Covid-19 cancelled 4/20 but cannabis consumers have a second chance to celebrate legalization on 7/10, with social distancing of course. Fortunately cannabis consumers are experts at social distancing. Don’t forget legal Adult-Use is less than a decade old. Many states still enforce prohibition with harsh penalties. While it is safe to publicly celebrate cannabis in states like Colorado and California, in other states cannabis consumers are forced to stay in the closet. Many people new to the cannabis industry may not realize this, but 4/20 events are actually a relatively recent phenomenon. The massive 420 gathering at SF’s Hippie Hill is less than fifteen years old (as is a similar gathering in Santa Cruz). It wasn’t until the mid-1990’s that, thanks to High Times and some cannabis activists hacking a printer at Kinkos, 420 became common knowledge and passed from secret Waldo code into popular culture.
This year due to Covid-19 even legal states had to cancel all 420 celebrations under the threat of expensive citations. Despite this many people celebrated at home enjoying a number of virtual 4/20 events hosted online. This is nothing new for cannabis consumers. We’ve been forced to hide away and socially distance for years. We’ve had to hide from police, our neighbors, our coworkers, our parents, and our community. Due to security concerns, cultivators and manufacturers have to keep private on a need-to-know basis often working alone. Even in California before legalization cannabis use was hush hush for many people too scared or unable to afford to get a doctor’s recommendation. Throughout much of the United States, many cannabis consumers are still holding to this code of silence.
We must acknowledge that People of Color bear the brunt of prohibition. Racism is the enabler of the Drug War. The Drug War is the foundation of mass incarceration that fuels the prison industrial complex. The prison industrial complex has inherited the profits of human exploitation of the plantation system and is the modern incarnation of slavery. It exists to perpetuate profits and white supremacy. The Drug War is not about drugs. It’s about power. Legalization of cannabis and other drugs is feared and harshly opposed because it rips the rug out from underneath this system of oppression. It takes power from the police and gives it to the people. Never to be deterred, the private prison industry is now diversifying into caging children and undocumented immigrants. Cannabis consumers must not allow legalization to create a vacuum for other victims of oppression to fill.
Fortunately each year brings new victories for legalization and cannabis consumers are coming out of the closet. Not only do we celebrate 420, we now have 710! Like April 20th, July 10th has become an internationally recognized cannabis holiday to celebrate the culture of cannabis concentrates and dabbing. 710 is oil spelled backwards and upside down. As shelter-in-place orders are lifted and small groups are allowed to gather, 7/10 can be something to look forward to this summer. A way to hearken back to the olden days when we had to stay within our small group of stoner friends. It is easy to BYO Bong, Blunt, or Dab Rig. Everyone can have their choice. Stay within your social bubble, wash your hands, wear a mask, and sanitize your hands and tools anytime you share something (be careful with fire and flammable alcohol sanitizers). Make sure your circle has a 6 foot radius. Get used to it because these practices will need to stay in place for the foreseeable future. Until we can go back to our “normal” customs of sharing, be safe, stay socially distant, and enjoy the progress we have made going from a criminalized subculture to essential businesses needed to endure a pandemic.