When Atlantans celebrate “420″ they’re likely quaffing a quality ale from homegrown brewer Sweetwater.
But, there’s another kind of homegrown getting buzz on April 20, referred to as “Marijuana Freedom Day” by many marijuana smokers and NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
I’ve only smoked when I’ve lost a bet (curse you Kent Hrbek!), and, like Clinton, I didn’t inhale. But, I am continually surprised by old college chums who have yet to give up the habit.
Say what you will about pot smokers, but they are a dedicated sort, and don’t seem to cause as much trouble as imbibers of legal drink. I’ve been tracking crime news for quite a while, and I don’t recall anything akin to the mayhem promised in “Reefer Madness.”
How did 420 come about?
Originally, 420 referred to a time of day, not a calendar date.
According to Wikipedia, the term was crafted by a group of teenagers in California way back in 1971. The group, who called themselves “The Waldos,” coined the phrase “4:20 Louis” as shorthand for a 4:20 p.m. meeting at a statue of Louis Pasteur at San Rafael High School.
The term didn’t get national play until 1998, when High Times Magazine wrote an article about The Waldos.
How are people celebrating today?
In California, medical marijuana dispensaries are offering “Old School” prices and expect to double their number of customers.
One dispensary is offering free weed.
“420 is the appreciation of the medicine and what it is and what it does,” said Tyler Grant, with Emerald Pathway in Fort Collins, Colo. “And it brings people together, kind of like St. Patrick’s Day.”
Unsurprisingly, lots of colleges will be the site of unofficial observances. Details were … sketchy.
Here are some facts from the Office of National Drug Control Policy:
** Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug; 41.5 % of Americans older than 12 have tried it.
** Gateway drug? Lots of debate, but the White House site says “62% of adults age 26 or older who initiated marijuana before they were 15 years old reported that they had used cocaine in their lifetime.”
** Approximately 47.5% of college students and 56.7% of young adults (ages 19–28) surveyed in 2007 reported lifetime use of marijuana.
** The average potency of marijuana has more than doubled since 1998.
** The use of marijuana can produce adverse physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral effects.
** According to a 2004 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of state and federal prisoners, approximately 12.7% of state prisoners and 12.4% of federal prisoners were serving time for a marijuana-related offense. This is a decrease from 1997 when the figures were 12.9% and 18.9%, respectively.
** 36.8 % of adults arrested and tested in Atlanta tested positive for marijuana use in 2008-2009. Atlanta was the only city in the U.S. where marijuana was not the top drug found in such tests — it tied with cocaine.