Hey, man. Have you ever looked at your hands? I mean, really looked at them? They’re amazing! They’re so...touchy. Whoa.
Sorry, got a little distracted there, man. But today is April 20, the unofficial holiday for jokers, smokers and midnight tokers alike, so you’ll forgive me if I’m a little ... dazed. I was just reflecting on how this day became the cannabis carnival that it’s grown into.
There are a lot of conflicting stories out there, man. Some say 420 found popularity because California police officers used the numbers on the radio to designate a marijuana violation in progress. Others believe Adolf Hitler’s April 20 birthday brought the numbers into use.
Nahhh, man. Larry Sloman’s “Reefer Madness: A History of Marijuana” lays out the truth: a group of high school students in San Rafael, Calif. in 1971 used the code “420 Louis” to tell each other to meet by the statue of Louis Pasteur outside the school at 4:20 p.m. for a smoke session.
As time passed, the kids — who called themselves “Waldos” — found that “420” could be used as code to clandestinely discuss weed around teachers, policemen and other figures of authority.
According to Sloman, the crew started getting high with the Grateful Dead at their rehearsal studio in San Rafael, and the numbers spread. April 20 soon evolved from code to celebration and method of protest.
Today, the ASU Students for Liberty will host a full-day event on the Tempe campus using 420 to spread the message of their displeasure at current marijuana laws.
“It’s an educational festival to show how much better it would be if we treated marijuana and drug use as a public health problem, rather than a criminal problem,” said American history senior Ross Kenyon, a member of Students for Liberty who’ll be speaking at the event.
The day’s festivities will include performances from local bands and comedians, speakers — including an economics professor and a gubernatorial candidate — and a symbolic smoke-out (with legal herbs) at 4:20 p.m.
“We’d like to raise awareness of the fact that drug prohibition is destructive, unproductive, and potentially immoral,” Kenyon said.
ASU Students for Liberty is a group centered around self ownership: the idea that every individual completely owns his or her life, time, body and the fruits of labor. As long as people own these things and are peaceful, Kenyon said, “there can never exist any legitimate authority to prohibit activity that falls within accordance of that principle.”
Deep stuff, man. Informative, too. Whether April 20 is a day to smoke, a day to protest, or simply another Tuesday, you can now at least consider yourselves knowledgeable.
All thanks to my amazing hands, man. Aren’t they awesome? Ooh, “Planet Earth” is on!
Zach can be reached someplace in outer space right about now. Or at email@example.com. Whichever, man.