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  • Olivia Castro

All Things 420: A Cannabis Holiday

420 has become a subculture holiday that many people all over the nation celebrate! But there is a lot of mystery behind 420 and its origins. What exactly is 420? Where did the term come from? How do people celebrate it? These are all good questions to have and you will get all the answers your little heart desires here. At Louisiana Marijuana Card, we not only provide patients with access to medical marijuana cards but we are a main source of all things cannabis in Louisiana!

In today’s blog, we will discuss how 420 started and debunk some 420 myths. This will give you a good foundation of why we celebrate 420 and how you can start celebrating too! We also will share what you can do if you accidentally over do it and want to sober up. All of these topics will give you some tools in your arsenal which will help you have an awesome 420 this year!

How Did 420 Start?

There has been a lot of mystery surrounding 420’s origin story. There have been a number of myths and rumors. Some have said 420 is the number of chemical compounds in marijuana, some believe that is celebration of Bob Marley’s birthday and others suggest it comes from an obscure 4:20 Holland teatime. There also have been some conspiracy theories thrown out there somehow relating 420 to the death dates of Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix. While we all love our fair share of Joplin, Cobain and Hendrix’s music, especially on a day like 420, these are all myths that fly around when people are not aware of the true 420 origins.

420 started back in 1971 in a small town 30 minutes outside of San Francisco at San Rafael High School. If you think this already sounds super weird, trust me, it gets even more weird! There was a small group of friends who nicknamed themselves “the Waldos” as they liked to hang out near this wall outside of their high school. The Waldos learned that there was a U.S. Coast Guard stationed near Point Reyes Lighthouse who had abandoned a patch of cannabis that he had secretly planted in the forest. He was afraid of getting caught by his commanding officer and wasn’t willing to risk his career so the patch was left unattended. The Waldos learned about this patch as the Coastguard drew a map for his brother-in-law to find it who then passed it along to his friends, the Waldos.

The Waldos were involved in high school sports so they had practice after school. After practice, they would plan to meet at the school’s Louis Pasteur statue at, of course, 4:20. They would meet, smoke some cannabis and then head out to the forest with hope to find this treasure trove of marijuana that they could claim for themselves.

The search continued on and every day when the Waldos would pass each other in the hallways of their high school they would remind each other the search was still on by shouting “4:20 Louie” which later was shortened to just “4:20.” Even though the cannabis patch was never found, the Waldos bonded over cannabis use and the hunt! They ended up continuing to use the term 420 to refer to smoke sessions and then eventually anything related to marijuana in general.

At the same time, the band the Grateful Dead had just relocated to San Rafael, where the Waldos lived. The older brother of one of the Waldos managed two Grateful Dead sidebands and was very close with Phil Lesh, the bassist in the band. This gave the Waldos an in to Grateful Dead parties, shows, and rehearsals; one of the Waldos even became a roadie for their summer tour. This is how the term 420 started to seep its way into pop culture as it spread through the Grateful Dead community and the nation as a whole!

You can learn more about this story in greater detail from the Waldos themselves! In 2017, the popular podcast Criminal researched the origins of 420. You can listen to it here.

Debunking 420 Myths

We can talk about 420 myths for days and days since most people don’t know that the term came from a group of cannabis hunting teenage boys in NorCal. Here are some of the most common myths and some info as to why they are simply not true:

Myth 1: There are 420 chemical compounds in marijuana.

This is totally false. Marijuana is one of the most complex plants on the planet so there are many more components to marijuana than just simply 420. There have been over 500 compounds identified, 70 different cannabinoids and over 120 terpene variants that have been found in marijuana.

Myth 2: 420 is the police dispatch code for marijuana.

This is probably the most common 420 myth and is also not true. Interestingly enough, Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh said that the police code for marijuana was 420 in San Rafael. Although he was wrong, as it is not a police code for anything, this was the first time the Grateful Dead was linked to the origins of 420!

Myth 3: Marijuana users in Holland have their tea time at 4:20 pm.

Again, this is not true. There is no set time in Holland where everyone that uses marijuana has to have tea. People have tea at different times and there is certainly not a nationwide consensus that every cannabis consumer has to drink their tea at exactly the same time, every day.

