For Pot Smokers, '420 Day' Is High Time to Celebrate
Every year on April 20 at precisely 4:20 p.m., thousands of people across the country break the law and get high in public. Today, at gatherings in places like San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and Denver's Civic Center Park, that tradition is set to continue as advocates of marijuana legalization converge and light up.
"It's the day when marijuana smokers come out of the closet," Keith Stroup, founder and legal counsel for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told AOL News. "On 4-20 we stand proud to show people that we are just average Americans. While most people get home from work and enjoy a glass of wine or a beer, we relax with marijuana, and that should be legal."
Stroup said local chapters of NORML have organized events to mark this year's 420 celebration in 30 states nationwide, including what it terms "civil disobedience" on the steps of the Massachusetts statehouse. "It's not hard to guess what we mean by that phrase," Stroup said.
Of course, not everyone is enthusiastic about 420 Day. "It's sad," Calvina Fay, executive director for Drug Free America Foundation, told AOL News. "What they are doing is celebrating an illegal and unhealthy activity. It sends a bad message to young people and encourages them to break the law."
In Sacramento, Calif., the medical marijuana dispensary El Camino Wellness Center will offer an eighth of an ounce of pot for $4.20. Normally, it sells that amount for $60.
"When I was younger, this was a party day," center co-founder Sonny Kumar told the Sacramento Bee. "Now, it's patient appreciation day."
The origins of 420 Day are believed to date back to 1971, Stroup said, when a group of friends at California's San Rafael High School met shortly after class let out at 4 p.m. to smoke a joint. Gradually the term "420" was embraced by followers of the Grateful Dead and spread as a kind of code among marijuana enthusiasts.
Dozens of videos posted on YouTube chronicle past celebrations of 420 Day on campuses like the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of California at Santa Cruz, where the following clip was compiled by City on a Hill Press, the school's student newspaper:
While Santa Cruz officials have put traffic and parking restrictions in place to try and deter the number of people attending 420 Day, the celebrations continue to draw thousands of people.