4/20: Live Coverage of the 2019 Cannabis Holiday


Welcome to Leafly’s live 4/20 coverage for 2019! As has become tradition, we’ll be updating you throughout the day with rolling coverage of news, events, and other bits and bobs to keep you informed and entertained no matter how you’re spending this most storied day in cannabis.

Check back often! We’ll be posting live reports all day long.

1970s & ’80s: Brownie Mary Bakes Infused Treats for AIDS Patients

In the 1970s, Mary Jane Rathbun started selling “magically delicious” pot brownies as a way to supplement her income as an IHOP waitress. A grandmotherly figure with curly gray hair, a kind-hearted disposition, and a sailor’s vocabulary, she quickly became a beloved figure in the Castro, San Francisco’s predominantly gay neighborhood.

When the AIDS crisis of the 1980s hit the city, Rathbun quickly noticed two things: what was then a little-understood disease vastly disproportionately affected the young gay men she’d taken to thinking of as her children, and cannabis proved incredibly effective in combating their symptoms and restoring their appetites. So she began volunteering as a nurse’s assistant and making her brownies available to patients for free.

Despite three separate arrests, she never stopped baking and never stopped advocating for medical cannabis patients—including playing a leading role in the passage of Proposition 215, California’s groundbreaking medical cannabis law.

As she once announced at a public rally:

If the narcs think I’m going to stop baking pot brownies for my kids with AIDS, they can go fuck themselves in Macy’s window.

Get more Great Moments in Weed History by subscribing to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)SpotifyStitcherSoundcloud, or Google Play.

In California, Legalization Comes at a Price

SAN FRANCISCO — California is doing surging cannabis commerce this 4/20, though discounts are less steep than in years past due to the increased cost of regulations.

Lines started forming as early as 6 a.m. Saturday in the Bay Area for cannabis that was discounted to as little as $1 per item at Berkeley Patients Group in Berkeley. Most stores opened at 8 or 9 o’clock this morning to long lines that stayed that way throughout the morning.

Connected Cannabis, in San Francisco, had lines down the block at 9 a.m. for discounted flowers, extracts, and edibles Saturday morning. Nearby Mission Organic Center did brisk business and handed out free Annie’s hotdogs and snacks.

The Harvest off Mission dispensary offered $2 bongloads in its public lounge, featuring Elyon cannabis brand Animal Cookies as well as Clementine. The public lounge gave out free food from Pizza Hacker and a DJ kept the mood festive.

While edible and extract discounts of up to 50% are common, flowers are seeing smaller discounts in California this year. Connected Cannabis’s best flower deal was a $50 eighth of designer indoor cannabis—Alien Labs Gelato #41—that came with a $1 gram of select Alien Labs strains.

“As we all know well, compliance and discounts aren’t exactly going hand in hand yet in CA.”

cannabis distributor

Harvest offered eighths as high at $60 that came with a $1 pre-roll—pretty tepid.

As one distributor put it: “I thought a lot of the ‘early bird’ special were still pretty aggressive, but as we all know well, compliance and discounts aren’t exactly going hand in hand yet in CA.”

April also marks a massive contraction in the number of licensed cannabis farms, from over 6,000 to an estimated 1,000. There’s debate over the future cannabis supply in the California adult use market. For their part, California’s cannabis director, Nicole Elliott, and the state’s regulator the Bureau of Cannabis Control, urged consumers today to stick to the legal market, despite its shortcomings.

—David Downs

A Soggy Celebration in Toronto

Rain might have dampened celebrations but Toronto crowds still turned out in high spirits.

At Woodbine Park, the wet weather created swampy conditions for the vendors’ market that saw black market distributors hawk their wares, everything from bulk bud to sweet infused treats.

420 Toronto organizer Mark Harrison celebrates 4/20 at 4:20 pm by lighting up as Tokaroo and Miss Dabbs watch in Woodbine Park, Toronto. (John Hryniuk)

At the HotBox Shop & Lounge in Kensington Market, celebrations took place under tents on the backyard patio that has newly been approved by city inspectors to operate as a legal cannabis consumption space—on the condition that they don’t serve food.

The Hotbox 4/20 Block Party in Toronto’s Kensington Market (Jesse Milns)

1970: Fela Kuti Takes an Expensive Shit

Musical artist Fela Kuti became a lifelong cannabis advocate after smoking a joint for the first time at age 31 and experiencing a burst of creative inspiration that he later credited with helping him pioneer the Afro-Beat sound that made him a legend.

A fiery critic of the corrupt government in his home country of Nigeria, in 1970 Fela transformed his personal residence into a commune/recording studio/performance space he dubbed the Kalakuta Republic and declared to be a fully independent country, where smoking cannabis was perfectly legal.

The authorities responded by planting a joint on him during a raid of his compound. But thinking fast, Fela grabbed the evidence from the cops’ hands and ate it. Leading to a three-day standoff in prison, as the authorities demanded he produce a fecal sample so they could test it for THC.

The story of how he escaped that predicament became the inspiration for one of his most famous songs, Expensive Shit.

Get more Great Moments in Weed History by subscribing to the podcast onApple Podcasts (iTunes)SpotifyStitcherSoundcloud, or Google Play.

