It’s high time

Nick Baker

Well, children, that time of year has finally come. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. And the air, for one day, becomes heavy, acrid and generally more pleasant.

For many, today is a Monday just like any other. People of this ilk will likely notice changes in behavior and demeanor in certain students, classmates, co-workers, etc. If perceptive, they will likely notice the squinty red eyes, increased appetites and general lethargy in these particular individuals.

It is a concept foreign to many outside the “High Times” readership pool, and it seems only right to clue in readers of the Daily Kent Stater as to why some people, on this particular Monday, will likely be sporting ridiculous grins as they skip out on class or work. Employers had any call-offs today? Any teachers notice that classes are emptier (or quieter) than usual?

So gather ’round, children. Put on your favorite tunes (I would go with Wu-Tang or some Lee “Scratch” Perry) and fire up that spliff, ’cause Uncle Nick is going to share with you the story of April 20 and why your Monday may seem a bit odd.

It is called 4/20 (“four-twenty”), the “high holiday” (pretty clever, eh?) for the international pot-smoking community.

The number 4/20 is not limited to a calendar date, however, inside the “community.” It functions as a nice graffiti tag or carved into a desk. It often appears on clothing, lighters and various smoking devices. Think “Windtalkers,” only for high school burnouts trying to duck their teachers’ radars.

Various theories have arisen over the years as to why the number 4/20 on a calendar, clock, highway, address, birthday or phone number is regarded by burnouts with such reverence. Many of them are based on roundabout estimates and poor research.

According to a “High Times” article that debunks these theories, 4/20 has been inaccurately cited as: police code in Los Angeles for a marijuana-related offense, the number of chemicals in cannabis, the former street address of the Grateful Dead in the Haight-Ashbury, the time of Jerry Garcia’s death (4:20 p.m.), tea time in Amsterdam or the date revered by practitioners of Rastafari who smoked ganja as a spiritual practice when Haile Selassie visited Jamaica for the first time.

April 20 was also Adolf Hitler’s birthday. The notion here is that cannabis culture is in direct conflict with Hitler’s fascist ideals and that by burning a doobie on his birthday, the smoker is sticking it to the Fuhrer. This association with Hitler is also more unfortunately linked with the fact that the Columbine High School shootings occurred April 20, 1999.

But alas, the true origin of the 4/20 code comes from San Rafael, Calif., in 1971. At San Rafael High School, a group of students known as the Waldos would make plans of “4:20 Louie” and meet after detention near a statue of Louis Pasteur outside the school at 4:20 p.m.

The Waldos, apparent Deadheads and members of the “counterculture,” spread the code around the area until it grew to an international phenomenon.

On this day, Kent State Students for Sensible Drug Policy will begin a week’s worth of activities to advocate reforming drug laws, including a concert outside ol’ Lefton’s office today.

Groups like the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, will hold events, concerts will spring up and tree-huggers will be basking in the joys of Earth Week.

The air will grow thick. Drum circles will form. For one day, the Kottonmouth Kings will be legitimized, and Michael Phelps – the bong-smoking Michael Phelps, not the gold medal-winning one (aren’t they one in the same, America?) – will be a small fish in a big pond.

For the man, the squares, the honkeys and the straight-laced, it will be the laziest, most non-threatening uprising ever.

There will be massing and burning and sharing of never-to-be-actualized ideas.

And then, there will be apathy.

Nick Baker is a junior magazine journalism major and guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].