Myth 4: The anniversary of Bob Marley’s death is on 4/20.

This is so obviously false it would almost be comical if it wasn’t dealing with one of the greats death. Bob Marley actually died on May 11, 1981 of skin cancer in Miami, Florida. People have also said it was related to his birthday but his birthday is in February so that’s a no-go too. He has no relation to the term 420 except that he was an avid lover and promoter of cannabis use.

Myth 5: 4/20 is related to Kurt Cobain’s death.

This is an interesting one that is also false. Kurt Cobain, lead singer of the band Nirvana, was found after committing suicide on April 8, 1994. Unfortunately, it took a few days for him to be found in his Seattle home so it was said after the autopsy that he actually died on April 5. This date is close to 4/20 but definitely is not close enough as he was found on the 8th. Also an added note, in 1994, 420 was a term already in existence so it did not originate from anything related to Kurt Cobain.

How Do People Celebrate 420?

420 has been burrowing itself deep into cannabis culture for decades now. The 420 holiday is widely embraced around the country! There are so many different ways that you can celebrate 420 and what it means to you.

Everyone has a different cannabis journey. Some use cannabis as a way to relax and unwind, some to bond with friends and others to aid debilitating medical conditions. This just goes to show you how diverse the cannabis plant really is and how people’s relationships with it differs.

Whatever way you relate to cannabis is the right way for you to celebrate 420! Some want to celebrate 420 by attending legalization rallies and signing social petitions to free incarcerated people for marijuana crimes. Others get a group of friends together to go camping and bond over a fire. Some want to just Netflix and chill with their boo in the comfort of their home. There is no wrong way to 420!

What Can I Do if I Over Do it?

We know 420 is a fun holiday but we do need to get the “ dad talk” out for you. Be careful about overdoing it. We know this year has been hard and we all deserve to celebrate, but let’s be safe so that we can continue to have a good time this 420!

There are literally thousands of ways that you can get to the point where you think to yourself, “Uh-oh, I’m too high.” You could have taken an edible, thought it wasn’t working and taken another one. You could have tried a new concentrate or oil and weren’t certain of the potency. You could have squirted just a little too much of your tincture in your drink. These are all big no-no’s in the cannabis community but we have all been there. You are not alone!

Below are some tips and tricks if you over do it on this years 420:

1. Try not to panic.

The first thing people often do when they over consume marijuana is panic. Sometimes it is kind of hard not to but just keep reminding yourself that you are safe and that it will wear off with no long lasting effects. Let the fact that you cannot overdose on cannabis comfort you! Other than being in your head and uncomfortable, you’re going to be just fine!

2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

I will say it again, hydrate! Drinking water when you over consume not only helps get some water in your system but also allows you to focus on a small simple task. This will help you get out of your head! Drinking water is familiar to the body so it will help ground you. Remember to not drink anything with alcohol as it increases THC in the bloodstream which will make matters worse.

3. Try chewing on some black peppercorns.

This sounds really odd but is something that actually works! We are not exactly sure why this works but smelling or chewing on some black peppercorns can help you if you are feeling anxious or paranoid.

4. Rest easy.

One of the best things to do if you accidentally over consume marijuana is to just rest. Find a nice quiet spot where you feel comfortable and safe. Just cozy up there and take some full deep breaths to help center you. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Focus on your breath and relax. If you can fall asleep that is even better! But some find it is hard to shut off the brain after over consuming, especially if you’re dealing with paranoia or anxiety. If you’re not able to fall asleep just stay comfy and cozy in your little nest until you’re feeling better!

5. Hop in the shower or take a nice bath.

Taking a nice shower or running a hot bath for yourself is another great way to help you relax. It is another simple task that can help ground you back to feeling like your normal self. Also remember that water is life! Sometimes being around a natural element can help comfort you.

Have a Happy 420!

The best way to have a happy 420 is to celebrate in moderation. Just like with anything in life, over doing it can cause some issues. We all know the crazy uncle that overdoes it on eggnog every Christmas. Don’t be that guy on 420!

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