Pot Holiday Goes Mainstream

Goofy 'holiday' becomes touchstone for legalization advocates
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2009 2:38 PM CDT
Soldiers guard seized marijuana before burning it in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, April 7, 2009.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Marijuana enthusiasts will toke up today in celebration of 420, the pot holiday that corresponds to the code for pot consumption across the nation, the Monitor reports. The term 420 was hatched in 1971 by a dozen high school pot smokers who used to meet at 4:20 in the afternoon to light up. “This has gone from a goofy cultural phenomenon to the conveyance of this cultural message,” says Allen St. Pierre, head of pro-decriminalization group NORML.

Roughly 25 million Americans smoke weed, independent studies have found, with some marking the day with parties or rallies for legalization. "The idea is to celebrate on 420 but now what are we going to do to change the law to federally decriminalize marijuana?" says St. Pierre. "Yeah, this was fun, now let's get to work." Law enforcement, however, sees today in a different light: “Making it such a big event takes away from the work we’re trying to do,” says the director of a Texas drug-abuse program. The holiday “is another hurdle we have to fight.”