4/20: National Weed Holiday Explained

Yo. You got some tree? Some OG KUSH? The devil’s lettuce?

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ll fill you in. I’m talking about weed. Whether or not you smoke or even agree with it, it’s hard to ignore – especially with today being 4/20.

Before I even begin to touch the fact that I think 4/20 is obnoxious and overdone, there’s a lot of things I could say about the drug in general.

Marijuana has slowly made its way into the mainstream, starting off as a hippie drug and being referenced in Cheech and Chong movies to rap music to now being legal in some way in most of the United States.

While a few states have legalized both recreational and medical use, the question is ongoing for Ohio. The entire thing is a tedious argument between older generations that are continuously denying whether or not they smoked (my own father still remarks that his high school life was a lot like ‘That 70’s Show’ but whenever I ask about smoking he avoids the question completely and changes the subject) and younger generations that realllllly don’t see it as a huge deal. It was a hot ballot item and while it’s decriminalized in Ohio, the monopoly idea that went with it ended up screwing us over as a state in the long run.

I honestly never knew much about smoking until I came to college. Yes, I was the stereotypical rural high school girl that was adorably naive. My friends on the weekends would go to the next town over, drink coffee at 10:30 p.m. and walk around downtown thinking we were really cool. (Weird how I used to drink coffee at 10:30 for fun and now it’s a survival tactic. Huh.) But anyways, the first time I ever saw anyone smoking was the beginning of my sophomore year of college. Of course I’d walked by it and smelled it, and had watched people from my dorm get hauled off for possessing it, but I never had seen it directly in front of me.

Regardless of if I did or did not smoke, I have a lot of opinions about marijuana. The first is that almost every “hugs not drugs” argument falls short of being true. Unlike actual street drugs, marijuana is like everyone’s likeable, trustworthy older cousin. Honestly just trying to have a good time. In the last 100 years there’s never once been an overdose on marijuana and no one has died when smoking it pure.

As for the arguments about medical marijuana, I can say that from the point of view of someone who had to watch both of her grandfathers suffer for a long time because of cancer, there’s no doubt in my mind it should be an option for their treatment. Watch anyone dealing with the big C, or another life threatening illness and tell me that trying to up their quality of living whether it numbs the pain or helps their appetite is a bad idea. I promise, when looking face to face you’ll think differently.

That leads me to my question however: why is 4/20 made to be such a massive deal? I know that it originates from five friends at San Rafael High School who would meet at 4:20 to go and smoke in the woods after school… but that’s it? Everywhere you go, whether it’s to tacky stores in the mall that sell “water pipes” or online with the “420 BLAZE IT!!!!!!” memes, it’s almost as if to be cool you have to praise this holiday and openly announce it. (Not to say that it’s not hilarious to walk around saying it ironically…. But there are definitely bigger issues with people who take it seriously.)

In a way, isn’t the holiday exactly what the older generations are worried about? They are quick to stereotype everyone who smokes as lazy and bored with little to no aspirations in life. While we’ve been doing a damn good job as millenials with shattering this common idea, the whole holiday kind of perpetuates it. People skip class and request off of work.

My point is, basically if you want people to stop thinking that we’re all just screw offs, you have to stop chalking it up next to Christmas and Easter and legal bank holidays.

So in conclusion: Yes, marijuana – run free, do what you want. As Jefferson Airplane once said “feed your head.” As for 4/20 – chill out.