3,000+ Turn Out at Chicago’s Waldos Forever Fest

Medical cannabis patients, supporters, industry members, and enthusiasts at Do312’s Waldos Forever Fest. (Emily Gray Brosious for Leafly)

CHICAGO — Cannabis enthusiasts, patients, and supporters are out in the Andersonville neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side today to celebrate 4/20 with a day of education and entertainment at the second-annual Waldos Forever Fest.

“It’s not just the marijuana part that I like about this—it’s the education. I think that’s a really important part of all of this.”

Ziff Sistrunk, medical cannabis patient

The free, all-day event runs from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and boasts various educational activities, Three Legged Tacos and Chicago Lunchbox food trucks, and live comedy and music acts, including Big Freedia, Akasha, Air Credits, White Mystery, and more. Right next door, medical cannabis provider Dispensary 33 is sweetening the day’s festivities with special 4/20 discounts for registered Illinois patients.

Organizers said that more than 3,000 people plan to attend the Waldos Forever Festival—named after the legendary group of high school friends back in the 1970s called the ‘Waldos’, to whom the origins of 4/20 are often attributed.

A sizable crowd began filling the street festival grounds well before live entertainment started up at noon. And although the smell of cannabis wasn’t wafting through the air at this particular medical-focused event, the energy was filled with plenty of excitement and positive vibes.

Maureen San Diego enjoys the 4/20 festivities at Waldos Forever Fest before taking the stage to perform cannabis-related comedy and songs. (Emily Gray Brosious for Leafly)

“This is the best day of the year,” said Ziff Sistrunk, an Illinois medical cannabis patient and festivalgoer. “It’s not just the marijuana part that I like about this—it’s the education. I think that’s a really important part of all of this. I’m really interested in the benefits that can come from educating people about medical cannabis.”

—Emily Gray Brosious

4/20 Started With a Treasure Map

Every year on April 20th (4/20), cannabis lovers celebrate their favorite plant with festivals, protests, marches, and smokesouts great and small. But what are the grassroots origins of this high holiday? And how did it spread around the world?

It all began in the fall of 1971 in San Rafael, California, when a group of wisecracking, weed-smoking students known as the Waldos got their call to adventure in the form of a treasure map. One of the Waldos had a friend whose brother was in the Coast Guard at the time, stationed nearby at the Point Reyes Lighthouse. For years this Coast Guard cadet had been planting a small patch of pot in a forgotten area of federal land near the remote outpost, but as harvest time drew near this time around, he got paranoid about his commanding officer busting him. So he drew a rough map showing where to search for the pot patch, and gave the Waldos permission to keep it all for themselves if they could find it before the weather turned or the buds rotted.

With the treasure map in hand, by pre-arrangement, the Waldos met at 4:20 pm on a fateful autumn afternoon under a statue of Louis Pasteur, to get high and gather their forces before setting out in search of the secret weed garden.

Get more Great Moments in Weed History by subscribing to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)SpotifyStitcherSoundcloud, or Google Play.

1960s: Amsterdam Becomes a Cannabis Safe Haven

Amsterdam has long been a safe haven for cannabis freedom, but few today remember the subversive, anarchistic, defiantly pro-weed Dutch Provo movement (short for provocateurs), which used a mix of radical street theater and outrageous political pranks to expose the authorities as out of touch and incompetent, while bringing cannabis coffeeshops and seed banks to the Netherlands.

Hashish smoking was a central ritual at weekly Provos “happenings,” and a push for legalization became a central tenant of the movement’s political demands. Eventually, the Provos ongoing clashes with the law led to the dismissal of Amsterdam’s authoritarian police chief and the resignation of the mayor.

When the movement officially disbanded in 1967, many Provos moved full-time into cannabis activism, including by founding the Lowlands Weed Company. Having discovered a rather sizable loophole in Dutch law (which banned only the “dried tops” of the cannabis plant), the upstart venture began openly selling small cannabis plants and packs of seeds from a garishly painted houseboat floating in one of central Amsterdam’s many picturesque canals.

Get more Great Moments in Weed History by subscribing to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)SpotifyStitcherSoundcloud, or Google Play.

4:20 Arrives at Baltimore’s Charm City Smoke Fest

Photographer J.M. Giordano landed in Baltimore just in time to capture the festivities as the clock struck 4:20 at Baltimore’s Charm City Smoke Fest.

Tiara Brown celebrates 4/20 at Baltimore’s Charm City Smoke Fest (J.M. Giordano for Leafly)

Special Sauce in a jar at Baltimore’s Charm City Smoke Fest (J.M. Giordano for Leafly)
Members of the Cannabis podcast The Baking Hour: (from left) Clint Bundle, Krash with the Stash, Cheechthechef, and Glen Deeezel at Baltimore’s Charm City Smoke Fest (J.M. Giordano for Leafly)

LA Retailers Get Creative to Allow On-Site Consumption

LOS ANGELES — Around 10 a.m., a commuter bus pulled up to LA Kush, a cannabis retailer in the Westlake–MacArthur Park neighborhood. Store manager Joshua Callier had been working for a month to find a loophole around California’s consumption laws when he hatched a plan to hire a private bus company with a cannabis consumption permit to bypass the law.

Consumption in retail stores is banned in most California cities, as is public consumption, which means celebrating 4/20 at storefronts can be a little boring. But some retailers, like LA Kush, have found ways to get around the laws.

