“Marijuana has gone mainstream,” said Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). Who can argue with that?
Today is April 20th, but to those who seek to de-stigmatize marijuana, it is also 4/20, a day to rally around weed, celebrate it, and use it.
For some, it’s about eliminating Parkinson’s tremors, chemotherapy-induced nausea, or grand mal seizures. For some, it’s about not using tax dollars to lock up their neighbors for a plant that isn’t particularly harmful nor dangerous. For others, it is, just like alcohol, a mild intoxicant used to alter one’s psyche to a more pleasurable state.
Why 420, or 4:20, or 4/20? Believe it or not, this worldwide phenomenon started with a group of high school pot smokers in San Rafael, California. In 1971 they congregated at 4:20 p.m. to find a rumored abandoned patch of pot plants. Thereafter, they would use the number to be able to discuss marijuana in mixed company discreetly, and it became popular amongst a local group who enjoyed the drug. OK., but how did it break worldwide and become a thing?
According to oral histories preserved by the Huffington Post from the original group of smokers who coined the term, it’s because of the Grateful Dead. The band established a base in San Rafael with a practice area a couple of blocks from the high school. Some in the group of weed afficianados became associated with the band and its members, and “as the Grateful Dead toured the globe through the ‘70s and ‘80s, playing hundreds of shows a year – the term spread though the Dead underground.”
What about the original group? Are they alive? In prison? They started smoking pot in high school – what’s become of them?
Dave is now a credit analyst and works for Steve, who owns a specialty lending institution and lost money to the con artist Bernie Madoff. He spends more time today, he says, composing angry letters to the SEC than he does getting high.
The other three have also been successful, Steve says. One is head of marketing for a Napa Valley winery. Another is in printing and graphics. A third works for a roofing and gutter company. “He’s like, head of their gutter division,” says Steve, who keeps in close touch with them all.
No word on whether this group will get together for today’s festivities, but millions of other Americans surely will. You can likely find a rally in your area to see what it’s all about, and whether Congressman Blumenauer is right.