By Ethan S.
According to Wikipedia, the term 4:20 (or 420, 4/20, or four-twenty) was first used by a group of teenagers in 1971 in San Rafael, California who met up at 4:20 p.m. to look for an abandoned marijuana crop they had heard about. The group ended up gathering so many times that they simply used the term “420” as a codeword for meeting up. The term spread and is now used all over the world to represent not only a convenient time to smoke – just enough time to roll a jay after class ends – but also the entire culture surrounding cannabis and its use.
Speaking of which, according to a semi-recent Center for Orthopedic Research and Education (CORE) survey, about a quarter of you reading this at K get high. Probably more since figures like this tend to be low estimates.
Marijuana is not uncommon. In fact, it’s the most widely used illicit drug. Surveys have indicated that it is easier for underage teens to get marijuana than it is to get alcohol, something that I am sure many readers can affirm. Marijuana is also safe. In thousands of years of people using cannabis for recreational, spiritual and medical reasons, there has not been a single recorded overdose, let alone death, caused by marijuana. Not one.
While marijuana itself doesn’t hurt people, marijuana prohibition does. When the government prohibits a substance, it gives up any mechanisms to regulate it. Instead of making sure the production, distribution and sale of marijuana occurs safely and fairly, the government places regulation of the industry in the hands of gangs and cartels that are violent and uncontrollable.
You know where this is headed: legalize it. Marijuana needs to be legal. It needs to be legal because it will be safer and economically sound. We should be allowed to decide what we put into our bodies and we should be provided help when we put something unsafe into our bodies. If I overdose on something (but not weed, because that’s impossible, remember?) I shouldn’t be locked up; I should be provided access to treatment and help.
Here’s the part where I bring it all back to 4/20. Wednesday the K College chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) is hosting a “4/20 Fest” on the quad—weather permitting—beginning possibly a few minutes before 4:20. We will have live music, games, activities and a bake sale to support the organization. Stop by and hang out–it’ll be awesome, I swear. But remember, this isn’t about smoking weed. This isn’t about promoting drug use. This is about allowing people access to medicinal marijuana. This is about the ability to make responsible choices without the constant threat of arrest. This is about reforming drug policies so that they don’t destroy more lives than the drugs themselves.
So stop by the quad on 4/20 and enjoy the festivities. And if you’re down with the cause – and especially if you’re not – come to the SSDP meetings at 7:00 in Hicks 110 to get involved.