There is only one number that rivals 69 for being the most overused number ever: 420. Last Friday, away messages were inundated with the phrase and students across campus could be seen giving each other high-fives accompanied by a “Happy Holidays” and some not-so-discreet thumb and index finger to the mouth action. Yes, you smoke weed. We know.
But do you know why you suddenly become a hemp-wearing, Bob Marley enthusiast on April 20? Probably not. And if you think you do, chances are that you are wrong. Allow me to debunk a few of the most common myths:
The police code myth: “420” is not a police radio code for anything related to marijuana or any other drug. Nope, not even in California. And let’s be honest-420 is hardly “code” anymore.
The chemical myth: There are not 420 chemicals in the cannabis plant. There are approximately 315, however the number varies depending on what you’re smoking.
The Holland myth: Smokers in Holland don’t have “tea-time” at 4:20 p.m. It’s actually at 5:30 p.m. Or is it 2:30 p.m.? Whatever. You don’t live there so don’t act like you care.
In actuality, the term 420 originated at San Rafael High School in California (shocking) in 1971 when a group of about a dozen stoners who called themselves “The Waldos” made the number cryptic (no pun intended) for the time of day that they would meet and smoke pot at the campus statue of Louis Pasteur. So when you were in high school and thought that you were fooling your parents by using 420 as a code to get high, remember that it was your parents’ generation that came up with it in the first place. Sorry to disappoint.
On a different note, April 20, 1889 is that prick Adolf Hitler’s birthday and April 20, 1999 is the date that the atrocious Columbine High School shootings occurred. Still eager to celebrate? As far as I am concerned, those are both major buzz kills.
Each generation finds a way to reinvent 420, so let’s use our marijuana-induced pseudo-intellectualism to reinvent it in a positive way. Last Monday an incredible tragedy occurred at Virginia Tech-our sister school-just days before the eighth anniversary of Columbine. Many of us were in high school when Columbine occurred and are in college at the time of the Virginia Tech shootings. That means that the victims of these horrible injustices are members of our generation-our peers. Sure, it was them and not us, but it could have been anyone.
In light of the weight that this week carries for students nation-wide, next April 20, instead of advocating the legalization of marijuana, advocate the illegalization of lax gun control. Instead of arguing for governmental tolerance for smoking weed, argue for governmental intolerance of violence in schools.
Frankly, alcohol is my preferred anti-drug. But for a good cause, I’ll “reluctantly” take a hit or two.or three.
Nayda Verier-Taylor is a junior majoring in journalism and political science. And yes, she’s on Facebook. She can (and should) be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.