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The Complete Guide to 4/20 – National Weed Day (+ 8 Other Green Holidays to Celebrate)

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“4/20 friendly” — From venues to dating profiles to events, you’ve probably encountered this codified approach to let cannabis consumers know that “weed is welcomed here”, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself why we associate an otherwise random day of April with marijuana? Is it a mini Spring Break for canna-consumers to celebrate the end of tax season? Perhaps it is an homage to Earth Day, that other green day that we celebrate in April. Or maybe it has become society’s excuse to simply get outside and enjoy the warmer weather and blossoming greenery that is emerging from winter dormancy. The point being, I’ve found that most folks have never questioned the rationale behind 4/20’s symbolism of cannabis, which is why I’ve decided to shed some light on the matter in this article as well as discuss some lesser-known green holidays. 

 

What Does 4/20 Have to Do with Weed? 

Rest assured, if you’re one of the curious few who has searched for answers behind 4/20’s connection to cannabis, you’ve probably ended up down a rabbit hole of theories and speculation. From rumors that 420 was somehow correlated to the music of Bob Dylan to proposals that 420 is the callsign used by law enforcement to report marijuana offenses, there seems to be an endless supply of possibilities behind the marriage of 4/20 and everyone’s favorite plant. 

However, there’s one theory behind 4/20 and weed that typically prevails over all others. From my research, the widely accepted tale tracing the roots of 420 to its cannabis connotations began around the early to mid 1970s in San Rafael, California. It revolves around a group of five high school students – Mark Gravich, Larry Schwartz, Jeffrey Noel, Dave Reddix, and Steve Capper – collectively known as “The Waldos“. Legend has it that they adopted “4:20” as a secret code for their quest to find a local abandoned marijuana field that was reportedly left behind by the original cultivator. Allegedly, the Waldos were supposedly guided by a “treasure map” made by the person who originally ran the grow operation. 

As the story goes, the time “4:20” became significant because it was the time of day that the group agreed to meet by a statue of Louis Pasteur, the scientist credited with discovering pasteurization, before embarking on their treasure hunts — and we all know that “meeting” in this case probably involved a pre-hunt smoke sesh. It is said that the original phrase, “4:20 Louis” initially signified their gathering point and time but evolved to denote their regular meetings, and ultimately, their cannabis consumption sessions by the statue, even long after their searches ended without ever finding the mythical hidden cannabis grow — or so the story goes. It is believed that these regular gatherings at 4:20 PM eventually gave rise to the term “4:20” as a shorthand for their meetups and smoke sessions.

Beyond this, the rest is history — at least to the degree that we will probably never unravel any remaining truth. 420 has, regardless of its origins, become a pop culture and cannabis icon. Looking back, its place was further solidified in cannabis vernacular across countless mediums and advertising platforms. The publication High Times started using “420” during the early 1990s, with the then editor, Steven Hager, declaring 4/20 (April 20th) the unofficial worldwide day of cannabis supporter appreciation. Adding to the theory of the Waldos, Dave Reddix — one of the original five friends — ultimately found a career working as a road crew member of the band The Grateful Dead — imagine that. As the story goes, one of the band’s members often proclaimed 4:20 PM to be the official time of day when cannabis consumption should be considered acceptable — giving additional rise to cannabis’ version of “it’s 5 O’clock somewhere” as well as adding credence to the original theory of the five friends who originally coined the phrase. 

Today, 4/20 is not just a day for casual smokers and cannabis aficionados; it represents a pivotal point in the ongoing dialogue surrounding policy reform, medical research, and cultural acceptance. Events ranging from public smoke outs and educational seminars to music festivals and communal gatherings highlight the day’s diverse observance. Yet, at its core, 4/20 remains a symbol of camaraderie, a nod to the spirit of the Waldos, and a celebration of cannabis culture’s journey from the fringes to the mainstream.

 

What are Some Other Weed Holidays?

