April 20 (4/20) is nearly (eight days!) upon us and that means it’s time for the cannabis community to celebrate its national high holiday.
From smokey concerts to peaceful park smoke-outs, there’s never a shortage of 4/20 celebrations in the air. But this year brings a new, special kind of celebration coming from the East Coast in the form of a “Unity Torch.”
This symbolic, Olympic-sized torch, shaped like a marijuana joint, will make its way from the top of the East Coast (Portland, Maine) to the bottom of the East Coast (Miami, Florida) starting this Wednesday, April 14. Presented by the East Coast Cannabis Coalition, the 2016 Unity Cypher will be passing through all 15 East Coast states before finishing its journey in Florida on May 1.
You can view all the states and the schedule right here.
The goal of the Unity Cypher is far bigger than just getting high for 4/20. In fact, actual cannabis plants seem to be an afterthought. The Cypher’s true goal is to spread even awareness for the plant on the East Coast, where marijuana remains stifled, and to promote the de-scheduling or at the very least rescheduling of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act.
Both of those issues may be nearing resolutions, as Rhode Island and Vermont appear poised to legalize this year while the DEA claims it will consider rescheduling cannabis by mid 2016. Still, a torch passing through states and creating more press for the plant’s freedom should only help these initiatives gain more steam.
photo credit: Kottonmouthkings
High Times Magazine staff have acted swiftly and already found a new home for this year’s annual April 20 (4/20) Cannabis Cup Celebration in Colorado — Pueblo.
The Southern Colorado city has stepped in to save the day and will reportedly host the event from April 16 through April 20 at a family owned outdoor entertainment venue called “The Yard” just miles outside of Pueblo.
According to a statement from Pueblo County, “Pueblo County Planning & Development Department received a Special Event Permit application by Tommy G Productions for an event beginning on April 16, 2016 and ending on April 20, 2016. On Monday, February 22, 2016, when the Pueblo County Planning & Development Office learned that Tommy G Productions was not the event promoter, P&D asked that the application be revised and portions of the application be re-submitted by the true applicant High Times.”
After Adams County officials denied High Times a permit to host the company’s annual 4/20 Cannabis Cup celebration at the Denver Mart (the site of the last two years’ Cups), organizers from the media giant had to act swiftly. While not the most convenient location, Pueblo has a reputation as very cannabis friendly and is home to many marijuana grows and businesses.
Located 114 miles south of Denver, Colorado, the new location means a longer trek for many industry figures that call Denver home. Considering the event’s annual massive attendance and vitality to the industry, it is likely the event will still draw 30,000+ visitors in two months time.
The Yard is owned and operated by the Giodone family, who also own the Best Budz dispensary, which is not so coincidentally also located on The Yard’s site.
Hopeful attendees can begin purchasing tickets through the Cannabis Cup website in the coming weeks.
Image via High Times Instagram
Four-twenty, or “420,” is more than a mere date. It extends beyond a simple time of the day. It’s a manifestation of the plant itself. In a digital world of social media shortcuts, 420 is the perfect symbol of all things cannabis. A terse four-character text message, “420?,” is probably the most efficient means of asking a friend if they want to get high.
Fans of the culture tend to smoke up at 4:20 pm. Millions around the world celebrate the kind herb on April 20 when they gather for rallies, smoke outs, trade shows, and backyard bar-be-ques. But how did this term truly originate? Who is to thank for this after school afternoon ritual cum national holiday?
Although there are conflicting stories, the only one with any credibility or evidence behind it is from a group from San Rafael, California calling itself the Waldos. In 1971, members of the group had a tradition of meeting at 4:20 pm after school, when they would get high and trod off in pursuit of a mythical pot field based on their possession of a hand-drawn map. The pot field, unfortunately, was never found.
“We were smoking a lot of weed at the time,” said Dave Reddix, known within the group as Waldo Dave, who is now a 59-year-old filmmaker. Said Reddix:
“Half the fun was just going looking for it.”
Based on the group’s geographic location and personal interests, use of the 420 reference spread to the hippy rock band the Grateful Dead. After use of the term became common within the band’s dedicated legion of Deadhead followers, it got some real traction in society.
The next boost to stardom for “420” came when former High Times editor Steve Bloom saw the term defined on a Grateful Dead concert flyer in 1990. This lead to the term being adopted by High Times staff. Because of the magazine’s influence on the culture — and the fact that it publishes both a popular magazine and a website — 420 was truly released into the wild.
While the term no longer holds its ability to act as secret code (it’s commonly recognized), it is a powerful social emblem derived from a pre-internet meme that represents power to the people and everything counterculture.
Epicenters of cannabis celebrations on April 20 include Denver, San Francisco, Toronto, and Vancouver — as well as hundreds of more discrete events across America. Denver, however, has became the de facto center of cannabis celebrational activity, due mostly to the state’s pioneering legal recreational marijuana and its healthy network of cultivation facilities, independent dispensaries, and retail outlets.