Last month the world saw the annual event of 4/20, a sweet occasion dedicated to sparking up some devil’s lettuce and basically just getting really, really high.
Even some of the biggest pot smokers in the world today have trouble recognizing how this global phenomenon came about, which brings me here to spread some enlightenment on the origin of 420.
Over the years, the definition of 420 has become common knowledge and is used by almost every sesh gremlin on some level or another, yet what most people don’t realise is that the police actually used it first. I know right, the very people who enforce the laws regarding cannabis are the ones we have to thank for the term 420! It started somewhere in the early 70’s when the California Police deemed 420 a code for ‘marijuana smoking in progress.’ After some high school teens known as the ‘Waldos’ caught onto this code, it was then quickly made into the term we know and use today. With all of us having once been in high school, I can safely assume that we all know how fast rumors and traditions spread - henceforth 420 is now a worldwide custom.
Although the original term 420 had nothing to do with the date 4/20, every year people all over the world come together to pay reverence and respect to this herb. Of course in New Zealand, 420 celebrations aren’t as excessive or prevalent than countries that have legalized it, so here are some of the top 420 celebrations globally.
Washington DC doesn’t just host the President of the United States, but also the National Cannabis Festival. Not only is this festival a great time to get together with your homies, smoke some ganja and mong out to some vibey tunes, but this festival also offers education sessions on the benefits and side effects of Mary Jane. This event caters for everyone over the age of 21 and even those still on the fence about the concept of smoking Poccololo are able to use it as an opportunity to learn more about the pros and cons surrounding it.
In London, smoking hashish is against the law – but that doesn’t mean it can’t celebrate 420 with the rest of the world. This year’s 420 rally in Hyde Park certainly emphasised London’s love for the sacred herb, with a rally of over one thousand people gathering together to spread some joy and shout out to the government to quit enforcing the anti-ganja law.
Believe it or not, Australia is in the mix for top 420 celebrations in the world because they host a Free Cannabis community picnic every year in Sydney. The company D’Munchies provides the picnic-goers with food as well as holding joint rolling competitions, prize giveaways and live performances. This 420 event is also in protest of the Prohibition of Cannabis and is another wholesome example of people coming together for a common cause.
Obviously, Canada is up there with the world’s top 420 celebrations, having legalized pot nationwide only last year! Their main objective for legalizing weed was to have more control over its sales to under agers, as well as curb marijuana related crime. This year on April 20th it was the first time Canadians were able to enjoy marijuana related festivities without the foreboding threat of facing penalties from law enforcement and they took this as another reason to celebrate! 420 events across Canada included large gatherings and public speeches about marijuana outside the city hall in Toronto, a marijuana themed boat launch on the Mattagami river, a giant sesh at the Mount Royal park in Montreal, a 420 Arts and Music festival in Calgary and a big 420 festival at Sunset Beach in Vancouver. No matter where you are in Canada, on April 20th you will always be sure to find a crowd of people nearby that are celebrating their love for ganja.
I feel I can’t wrap this article up until I pay acknowledgement to our own humble country. As we all know, our law still recognizes this drug as the devil’s lettuce and it is still illegal to possess or consume it (although all that may change next year!) Despite this, our country still does its best to make our 420 celebrations known! This year on April 20th, Dunedin hosted a two-day Harvest Festival which marketed itself as ‘a joint protest and celebration of our beloved cannabis plant.’ This event hosted cannabis trade expos, a Cannabis Cup competition, and live music and entertainment. This cannabis themed festival was the perfect way for New Zealanders to unite and commemorate a common interest, despite it lacking any actual cannabis.
For more information on marijuana and its effects, the National Institute on Drug Abuse have created a website explaining the effects and processes of smoking it. The Netflix documentary ‘The Legend of 420’ also gives insight on the origins of the cannabis laws and the ways that different people use and celebrate it.
Next year’s referendum will allow New Zealanders to cast a vote as to whether our country should relax its laws on personal cannabis use. This could potentially result in us joining Canada and Washington DC in celebrating 420 to the fullest extent.