'420' Events Not Just Grass-Roots

'420' Events Not Just Grass-Roots
Posted by CN Staff on April 19, 2008 at 05:39:36 PT
By Jason George, Tribune Reporter
Source: Chicago Tribune
Illinois -- "420." Know what that means? If so, you're probably grinning (or fretting) about now. If not, you just might be showing your age.Sunday marks the annual "420" holiday, when stoners around the world will gather to celebrate, and smoke, marijuana—an illegal tradition you won't find on any official calendar.
For decades, this counterculture tradition of getting high on April 20—4/20—was mostly confined to dorm rooms, hippie hide-outs and the basement of that neighbor of yours who watched cartoons all day.No longer, though, as 420 now is going commercial. This year, the release of three documentaries, a Web-broadcast television show, concerts and stand-up comedy events have been timed to occur around April 20. The feature film "Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay," which opens nationwide this week, has a marketing campaign that includes "420 parties" over the weekend in several cities, including Chicago.In fact, 420 has gotten so big that some purists fear the commercialization glosses over "the reason for the season."But, first, some background on how it all started.The origins of 420—pronounced "four-twenty"—go back to 1971, when a group of students at a California high school employed the code phrase "420 Louis" to indicate that they would meet, and get high, at 4:20 p.m., in front of a local Louis Pasteur statue, said Steven Hager, editor in chief of High Times magazine. Over the next 20 years the ritual of smoking pot at that time, and later, on the date of 4/20, spread virally, a "grass-roots phenomenon," according to Hager.In recent years, authorities have also begun to take notice of the observance. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy now alerts parents and educators with a fact sheet titled "4-20—Did You Know That This Is More Than Just a Date?"These days, 420 signals much more than a day or a holiday and is a slogan for the pro-pot lifestyle. "420?" as a question can mean "Would you like to smoke?" or "Is it cool if I smoke?"Those three numerals also emblazon T-shirts, bumper stickers and beer. Google "420" and "marijuana" and you'll get nearly 400,000 hits, including "420-friendly" dating sites, stores selling smoking pipes and even an ironically named drug test. "Anyone wanting to make and sell a 420-related product tends to add the number 420 anywhere they can," said Rob Griffin, webmaster of the online 420 Magazine.This year, NORML, the oldest and largest marijuana legalization organization in the country, plans to use the day for a fundraising drive, something it started in 2007."Beyond the fact that many commercial entities have now latched onto it, NORML is definitely, totally taking advantage of this fantastic organic holiday," said Allen St. Pierre, the group's executive director.In Chicago several clubs are planning events, often advertising alongside celebrations for Earth Day, which is Tuesday. It's just one association with 420, part of a drive by some adherents to make the day about more than just getting stoned."We need peace in the drug war, and this should be the central focus of 420, in my opinion," said Hager, the High Times editor. One 39-year-old Chicago professional, who did not want his named used for obvious reasons, said he's all set to host his fourth annual 420 party."We serve pizza rolls, Lit'l Smokies, all kinds of candy bars—the munchies food I guess you'd expect," he said."We're all in our 30s—a mix of people, although everybody is in some kind of white-collar job, and we all enjoy an occasional smoke."What does 420 mean to him?"Nothing really special, I guess. It's an easy excuse," he said."What else are you going to do?"Note: Marijuana culture isn't so counter anymore, as a once-hidden holiday goes commercial.Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)Author: Jason George, Tribune ReporterPublished: April 20, 2008Copyright: 2008 Chicago Tribune CompanyContact: ctc-TribLetter Tribune.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on April 19, 2008 at 14:30:52 PT
LAT: Doug Benson's Task Gives Him Such a High
The comedian used to joke about a movie he had in mind. He was taken seriously. Now he's 'Super High Me.'By Michael Shaw, Special To The Times April 20, 2008 Whether or not he's ready, Doug Benson will soon be the poster boy for pot. The self-anointed guinea pig in the new film "Super High Me," which documents his life on and off marijuana, Benson endures 30 days of sobriety, followed by 30 days of pot "all day, every day." The film's genesis was a joke in Benson's stand-up act: "If eating McDonald's for 30 days is a movie, and people are willing to pay to see it, I've got a movie. I'm going to smoke pot every day for 30 days . . . try to remember to film it . . . and my movie's going to be called 'Super High Me' (pause) or 'Business as Usual,' I haven't decided yet." He was only half-kidding. As a heavy pot smoker, Benson had actually pitched going pot-free for 30 days to "Super Size Me's" Morgan Spurlock when his FX show "30 Days" was being launched. Though Spurlock seemed interested, Benson never heard from him again. But he soon bumped into filmmaker friend Michael Blieden, who was enthusiastic about turning the joke into a film. More serendipitously, Blieden, who had directed the documentary "The Comedians of Comedy," then ran into producer Alex Campbell, who had just been researching medical marijuana dispensaries in California, and found the material ripe for a film. "I heard the joke and immediately knew it could be a film if Doug was willing to go through with the experiment," Campbell said.Complete Article:,1,7613826.story
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