The stoner holiday of all stoner holidays has arrived for the year, and pot enthusiasts all over the world are lighting up to celebrate 420 (self included). But, why are we celebrating? Sure there are states with legal weed, but there’s also still hundreds of thousands of people in prison for cannabis, multiple cannabis related arrests every single day, and communities that continue to crumble because of being targeted by decades of the racist criminalization of cannabis and the overall war on drugs.
It’s always great to see platforms as big as Ben and Jerry’s advocating for social justice and policy reform, especially today on for 420.
Instagram Community Guideline Violations Target Social Equity Education: Is Instagram Racist?
Cannabis businesses are still plagued with stigma and having to adhere to incredibly strict and sometimes unreasonable guidelines by social media platforms. Everyone who works in the cannabis industry is aware of this. Ironically, just in the past 24 hours while we were gearing up with 4/20 content and calls to actions on our Instagram account, we were flagged and then disabled because of this post. (I have formatted it into this graphic using screenshots for the sake of simplicity in understanding this situation).
Now, this post is from Marijuana Matters, one of the longest running, most impactful, Black-founded and operated social equity nonprofits in our country, and it was strictly educational and advocacy related. Nothing being sold, nothing being advertised for, and nothing ethically or morally wrong. It was simply that image of a cannabis bud that did it. So, Instagram is also trying to stifle the public’s ability to learn about this plant that has been racially criminalized and stigmatized for decades due to conjecture and propaganda. Is Instagram racist? When will this end? What needs to happen? These are all things to consider as this is only one problem that needs to be addressed as we continue to move forward in the continually emerging cannabis industry, and with drug policy and social equity reform overall. 420 is a great day to advocate.
With New York passing the most equity centered adult-use regulated cannabis program in the country and other social equity efforts underway in the U.S., especially with HB 3112 currently being circulated in Oregon, it’s nice to FINALLY see cannabis companies and industry professionals getting behind efforts such as these. The social equity conversation is a MUST as we move forward with cannabis legalization efforts.
Why is 4/20 a Pothead Holiday and What is the Meaning Behind 420?
So, why 4/20? While some people think the term 420 originated from a police code, the association of weed and 420 originated in the 1970s with a group of San Rafael High School friends known as the Waldos (because their chosen hang-out spot was a wall outside the school) who used the term in connection with a fall 1971 plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop that they had learned about in a nearby forest. They designated the Louis Pasteur statue on the grounds of San Rafael High School as their meeting place, and 4:20 p.m. as their meeting time. The group referred to this plan as “4:20 Louis”. After having no success in finding the crop, they eventually shortened their phrase to “4:20”, which quickly spread through the early ‘70s stoner culture and has now evolved into a codeword that cannabis consumers use on the daily.
4/20 is a Day to Advocate, Educate, and Celebrate (in that order)
With the cannabis industry continuing to grow in size and break sales records year after year, and especially after this past year with the cannabis businesses being deemed an essential service during a global pandemic, one can only assume this legalization trend is going one way: forward.
What can you do to help? Support organizations like Maijuana Matters, Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM), the Prison Policy Initiative, and Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine (ACHEM). Follow their social media handles, sign up for their newsletters, donate to their causes, and spread the word. If you are in the industry, open the conversation about social equity and social justice with your colleagues and make plans for a fundraiser or outreach event. Go to your state’s homepage and find out who represents you both in your state and at the nation’s capital and communicate your thoughts about drug policy reform with them, it is critical that we are all civically engaged during this time of change and reform. Find the activist groups in your state, and stay informed about initiatives and other efforts circulation in your area. Most importantly, make sure you know the history of prohibition and you spread that word as far as you can.
As we light up and celebrate, it is essential that we continue to educate and advocate. While we have had some successes, there is still lots of work to do in the area of cannabis policy reform until the plant is freed for all, and both prison and arrest rates reflect that.
4/20 Events and Opportunities
The ACLU-NJ will host a virtual discussion with U.S. Senator Cory Booker and a panel of marijuana legalization leaders about the future of cannabis justice in New Jersey. Panelists will discuss ways that New Jersey can ensure a more equitable and inclusive cannabis industry, reinvest in communities harmed most by cannabis prohibition, and continue to move toward cannabis justice during the implementation process and beyond.
While there’s always several releases or launches on this loved holiday, a few this year include:
Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion, a marijuana activist and entrepreneur known for his legacy market marijuana operation located directly across the street from City Hall in Trenton, NJ. is opening up a marijuana lounge in Miami, and every moment will be captured in a new reality TV show. Unleashed Entertainment – a new social justice-oriented streaming platform – announced today that the show, “Miami’s Highlife with NJweedman” will be added to its line-up of entertainment. NJWeedman was a self-confessed weed smuggler in the 1990s who first achieved media fame when he was arrested smoking marijuana in front of the entire New Jersey State Assembly in 2000 and firing up next to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, PA during the Republican convention.
Cypress Hill’s B-Real Announces Double A-Side Release, Cypress Hill Live Stream Concert and Mr. Cartoon Original Artwork NFT Collaboration with Ark Labs & Blockparty all for release on 4/20. B-Real announces a new, exclusive collaboration with Wonderbrett x Dr. Greenthumb x High Hopes Supply Co. A limited-edition curated cannabis pre-roll will be available for purchase, along with a download of one of his new tracks, “Mother Mary,” at all of B-Real’s signature Dr. Greenthumb stores in California. To ensure all his California fans have a chance for access, B-Real will make an announcement on social media as 4/20 approaches as to a few other select locations that will carry these historical joints.
As always, I encourage you to follow thought leaders like Dasheeda Dawson for guidance and inspirtation.
Happy 420 everyone!