The flow of early foot traffic at the shop, despite relatively dreary weather, was fueled in part by the shop’s attractive $1-for-an-eighth deal, which predictably didn’t last long. The shop also served coffee and donuts to welcome the first wave of 4/20 revelers.

(Lexis-Olivier Ray for Leafly)

Later, on the bus, a diverse group from around the country socialized while classic West Coast tunes from LA locals like Cypress Hill and Nipsey Hussle filled the air. The music leaked onto the streets where people had lined up to buy cannabis.

Just a couple years ago, events like this didn’t happen in LA—especially not legally and in neighborhoods like Westlake. This year, the legal market in LA is finding creative ways to make this 4/20 bigger than ever.

—Lexis-Olivier Ray

Las Vegas Is Stocking Up for 4/20

LAS VEGAS – Shouts of “Happy 4/20” greeted customers while employees from Nevada Wellness Center high-fived shoppers as they walked inside the store’s double doors on Saturday morning. “My Girl” by The Temptations played in the background as clear, sunny 85-degree spring temperatures seemed to further encourage the celebration.

Frank Hawkins, a former Super Bowl-winning running back with the NFL’s Raiders franchise in Oakland and Los Angeles whose post-football career includes co-owning Nevada Wellness Center, said his early customer count was “better than expected.” Hawkins discounted half-ounces of flower up to 60 percent off regular price, down to $75, to help draw selective customers from the increasingly competitive legal marijuana market.

“People are more familiar with 4/20 so they’ve had a chance to pick their spots,” Hawkins said. “They know what they like by now and they might go to a few different spots for the deals.”

Owen Walker, a shopper at Reef Dispensary, located just a block off the Las Vegas Strip, said the marijuana store was one of three he and a group of friends were planning on buying from Saturday before a late-night smoking and dabbing session. After pinpointing deals on flower at Reef and shatter at nearby dispensaries Essence and Exhale Nevada, Walker said he and two friends split up to buy the products separately to minimize time waiting in line.

“Divide and conquer,” Walker explained. “We’ll get everything we need on time.”

— Chris Kudialis

Food Deals to Accompany Your 4/20

Carl’s Jr. and Ben & Jerry’s aren’t the only food companies capitalizing on the 4/20 holiday. Check out this list of companies offering great deals—some will definitely make sense, but you may be surprised by a few.

Pizza Hut

Need a Hershey’s triple-chocolate brownie to accompany that pizza? Pizza Hut’s offering one for $4.20, only on 4/20.

Hidden Valley Ranch

How much ranch can you put on your greasy pizza and tater tots? Even condiment company Hidden Valley Ranch is jumping in on the game, offering five lucky contestants a year’s supply of their Blasted Ranch Dressing and a $250 food delivery.  

Dos Toros Tacos

This NYC and Chicago chain is rewarding its Instagram followers for getting 4,200 likes—get $4.20 nachos all day at all their locations on 4/20.

Ike’s Sandwiches

San Francisco-based sandwich shop Ike’s is offering a couple of their sandwiches for $4.20 through today. Make sure you grab a voucher before you head in.

Toppers Pizza

Wisconsin-based pizza company is declaring today “Worldwide Topperstix Day.” Starting at 4:20 p.m., get 50% off any pizza sticks.

In New York City, Good 4/20 Vibes

In Brooklyn, friends and cannabis industry entrepreneurs met on the back patio of a hip local bar. (Max Savage Levenson for Leafly)

NEW YORK — Although New Yorkers woke up to a rainy 4/20, the skies soon cleared, and it took only a matter of minutes for High Noon, a party thrown at one of Brooklyn’s finest bars, to escalate into full-on merriment. On the brightly-painted back patio, a delightful mix of pungent smoke and cool mist hung in the air as friends met and mingled.

Curated by local cannabis activism organizations Cannaclusive, Estrohaze and the Kushion Chill Series, High Noon offered one of the most diverse 4/20 events in the city. “I’m loving the vibe,” remarked one attendee. “I’m loving seeing my people out.”

Additionally, the event offered on-site consumption, and even the organizers seemed surprised that some of the flower, including top-notch strains like Peanut Butter Breath and Ice Cream Cake, from California and Washington, had sold out within an hour. More infused products were available inside, including snacks from Tainted Love BK, edibles from baked and a potent infused honey from Supreme Green Cuisine.

“It’s dope to be able to do this in New York, where [cannabis] isn’t always out in the open,” remarked Mary Pryor, of Cannaclusive. Coming on the heels of New York’s recent failure to legalize cannabis, events like High Noon show that New York’s cannabis community isn’t going away; in fact, it’s stronger than ever.

— Max Savage Levenson

Las Vegas Retailers Had Lines out the Door—at Midnight

LAS VEGAS — The 4/20 rush started early at Planet 13, billed as the largest cannabis retail space in the world, with over 16,200 square feet of store. The mega-facility, open 24 hours, had lines out the door starting just after midnight on Saturday, spokesman Brandon Garcia said, continuing a trend that began earlier this week.

Lines of eager shoppers were still waiting outside the door at noon, as Planet 13 gave away boxing gloves signed by Mike Tyson and water bottles with tickets for marijuana discounts inside them, among other goodies.

