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4:20… Let’s Light It Up

Eze Ohaegbulam.

Hemp. Igbo. Gbana. Mary Jane. Pot. Weed. Cannabis. Marijuana.

Call it what you will, nothing changes the fact that the little plant has gained more following than your MCM and will continue to do that until one of two things happens: the plant gets eradicated (which we know will never happen) or the world comes to an end (which, you have to admit, with the ongoing pandemic is looking pretty much likely every day – hope you’re keeping safe though?)

Now, as intriguing as weed might sound (and believe me, it really is), today we will be looking at a spin-off from weed instead.

If you are quite up to date with pop culture, you will most definitely know the hidden meaning behind today’s date: April 20. Indeed, I am talking about 420 (or 4/20 or 4-20 or 4:20…write it out any way you want it…I have heard weed is highly accommodating – I am sure I can be too.)

The paramount questions, for those who do not know, are: What is 420 and why is it celebrated? What does it entail? When and where did it start?

The answer to the last question is anyone’s guess, but I think I can demystify the first two…so, let us hope you are ready for this!

420 – celebrated around the world by pot smokers every April 20, has long had its origin obscured by the hazy memories of the people who decided to make it a global phenomenon.

There are a lot of stories around its origin, and I will give you a few of them here, and you can choose which works for you.

Some say “420” is a code amongst police officers for “marijuana smoking in progress.” Some note 4/20 is also Adolf Hitler’s birthday. And some would even go as far as to cite Bob Dylan’s song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” because 12 multiplied by 35 equals 420…honestly though, the kind of connections the mind can make!

But, to put it bluntly (pun intended), the rumours of the history behind how April 20, and 4/20, got associated with marijuana are false.

The most credible story tracks 4/20 back to Marin County, California. In 1971, five students at San Rafael High School would meet at 4:20 p.m. by the statue of renowned chemist, Louis Pasteur, to partake. They chose that specific time because extracurricular activities had usually ended by then. This group — Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich — became known as the “Waldos” because they met at a wall. They would say “420” to each other as code for marijuana.

Truth be told though – whatever the origin story is, nobody cares. What matters to them is lighting up in the afternoon today (or morning, like my neighbour already did) and just getting high on life. Long-time potheads say it makes them feel like Lucky Dube or Snoop Dogg performing one of his hit tracks, newcomers say it makes them feel like Lil Wayne or Wiz Khalifa. I say, to each his own.

Do what you will…just remember to live and let live.

Happy 420, everyone!

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