Although April 20th wears the crown as the most iconic day in cannabis culture, it’s far from the only date marked with a green circle on the calendar. Across the globe, consumers and advocates of marijuana have carved out their own special days to celebrate, reflect on, and advocate for the beloved plant. From days dedicated to concentrates and extracts to celebrations that predate the widespread popularity of 4/20, the cannabis community has a myriad of reasons to come together throughout the year. Check out some of these notable occasions that have sparked their own traditions, gatherings, and, of course, reasons to roll one upas if we needed one.

 

March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day, with its green parades, emerald attire, and widespread cheer, offers a unique backdrop for those in the cannabis community to blend their celebrations with the broader festivities of the day. This deeply green holiday, filled with tradition and entertainment, naturally aligns with the spirit of cannabis culture. For some, the day’s focus on embracing all things green, creates a perfect companion to cannabis consumption which can enhance the playful mood of the holiday. The parallels between St. Patrick’s Day’s and cannabis culture highlight a seamless blend of historical celebrations with modern-day social practices. So, the next time you find yourself navigating through shamrocks and leprechaun hats, remember that St. Patrick’s Day is also an opportunity for cannabis enthusiasts to celebrate a different type of green

 

First Saturday in April – International Hashish Day

Before 4/20 became the behemoth of cannabis celebrations, the first Saturday of April stood as a day for advocating cannabis, specifically hashish or hash. Originating from traditions and celebrations in countries with a long history of hashish production, this day serves as a nod to the rich, global heritage of cannabis.

 

June 18th – Jack Herer’s Birthday

June 18th marks the birthday of cannabis royalty, Jack Herer. This day has been embraced by some in the cannabis community as a holiday in its own right, a day to honor a man who was not just an advocate but a pioneer for cannabis legalization and the hemp revolution. Herer, often referred to as “The Emperor of Hemp,” authored “The Emperor Wears No Clothes,” a book that has played an important role in the fight for cannabis reform. His work highlighted not only the unjust prohibition of cannabis but also the plant’s environmental benefits, its historical significance, and its potential in medicine and industry. Celebrating Herer’s birthday as a cannabis holiday serves as a tribute to his legacy, acknowledging his contributions to the movement towards acceptance and legalization of cannabis. It’s a day for education, activism, and remembering the strides taken in the ongoing journey for cannabis freedom, inspired by Herer’s tireless advocacy and belief in a plant’s potential to change the world.

 

July 4th – Independence Day

For some, the 4th of July — or Independence Day — resonates as more than just a day to enjoy pool parties and fireworks; it is also an homage to the founding fathers who built the nation — and who also grew hemp. As the nation gathers every July to commemorate the country’s birthday, those in the cannabis community often reflect on their own victories: the gradual destigmatization of marijuana use, the expanding legalization across states (80% of states now have legal cannabis programs), and the growing recognition of cannabis’s therapeutic potential. For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of watching a fireworks display after enjoying a perfectly packed blunt, I highly recommend giving this a shot during this year’s 4th of July celebrations — as long as you’re not the one lighting the fireworks!

 

7/10 – OIL Day

July 10th, or 7/10 when flipped, spells “OIL,” making it the unofficial holiday for cannabis concentrates. This day celebrates the purity, potency, and technological advancements in extracting the essence of cannabis. Events and dispensaries often offer deals and educational sessions focusing on dabs, waxes, and oils, making it a high holiday for enthusiasts of potent experiences. 

 

August 8th – National CBD Day

August 8th, or National CBD Day, has emerged as a day of observance for those within the cannabis community, broadening the scope of cannabis holidays beyond the psychoactive experiences of THC. Many have taken to 8/8 to celebrate the therapeutic and non-intoxicating benefits of cannabidiol (CBD). This day shines a spotlight on the treasure trove of potential that CBD holds for health and wellness, reflecting a pivotal shift in society’s understanding and acceptance of cannabinoids outside of THC. For many, National CBD Day is not just about acknowledging the myriad of potential benefits of CBD for conditions such as anxiety, pain, and inflammation; it’s also a celebration of the progress made in destigmatizing cannabis and its compounds, highlighting the plant’s versatility and its role in advancing natural, holistic approaches to health care. By embracing National CBD Day as a cannabis holiday, individuals and communities underscore the importance of research, education, and legal reform, further cementing CBD’s place in both the medicinal and cultural landscapes of cannabis.