Despite the rush, Planet 13 spokesman Brandon Garcia said the shop was expecting Saturday’s customer count to be about the same as Friday’s tally of 3,200 marijuana holiday shoppers. The store record, set during its grand opening, was closer to 3,300 transactions. “People tend to buy their products the day before the holiday,” he said. “But you never know, especially because 4/20 falls on a weekend this year.”

Giveaways—specifically the raffling off of an entire pound of marijuana flower—brought over 1,500 customers to The+Source last year for Nevada’s first 4/20 with legal adult-use sales. The west Las Vegas dispensary is only raffling off two ounces of flower this year, but outdoor entertainment including live music, a magician, glassblowers and mural painters had over 30 customers waiting in line before The+Source’s 8 a.m. opening enjoying a Vegas-style experience.
—Chris Kudialis

Here Are Your 4/20 Holiday Deals

Don’t hit up the shop without browsing our 4/20 deals. We’ve partnered with retailers across the country to bring you deep discounts on pickup orders. Find your state, find a retailer near you, and enjoy the savings. Cheers!

If you’re looking to celebrate with a splurge, we’ve also pulled together some of the best online cannabis accessories deals out there, from glass to dab tools to deluxe vaporizers.

1971: Carl Sagan and His Best Bud Get Blazed, Save the Universe

In 1967, Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Lester Grinspoon set out to research cannabis sufficiently enough to convince his best friend—famed astronomer Carl Sagan—to stop smoking weed all the time. But after making a fateful trip to the library, Grinspoon returned convinced the case against Mary Jane was all lies and propaganda.

So he wrote a book called Marihuana Reconsidered (1971) that changed the conversation around cannabis forever. It even included an anonymous essay from Carl Sagan (writing as Mr. X) on his love of cannabis as a creative catalyst and spiritual aid.

I do not consider myself a religious person in the usual sense, but there is a religious aspect to some highs. The heightened sensitivity in all areas gives me a feeling of communion with my surroundings, both animate and inanimate. Sometimes a kind of existential perception of the absurd comes over me and I see with awful certainty the hypocrises and posturing of myself and my fellow men. And at other times, there is a different sense of the absurd, a playful and whimsical awareness. Both of these senses of the absurd can be communicated, and some of the most rewarding highs I’ve had have been in sharing talk and perceptions and humor. Cannabis brings us an awareness that we spend a lifetime being trained to overlook and forget and put out of our minds.

Get more Great Moments in Weed History by subscribing to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)SpotifyStitcherSoundcloud, or Google Play.

Bay Area 4/20 Starts With Deals, Dessert—and Fog

The gates are open at Golden Gate Park’s “Hippie Hill” this morning, as San Francisco and the greater Bay Area wake and bake in thick coastal fog for 4/20.

In Golden Gate Park’s Robin Williams Meadow, a space that can hold more than 20,000 people, a free smokeout is happening. At one time unsanctioned, the decade-old gathering is now permitted by the city of San Francisco. Cannabis company Greenrush.com pays for security and amenities throughout the daylong event.

The breezy mood will peak at 4:20 p.m., when Greenrush conducts a “Bud Drop” similar to a New Year’s Eve ball drop.

Meanwhile, the originators of the term “420,” The Waldos, are touring Bay Area stores today, stopping by Hi-Fidelity in Berkeley, The Apothecarium’s San Francisco location, and The Vapor Room. The Waldos now sell their own vaporizer cartridges through Chemistry.

Major dispensaries Berkeley Patients Group (BPG), Harborside, Magnolia, The Green Door, Harvest, and SPARC all plan day-long mixes of free food, music, speakers, swag, and cannabis deals. BPG turns 20 years old and expects 1,200 people today.

And at major venues today, there’s 420 Trippie Hill with Berner at The Midway, 4/20 Comedy Festival, and the 420 Spring Blossom Soiree at the Kabuki Hotel. Also, a newly licensed cannabis bar—dubbed a “consumption lounge”—opens in Oakland today, called FLYT.

Lastly, ride-share service Lyft offers $4.20 in ride credits today in San Francisco, so don’t get behind the wheel.

—David Downs

A Somber Mood in New Jersey’s Capital

TRENTON — Cannabis advocates gathered at the New Jersey Statehouse to mark 4/20 with a combined rally, protest, and smoke out. Gov. Phil Murphy raised hopes and expectations when he campaigned hard on cannabis reform and won, but it’s now been 14 months since Murphy took his oath and reforms aren’t happening quickly enough for a properly ebullient 4/20 celebration.

Amanda Hoffman, a board member at the Coalition for Medical Marijuana of NJ, is in Trenton highlighting the need to pass legislation to legalize cannabis and improve NJ’s underwhelming medical cannabis program. “Medical marijuana is too expensive for many patients to access,” Hoffman told Leafly. “We’re fighting for homegrow and to break up the current monopoly, because prices and still high and supplies are still low.”

She’s right.

“This urgently needed legislation would reduce recertification to once a year. Until then, I have to prove my incurable illness four times a year.”

