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Locals Share Their Thoughts on Mysterious, Marijuana-Centered 4/20

The unofficial holiday's observation, significance and origin are the subject of some dispute.

It's 4/20, and at exactly 4:20p.m. today, many Americans will be ripping on bongs, hitting joints, smoking blunts and lighting up pipes; in short, getting high. 

But why today and what is the significance of April 20 to both partakers of cannabis and those that don't, well, toke?

The history and mystery of 4/20

The lore surrounding today is mixed and obscure, but some theories are prevalent. 

Some say that 4:20p.m. is teatime in Holland, a mecca for the free use of marijuana. Others say there are 420 active chemicals in marijuana. Maybe (and strangely) it has something to do with Hitler's birthday. The numbers in the title of Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" (in which he croaks, "everybody must get stoned") multiplied come out to 420. 

According to the author of the number one theory on Urban Dictionary, an online user-driven database of the profane, obscure and colloquial, (who writes, "I know my [expletive deleted]"), 4/20 originated at San Rafael High School in 1971 within a group of pot smokers who wanted a discreet term to refer to smoking weed.

According to an investigation by the Huffington Postthe idea of 4/20 may have come from a flyer handed to a reporter for High Times in a parking lot before a Grateful Dead concert. 

What's your theory?

4/20's significance today

I asked Pacifica Patch Facebook fans what 4/20 means to them, and I received a mixed response in the comment feed.

Perhaps the simplest answer, however, came from Facebook user Jimena Hemena:

"Puff puff pass!" she said. 

Not everyone agreed. 

"It should not be celebrated," Lisa Fabiani said. "It's ridiculous."

For Craig Treckeme, the date has nothing to do with marijuana, apparently. 

"My check to the IRS cleared the bank," he said. 

Erin Murphy Macias believes 4/20 is a day of national shame.

"4/20 is the annual reminder that people need to take a serious look at what cannabis means to society as a whole," she said. "Aside from medical use, it is nothing but an excuse to be irresponsible for ones actions. If people need to drink, pop pills, drop acid, snort coke, take meth or smoke pot to cope or entertain themselves we as a society fail."

Hemena fired back.

"Wait who are you people?" she asked. "I am a responsible member of this society and enjoy smoking a joint here and there. I have a job, I pay my bills, I educate others, I'm an activist. No harm done. It is also a very powerful medicine for pain control. The fibers of the plant can transcend into a revitalized cash crop for this country if only idiots that ban it (ahem, politicians with cash lined pockets from pharmaceutical companies) got their heads out of their a**."

What do you think? What does 4/20 mean to you?

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Gabriela Segovia-McGahan April 20, 2012 at 10:39 PM
It's not even 4:20 here and someone has already partaken of the "jazz cigarette" somewhere between my building and the next. I guess it messes with your ability to tell time.
Erin Macias April 20, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the main psychoactive drug in marijuana (among the 400+ others chemicals in there, hence the legend of the 420.) For those "herbalists" out there, it is a chemical and when smoked, it is more carcinogenic than tobacco. I find it ironic that those who tout it as the natural drug for pain, fail to realize it is just as bad as GMO foods, preservatives and pyrethrins. THC is just one more ingredient in the toxic soup we call our environment.
Pacificat April 20, 2012 at 11:33 PM
"when smoked, it is more carcinogenic than tobacco." I think that's false. Please cite your reference for this.
Erin Macias April 21, 2012 at 12:44 AM
In response to Pacificat, here is one of many available resources for people who are concerned about the risks of cancer associated with smoking both tobacco and marijuana: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3340105
RJ April 21, 2012 at 02:25 AM
The coolest hippie in the world right now is mohammad goldstein. He is a leftover hippie from the 60's who has created the largest protest against Washington in fifty years. he is on the net with the plot to overthrow washington for nuttin. every politician in DC knows him and they are trying to keep him from full exposure. he is like Martin Luther King and a breath of truth to the nation. So much truth in his speech. Peace Out
Pacificat April 21, 2012 at 04:17 AM
"We conclude that smoking marijuana, regardless of tetrahydrocannabinol content, results in a substantially greater respiratory burden of carbon monoxide and tar than smoking a similar quantity of tobacco." But people don't smoke 2 packs a day of marijuana cigarettes. If people only smoked 1 or 2 cigarettes a day, that would mean that marijuana would have a a greater burden of carbon monoxide and tar. But they don't. Instead, cigarette smokers smoke 20 times as much tobacco per day as marijuana smokers smoke. The data I'd like to see is the rate of cancer in marijuana smokers who don't smoke tobacco compared to tobacco smokers who don't smoke marijuana.
Pacificat April 21, 2012 at 04:19 AM
"The largest study of its kind has unexpectedly concluded that smoking marijuana, even regularly and heavily, does not lead to lung cancer. "The new findings "were against our expectations," said Donald Tashkin of the University of California at Los Angeles, a pulmonologist who has studied marijuana for 30 years. "We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use," he said. "What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect." "While no association between marijuana smoking and cancer was found, the study findings, presented to the American Thoracic Society International Conference this week, did find a 20-fold increase in lung cancer among people who smoked two or more packs of cigarettes a day." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/25/AR2006052501729.html
Pacificat April 21, 2012 at 04:29 AM
The above was probably written by whoever Mohammad Goldstein really is.
ian butler April 21, 2012 at 05:30 AM
Thanks Pacificat for referencing the Tashkin study. Some propaganda sites only quote the hypothesis, while leaving out the results which were the opposite. The fact is that marijuana has shown lots of cancer fighting potential, but the government's stance makes it very difficult to properly study this amazing plant.
Erin Macias April 21, 2012 at 06:13 AM
Clearly Dr. Tashkin is one of the top researchers on this subject, but I prefer to refer to sources where research is not biased by media (no offense intended.) Tashkin's research is funded by the federal government through the UC research portals and bears significant credibility. His research can be found in full on the NIH website. After scanning through a number of his articles tonight, it is clear the evidence is actually "inconclusive" and his research yields uncertainty on both ends of the argument. Pulmonary damage is clearly evident in his research, but cancer is not. An interesting point to his research is that one control group smoked filtered cigarettes and the other control group does not specify if it was in a pipe (through a screen) or through paper. Maybe he should try a new study using organic tobacco and a hookah and see if the results are the same HAHAHA! As an ex-smoker: smoke is smoke and both contain chemicals. Smoking anything is unhealthy and Tashkin concurs. However, people smoke pot to alter their mind and that is not something to celebrate as a society. I still maintain that if we need to get loaded to deal with the day, unwind or socialize with friends there is something gravely wrong with our culture. To alter Jane Wagner's famous quote: Drugs are a crutch for people who can't cope with reality. Laugh more, it works better. (:
ian butler April 21, 2012 at 01:17 PM
"Pulmonary damage is clearly evident in his research" The only symptom of pulmonary damage was a higher risk of persistent cough. Lung capacity and function was not affected negatively. Tashkin discusses his study in depth here: http://www.blingcheese.com/video-109/med+cannibus.htm "If we need to get loaded to deal with the day, unwind or socialize with friends there is something gravely wrong with our culture." Virtually every culture on earth has had some form of inebriant, it's as universal in human society as sex and music. What's more, just saying no may be bad for your health, as studies have consistently shown that those who abstain from alcohol die at a younger age than those who drink. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2017200,00.html

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