 

November 6th – Legalization Day

On November 6th, 2012, a groundbreaking moment unfolded as Washington and Colorado became the first states in the U.S. to legalize the sale and use of cannabis for adult recreational purposes. This marked a significant shift, especially against the backdrop of decades-long stigmatization of cannabis. The passage of these laws signaled a pivotal change in societal views towards cannabis consumption. Following this landmark decision, 24 additional states have embraced the legalization of recreational marijuana. Meanwhile, efforts to legalize recreational cannabis are underway in several other states, with only ten states yet to legalize it for either medical or recreational purposes. This wave of change has also transcended national borders, inspiring drug reform in various countries around the world. The pioneering legislation set by Washington and Colorado continues to have a profound and lasting effect, demonstrating the evolving global stance on cannabis.

 

Green Wednesday – The Day Before Thanksgiving

In more recent times, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving has been dubbed “Green Wednesday“, a nod to the significant uptick in cannabis sales as people prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday. Whether it’s to enhance the Thanksgiving feast or to take the edge off from spending time with relatives, Green Wednesday has quickly become a cornerstone for cannabis retailers and consumers alike. 

A group of people enjoying a Budmaster herbal blunt while listening to a guitar player on 4/20.

The Takeaway: How are YOU Celebrating 4/20? 

As we draw the curtains on our journey through the smoky corridors of time, exploring the history of 4/20 and delving into the kaleidoscope of cannabis holidays that dot the calendar, it has hopefully become clear that these celebrations are more than just dates. They’re vibrant threads woven into the fabric of cannabis culture, each carrying its own story, significance, and contribution to the tapestry of cannabis legalization and acceptance. From the grassroots origins of 4/20 in San Rafael to the global recognition of CBD’s therapeutic potential, these holidays collectively mark the milestones of progress and the continuing evolution of societal attitudes towards cannabis.

The narrative of cannabis, encapsulated in days like 7/10, Green Wednesday, and the pioneering spirit of figures like Jack Herer, reflects a journey from the dark corners to the forefront of public conversation. These commemorations serve not only as opportunities for communal celebration but also as platforms for education, advocacy, and reflection on the strides made and the paths we’ve yet to traverse.

As we embrace these canna-friendly days, let us also take a moment to acknowledge the broader implications they hold for policy, healthcare, and communities around us. The history of 4/20 and its kindred green holidays underline a dynamic shift towards a future where cannabis is understood, respected, and integrated into society in positive, meaningful ways.

So, whether you’re lighting up in honor of 4/20, reflecting on the contributions of cannabis pioneers, or advocating for change on Cannabis Legalization Day, remember that each puff, each story, and each step forward is part of a larger narrative. It’s a narrative that champions freedom, healing, and unity — a narrative where every day has the potential to be a cannabis holiday, in its own right.

In closing, as we look back on the origins and celebrations of cannabis culture, I implore you to also consider the power of community, the importance of advocacy, and the ongoing journey towards acceptance. Here’s to recognizing every day as an opportunity to celebrate the progress made and to anticipate the advancements still on the horizon. The story of cannabis is far from over, and together, we’re all part of writing the next chapters — I hope to see you all in the history books someday. 

 

This article is for informational purposes only and not to be used as medical advice. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your diet, medications, or daily routine. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 

Grady Moore is a marketing and development consultant for the cannabis and hemp industry. He holds a Master of Science in medical cannabis science and therapeutics from the University of Maryland. Grady is passionate about increasing medical cannabis literacy and education. When he isn’t working, you can likely find him playing with his golden retriever named Doobie, taking time-lapse photography, or practicing cello. To connect with or keep up with Grady, follow him on LinkedIn.

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