Edward “Lefty” Grimes, left, streams a podcast from the Statehouse lawn. (Jay Lassiter for Leafly)

Edward “Lefty” Grimes travels the state documenting the obstacles to progress. Local opposition to dispensaries is strong in many towns, where grievances include concerns about the smell and other alleged inconveniences Grimes was streaming his award-winning podcast, Sativa Cross, from the Statehouse lawn.

“They’re complaining about the stench of cannabis companies,” he told Leafly. “They’re like, ‘These farms are going to stink up the neighborhood,’” so I get up there and I say, ‘You know what smells worse than cannabis? A dead baby who just died in his mother’s arms after a 26-hour seizure. You know it smells worse than cannabis? A veteran sitting in his own waste with all the windows shut for a month with a gun in his mouth. That smells worse than cannabis.’”

It’s a somber mood today in Trenton. Activists did not come to play.

—Jay Lassiter

1978: Willie Nelson Smoked a Joint on White House Roof

In September 1978, not long after getting busted and briefly jailed for cannabis possession in the Bahamas, Willie Nelson traveled to Washington, DC, to play a concert at the White House that climaxed with him singing a duet with First Lady Rosalyn Carter. Afterwards, he was invited to stay overnight in the Lincoln Bedroom. According to Willie, following a pleasant dinner, and right before turning in, a “White House insider” offered him a private tour of the building.

“I guess the roof of the White House is the safest place to smoke dope.”

Willie Nelson

Asked if he wanted to venture out on the roof of the White House and take in the presidential residence’s unparalleled views of the city, Willie happily accepted. Much to his surprise—and delight—upon reaching the building’s apex, his escort slyly offered him a joint to smoke while gazing down at our nation’s capitol from one of the highest points in the city.

Here’s how the incident is described in Willie: An Autobiography:

Sitting on the roof of the White House in Washington, DC, with a beer in one hand and a fat Austin Torpedo in the other, I let the weed cover me with a pleasing cloud and drifted into a reflective mood… Nobody from the Secret Service was watching us—or if they were, it was with the intention of keeping us out of trouble instead of getting us into it. I guess the roof of the White House is the safest place to smoke dope.

Get more Great Moments in Weed History by subscribing to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)SpotifyStitcherSoundcloud, or Google Play.

Edibles Are Great—at the Right Amount

If you’re new to edibles, the best advice is to start low and go slow. Don’t rush to gobble down that brownie, no matter how delicious. This handy chart is a great resource for avoiding an unpleasant experience. Read the full story for more advice on how to find the right edible for you.

(Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)

How to Be a True Pal to Your Too-High Friend

Whether someone’s new to cannabis or just couldn’t resist another infused chocolate, it’s certainly possible to cross the line from high into too high. There’s no shame in that. But if you or a friend aren’t enjoying your 4/20 experience, that’s a problem. We’re here to help.

(Gillian Levine for Leafly)

Looking for more tips and tricks? Head over to the full article.

Carl’s Jr.’s CBD Burger Draws Crush of Customers

“As soon as we opened the doors, we had about 30 people in line and about 10 cars deep (in the drive-thru),” Carl’s Jr. District Manager Alex McConnell told Leafly this morning as customers streamed into a lone Denver store for a one-day-only sale of the chain’s promotional CBD-infused burger. “So we hit the ground running, that’s for sure.”

The store reportedly sold 102 burgers in the first hour of the promotion, and around 274 by 9:00 a.m. It expects to be sold out of its allotted 1,000 CBD burgers, which include locally-sourced, hemp-derived CBD, by about 4:00 p.m.

Tracy Lathrop plunked down $4.20 to try out a one-day-only CBD burger. (Bruce Kennedy for Leafly)

According to a company press release the Rocky Mountain High: CheeseBurger Delight (CBD, get it?)  “features two 100% charbroiled beef patties paired with Carl’s Jr. signature Santa Fe Sauce infused with hemp-based CBD oil, pickled jalapeños, pepper jack cheese and Crisscut® fries to give the burger the extra crunch – all between a premium bun.” The burger sells for $4.20 each, in honor of the day, two per customer limit.

But inquiring minds want to know: How does the thing actually taste? Read our full story to find out.

Spotlight on Advocacy at the National Cannabis Festival

WASHINGTON, DC —The 20,000 expected attendees at today’s National Cannabis Festival will be greeted by 70-degree temperatures and abundant sunshine. It’s perfect weather for taking in live music sets by headliners Ludacris and Action Bronson, sure, but there’s more here than munchies and giant inflatable joints. Cannabis advocates and educators from across the region are promoting awareness of the political and social issues plaguing the nascent industry.

“4/20 is a day to celebrate the plant and all its healing capabilities, but it’s also [a day] to take action and consider the ways we need to reform our laws,” said Queen Adesuyi, the Drug Policy Alliance’s policy coordinator. “We’ve partnered with the National Cannabis Festival since the beginning. … It’s much bigger [this year]. Every year it’s continued to grow in line with the way support for marijuana has throughout the country.”

With Democratic presidential candidates almost unanimously supporting ending federal prohibition and Congress considering bills such as the STATES Act to harmonize state and federal law, advocacy groups are heralding the dawn of a new era for cannabis inside the Beltway.

“For a long time, the states were the primary focus of moving legislation. There was just nothing that would move forward federally,” said Patrick Nightingale, executive director of Pittsburgh NORML. “Now we have a number of bills in the House of Representatives and the Senate. … It is a very exciting time for NORML chapters now to come to Washington, DC, knowing that our voice is being heard.”

