The term 420 has become interchangeable with marijuana so much so that it no longer functions as a code word. It is now widely recognized and ingrained in our popular culture.
The history of 420 has a different origin depending on what source is referenced. Some say it relates to a police scanner code for marijuana possession. It certainly is not related to Adolph Hitler’s birthday as some have speculated. It also does not originate with the Grateful Dead, although they helped popularize the term in 1990. In actuality, as Red Eyes Only points out, it involves a group of San Rafael teens. In 1971, 5 high school students would meet after school to smoke marijuana regularly at 4:20 pm.
While the true history of 420’s origin may not be as exciting as the speculation, there is no denying the numerical sequence’s impact. The term’s popularization and familiarity with many Americans matches the pace of marijuana’s growing support. Polling reveals that 58% of Americans supporting legal recreational use and 81% favor medical marijuana.
This popularity is catching on in all aspects of our society. Religious leaders, politicians, business owners, and patients have all called for an end to The War on Drugs. The Drug Enforcement Agency has issued a letter to the United States Senate indicating a plan to consider reclassifying cannabis this summer.
Will this be the final April 20th where our federal government views marijuana in as dangerous a light as heroin and LSD? Rescheduling marijuana will surely open up research and medical opportunities that many suffering patients desperately need, especially as costs related to healthcare and the Affordable Care Act are expected to rise even more this year. Rescheduling marijuana could also bring an influx of investment money as those looking to jump into the market could feel a greater sense of security. The industry would also see a great expansion with states feeling more confident in enacting legal cannabis programs without fear of federal interference. Surely this has to be part of the rationale for why the DEA is considering re-classification.
If marijuana is shifted to a schedule two substance, will 420 have the same appeal? No longer would it be a code for something illegal. Would we lose that sense of rebellion? If this is the last 4/20 where smoking marijuana is in direct violation of federal law then lets enjoy it, look forward to the future, and remember just how much work it took to get to this point.