While the Colorado House was in session tweaking their version of the medical marijuana bill a week ago last Tuesday, thousands of mostly young citizens were gathered across the street lighting up personal stashes of recreational marijuana which they hope will soon, like medical marijuana, get a fair hearing in the halls of government. They want an end to prohibition. They want to quit having to use code words like 420 when discussing and conducting their pastime.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010 marked Denver's 3rd annual 420 protest rally. As many as 10,000 attended this year at Civic Center Park. At precisely 4:20 pm, a great many in the crowd lit up at the same time, creating a low-hanging cloud of marijuana smoke which brought triumphant cheers from the crowd.
The 420 rally is always held on 4/20 but that isn't the reason it's called 420. 420 is the international code word for everything to do with marijuana and the culture surrounding it. There are many myths concerning the origins of the name but Steven Hager of High Times Magazine says he knows the real story.
Steven writes that 420 was founded in 1971 when a group of six San Raphael, CA high school students, calling themselves the Waldos, would meet every day to smoke weed precisely at 4:20 at a campus statue of Louis Pasteur. It didn't matter whether they were with parents or teachers or cops, using 420 as their code word, they could discuss plans for their pot-smoking escapades right out loud and no one was the wiser. In a few years the code was in common use around the Bay Area. After 40 years, the term is the international code word for cannabis and its culture.
I'm not certain, but I'm willing to bet that the code is now known by a few parents and teachers and cops and DEA agents, too. Maybe it's time to finally change the code. Perhaps change it to the name of a small forest animal like lemur or bark beetle - just until there's no need for a code.
It was Yogi Berra who said, "I just want to thank everyone who made this day necessary."