have tried to bring a more formal aspect to the celebration, framing it as a moment to push their political agenda. Cannabis businesses also try to take advantage of the holiday, as they admit they’re already leveraging the holiday as another opportunity to promote the industry and its products.
Major rallies occur across states in the US, for instance it is particularly celebrated in places like Colorado, Washington state, and Washington, DC, Oregon, and Alaska where marijuana possession is legal.
By 2017, seven other additional states in the US (Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Rhode Island and Vermont) are reportedly likely to legalize cannabis. This week, Pennsylvania became the 24th state in the US to legalize medical marijuana.