Policy advocates are enjoying larger crowds and great weather here at RFK Stadium, but they’re hoping the real action will take place a few miles west, in the halls of the Capitol.

—Raj Chander

Maryland Celebrates With Live Music, Free BBQ

For the second year running, Nature’s Care and Wellness in Perryville, MD, is throwing an outdoor 4/20 festival with food (including free barbecue from Mojo BBQ), live music, and all sorts of vendors. We sent photographer J.M. Giordano to check out the scene.

Emmitt Best and Brooke Thompson at the Nature’s Care & Wellness 4/20 Bash in Cecil County, Maryland (J.M. Giordano for Leafly)

Teresa Bagley and her custom rock painting at the Nature’s Care & Wellness 4/20 Bash in Cecil County, MD (J.M. Giordano for Leafly)

The band Edjacated Phools perform to a crowd of a few hundred at the Nature’s Care & Wellness 4/20 Bash in Cecil County, MD (J.M. Giordano for Leafly)

Weed Pastor Corey (right) and friend at the Nature’s Care Wellness 4/20 Bash in Cecil County, MD (J.M. Giordano for Leafly)

Kassandra Aponte of Edgewood, MD, watches herself take a “virtual toke” from an inflatable joint at the Nature’s Care Wellness 4/20 Bash in Cecil County, MD (J.M. Giordano for Leafly)

Facepaint at the Nature’s Care Wellness’ 4/20 Bash in Cecil County, MD (J.M. Giordano for Leafly)

Stoner-Walk to Save a Tortoise

We’re wondering why the Joshua Tree National Park chose to tweet this out on 4/20. It’s curious. Just saying. Because their instructions on how to correctly assist a desert tortoise out of harm’s way on a lonely road…well, it’s exactly how some of us move after an assist from the herb.

4/20 Greetings From Prohibition States

As millions of Americans in legal states celebrate their 4/20 freedom today, many Americans in prohibition states are working hard to change local laws. In Boise, Russ Belville is working the crowd at Boise Hempfest, collecting signatures for the Idaho Cannabis Coalition‘s medical marijuana ballot measure.

In Austin, the folks at Texas NORML are hanging out on a beautiful day at ReggaeFest:

Meanwhile, across town, our friends at Austin’s premiere glassware emporium are prepping the stage for their Happy Clouds Festival, which was scheduled to kick off at noon local time.

Celebrate 4/20 With 10 ‘Great Moments in Weed History’

Great Moments in Weed History w/ Abdullah and Bean (recently named by Leafly as one of the best podcasts to get high to) delves deep into humanity’s more than 10,000-year relationship with cannabis to find the humor, heart, and historical importance of this very special plant.

To celebrate 4/20, they’re helping us count down 10 of their favorite stories from the long and fascinating history of cannabis. Read on for the first installment, check back for more, and don’t forget to subscribe via Apple Podcasts (iTunes)SpotifyStitcherSoundcloud, or Google Play.

1964: Bob Dylan Gets The Beatles High for the First Time

When Bob Dylan arrived at New York City’s swanky Delmonico Hotel on an August night in 1964, he mistakenly believed the Beatles—whom he was meeting for the first time—already smoked grass, based on a misheard lyric on I Want to Hold Your Hand. But when Dylan offered to smoke them out, John Lennon had to bashfully point out that the lads from Liverpool were actually singing “I can’t hide,” not “I get high” on the chorus.

From there, a scene unfolded straight out of a B-movie stoner comedy, only it starred some of the 20th century’s most influential and enduring artists at the very outset of their storied careers.

According to journalist Al Aronowitz’s lengthy first person account of the encounter:

I still hadn’t learned how to roll a joint in those days, so when the Beatles agreed to try some, I asked Dylan to roll the first joint. Bob wasn’t much of a roller either, and a lot of the grass fell into the big bowl of fruit on the room service table…

Get more Great Moments in Weed History by subscribing to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)SpotifyStitcherSoundcloud, or Google Play.

What Should 4/20 Become?

Is 4/20 on its way to becoming an actual holiday? Maybe not yet. But it’s definitely got a lot of companies thinking about how to cash in. Today’s Guardian quotes Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University, who says 4/20 is on its way to becoming a mainstream national holiday and that’s largely a function of the booming marijuana business.

The discussion what 4/20 means and how it should evolve continues to unfold.

“It’s still a celebration of marijuana but the conversation has been expanded by brands that tie into the cannabis industry and for marketers to tie into something that has a coolness to it,” Yarrow told the paper. That conversation, she added, is increasingly focused on people wondering what role cannabis may play in their life.

In cannabis culture that discussion of 4/20, what it means and how it should evolve, continues to unfold. Leafly’s Elise McDonough polled 12 cannabis leaders on the question recently. “In my perfect world, 4/20 would become a day to remember the harms of prohibition, honor those who fought to end it, and smoke some amazing cannabis,” said Flow Kana executive Amanda Reiman. Cannabis Camera photographer Kim Sidwell noted: “4/20 celebrations present the OPPORTUNITY to present a positive image of cannabis consumers to the world … unfortunately, the opposite often occurs.”

