April 20 has been the unofficial holiday to celebrate all things cannabis for years now. But as legalization spreads, some are starting to ask, is 420 overrated? The holiday, born in the need for secrecy about weed, has possibly become overrated and maybe even unnecessary.
Certainly, many people plan to celebrate this year. And there are festivals planned again in places like Denver and Seattle. But there’s an argument to be made that the holiday has outlived its usefulness.
Before getting into that, here’s a look at how 4/20 began, some of the traditions around the holiday and where the biggest festivals are happening in 2019.
The 420 Legend
Back in 1971, four friends at San Rafael High School would meet at the Louis Pasteur statue on campus to go in search of a fabled field of marijuana near a Coast Guard station outside of town. The time they met? 4:20 p.m.
From this humble beginning, the holiday of 4/20 was created. Soon, the friends used “420” as a code for marijuana. Eventually, that slang – and their story – spread across the country. April 20 became the un-official cannabis holiday.
Popular traditions of 4/20
Everyone chooses to observe 4/20 in their own way. One of the most common is to fire up a joint at 4:20 p.m., which is the time that the group in California met at the statue. Other traditions include:
- Making weed edibles
- Planting some marijuana seeds
- Attending an event (while a few of the most popular national festivals are listed below, many major metro areas have 4/20 events)
Popular 420 Festivals
There are festivals around the country. It’s not too late for a last-minute plane ticket. Some of the biggest festivals include the following.
- The Mile High 420 Festival in Denver
- The 420 Fest in Seattle, which really is the first event of the Hemp Fest that culminates in August
- California has so many festivals, there is a whole page dedicated to them
Why 4/20 Might Be Overrated
The arguments that 4/20 is overrated as a holiday generally falls into two categories.
People Make Too Big Deal Out of It
Once you know the story of 4/20, it loses a lot of its appeal. Basically, it’s a joke among high schoolers to disguise the fact they are talking about pot. That means people are celebrating teenage slang that is now getting close to 50 years old. Other than that, there’s no special reason to support the holiday.
Legalization Means It’s Lost Importance
The reason why 4/20 get-togethers and festivals were cool is that they celebrated a counter-culture that remained illegal in the eyes of the law. Now, you have presidential candidates openly calling for legalization. That’s taken a lot of the meaning out of having a special day with a special code to celebrate something that now is out in the open.
That said, if you are near a place having a festival or want to take a trip, there is plenty to see and do on April 20. But don’t be surprised if it doesn’t have the same “cool factor” level it had when cannabis was illegal.