Author David Bienenstock offered an interesting take on The Roll-Up podcast yesterday. So many holidays are based on religious ritual, national history, or elder reverence. 4/20 could be, in part, a day to celebrate universal human experience of fun, delight, mirth, laughter, silliness. As Bienenstock said: “The absurdity is the point.”

Bruce Barcott

NJ Medical Community Left Out in the Rain

CHERRY HILL, NJ — Cannabis aficionados in New Jersey hoping for a nice spring day to celebrate 4/20 were disappointed to wake up to flash flood warnings. It felt like a metaphor here in NJ, where the cannabis legalization debate has gone sideways.

The best thing about 4/20 in New Jersey is that patients can actually score the good stuff for $10 per gram.

Likewise our medical cannabis program continues to underwhelm. Many of the Chris Christie-era regulations are still in place and patients shell out $500 for an ounce of top-shelf cannabis. Plus sales tax. Minus home-cultivation.

The best thing about 4/20 in New Jersey is that patients can actually score the good stuff (it’s all relative) for $10 per gram at their dispensary. In many states that’s highway robbery. But in NJ, home to only six dispensaries serving 9 million people, $10 a gram is quite the bargain. But I won’t be shopping at any of them. I can’t. They wouldn’t let me in. Apparently I ran afoul of NJ’s overzealous regulations.

(Jay Lassiter for Leafly)

Anyone enrolled in NJ’s program must recertify their qualifying condition every 60 days—and yes, that’s crazy. My certification ran out on April 18, when I failed to prove I haven’t been magically cured of HIV. I LOL’d imagining how that conversation with my doctor might go.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Lassiter, you’re no longer legally permitted to smoke cannabis,” she says. “On a more positive note, you’re no longer HIV positive.”

I’ve been HIV+ for 27 years and I’ve used cannabis the entire time. Most of that time as a criminal. Including, sadly, today.

Jay Lassiter

It’s a Holiday! Dress Your Best

You ain’t showing up for Passover seder or Easter service in your tatty Old Navy t-shirt, are you? So do it up right today. Take a lesson from comedian and Cooking on High star Ngaio Bealum, who’ll be rocking a full house at The Paramount Room in Oklahoma City later tonight. (And perhaps sampling the dispensaries this afternoon—he planned ahead and brought his card to enjoy that fine reciprocity.)

And if you want to go full-on fabulous, respect the commitment of Vicky DeVille, aka Princess High the Cannabis Queen.

CBD Burgers Already Flying Out the Door

Look, a cheeseburger at 6 a.m. ain’t our thing, but if you want to go there, more power to you. So here’s a morning salute to Johnny Wysocki, the Denver man who showed up in the wee hours and claimed the second CBD-infused burger from the Carl’s Jr. location at 4050 Colorado Blvd. The cost? $4.20 each, of course. Wysocki ordered two. No word on how they tasted. Also of note: Carl’s Jr. is limiting customers to two burgers per person, and patrons must be 18 or older. This may be the first time anyone’s ever carded a Carl’s Jr. customer.

The True Origin of 4/20 (and Other Good Stuff)

No, “420” is not police code for cannabis consumption. And unless you know about the treasure map, there’s more to that origin story you’ve likely heard than “let’s meet at 4:20 to blaze it.” The truth is that it all started with a Coast Guard sailor, a secret map, and some students in California known as the Waldos. Explore the epic tale as reported by Leafly contributor David Bienenstock, one of California’s most seasoned cannabis reporters.

But wait, there’s more! Act now, or whenever, and we’ll throw in a chronic chronology of great moments in 4/20 history. It includes winners like this guy, who probably deserves a toast today:

How We Got Here

If you’d like to spend more of 4/20 paying homage to the pioneers who got us here, we’ve got you covered. If you’re smoking some Jack Herer, maybe read his biography, too—or that of fellow trailblazer Dennis Peron, often called the father of medical marijuana. Or how about “Brownie Mary,” who earned her nickname baking cannabis-infused brownies, which she gave away for free to San Francisco AIDS patients? If you want to go way back, check out the story of the first two Americans arrested during the country’s more than eight-decade war on cannabis, how Vietnam veterans medicated in wartime, or the way racism helped give rise to the drug war. Or, for a change of pace, read about the Deadhead glass artist who forever changed the way we look at pipes and bongs. We stand on the shoulders of giants, and it’s a perfect day to remember them.

Ben Adlin

Spliff: A Film Festival ‘For Stoners, by Stoners’

SEATTLE — The first-annual Spliff Film Fest, an amateur film festival “for stoners, by stoners,” has kicked off at select locations in Washington, Oregon, California, and New Mexico. Organized by the same people behind Hump Fest, which features amateur erotica and locally produced pornography, Spliff’s entries—which can be no longer than four minutes and 20 seconds—salute marijuana’s myriad effects.

Stocking Up? Order Online for 4/20 and Save Some Cash

“We’ve been toying with other ideas for film festivals, and we came up with the pot idea because we’re all just a bunch of potheads,” said Robert Crocker, Spliff’s executive producer. “We wanted to keep it in the same format as Hump—they have to be short films, and we asked filmmakers to give us something that [shows] us what pot meant to them or what do they like to do when they’re stoned.”

More than 250 entries ultimately streamed in, each with its own take on the meaning of cannabis. There’s a comical, mid-90s-esque PSA called “N.O.P.E.”; a psychedelic film called “Corporate Coitus”; and a piece that explores the dire consequences of the munchies: “Munchie Massacre.” Crocker’s favorites included a film called “Candy Sandwich,” about two stoners making a sweet treat, and another dubbed “Good Game Bud,” about two guys on a couch trying to pass an entire joint without ashing it.

“The submissions were really, really good,” Crocker said. “We learned that people are much more comfortable with pot. Just from that response and the quality, we feel really good about how it all came out.”

Alexa Peters

Is Cross-Border Cannabis Commerce Coming?

“Welcome to my annual call celebrating 4/20 eve,” began one of Congress’s most effective legalization advocates during a press call on Friday. “I want to begin by observing how much we have to celebrate in the course of this last year.”

In an informal and wide-ranging conversation with reporters, Blumenauer, a founding member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus and the architect of what he’s called a “Blueprint to Legalize Marijuana,” discussed victories both in Congress and at the state level over the past year. He also struck an optimistic tone for the future, predicting progress on high-priority fronts including banking reform, access for veterans, and interstate cannabis trade. He even teased the idea of a North American cannabis compact, a sort of trade deal that could eventually allow international cannabis commerce among the United States, Canada, and Mexico, which is also considering legalization.

“I’m bringing some people together to talk this through, about how to do it,” Blumenauer explained when asked for details. “It’s something that needs to be unpacked. We’re kind of busy right now in a variety of areas, but it’s something I plan on exploring.” He also expressed support for state-level efforts, such as Oregon’s, to pursue interstate cannabis trade.

Blumenauer credited growing public support for cannabis reform with changing the Congressional landscape, pointing out, for example, the exit of staunch prohibitionist Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX). “One of the reasons he is an ex-member of Congress,” Blumenauer said, “is because of his unrelenting opposition.”

“Just today there was an announcement of a CBS poll that showed support at the highest level ever, 65%,” he noted, as well as majority support among both Republicans and people over 65. “It’s a remarkable development in recent years where it has steadily, steadily increased.”

This year, he said at the end of the call, “there’s a lot to celebrate with 4/20.”

Ben Adlin

It’s the Perfect Day to Learn to Roll a Joint

(Sara Dilley/Leafly)

The first time I ever tried to roll a joint, it was 4/20. I wrapped the paper around a pencil, sealed it, then stuffed in some flower. I went outside with a friend, sparked it, and proceeded to watch the thing canoe so badly that I brought most of the unburnt cannabis back home in the palm of my hand.

Don’t be like me back then. Find a friend, grab your supplies, and get crafting. Practice makes perfect. (Don’t forget the crutch!)

— Ben Adlin

I Scream for Ice Cream, but Expungement Is Better

This week Ben & Jerry’s announced a partnership with Caliva, the California cannabis retailer and delivery service, to raise money to clear old marijuana records—a process called expungement.

All Californians 21 and older with valid ID who place orders with Caliva on Friday and Saturday get a free pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half-Baked with their cannabis order. On Saturday, 4.2% of all Caliva revenue on delivery orders—and in-store orders in San Jose—benefit Code for America’s “Clear My Record” program. Justice never tasted so sweet.

Read the full article here.

‘You’re Welcome,’ Say America’s Cannabis Farmers

You think you’ve had a busy month? Don’t even. Early April is holiday season for cannabis farmers and processors. They’ve got to package and ship tons of product out to retail stores before the crowds descend during 4/20 week. And that means long hours, especially for small business owners.

Here’s a slice of life courtesy of Danielle Rosellison, owner of Trail Blazin’ Cannabis in Bellingham, WA. Ah, the glamour!

Bruce Barcott

Cops Are Looking for Stoned Drivers. Don’t Be One

End this happy holiday in bed, not jail. Find yourself a designated driver or take advantage of the many 4/20 deals offered by rideshare companies.

Here’s the news you can use: Law enforcement agencies all over the country are mounting DUI emphasis patrols on 4/20, because 4/20 isn’t exactly a secret anymore. We’ve seen announcements from cops in Bellevue and Spokane, WA; Lawrence, KS; and statewide across Missouri. Those are just the places that got news hits. Police in most legal states will be paying extra attention to the roads on Saturday.

In Washington, the State Patrol will be deploying its updated mobile impaired driving unit (MIDU) in the Bellevue area, east of Seattle. The MIDU is a 36-foot motorhome retrofitted to function as a mobile DUI processing center. Drug recognition experts (DRE) will be on board for evaluations. The MIDU will also be staffed with phlebotomists for legal blood draws.

Check in your area to see if local companies might be offering special deals on Uber or Lyft rides. Oregrown, based in Bend, OR, is offering $10 off your Lyft or Uber ride to or from the store’s annual 4/20 event. Lyft is offering a $4.20 discount for rides anywhere in Colorado on 4/20, and the same deal applies statewide in Massachusetts. The rideshare company also has sweet deals in Detroit, Las Vegas, Ottawa, Seattle, and Toronto. Check out Lyft’s 420 Ride page for all the special deals.

—Bruce Barcott

Hey, look at that! You made it all the way to the end of our 4/20 liveblog. Treat yourself.


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