The Significance of 4/20 – A Holiday to be Celebrated?

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The Significance of 4/20 – A Holiday to be Celebrated?

What is 4/20 about? With roots that can be dated back to the 1930s, April 20th or 4/20 has become a holiday that marijuana enthusiasts look forward to celebrating. In the 1970s 4/20 was part of a counter-culture movement, but today with the legalization of marijuana in many states across the United States, it has shifted to a marketing ploy to push more use and loosening of regulations. The marijuana lobby has continuously made claims that marijuana is not harmful, and the illegality of marijuana has negatively impacted people of color. Beware of the smoke screen. Companies invested in the legalization of marijuana have taken the playbooks of big alcohol and tobacco, largely ignoring the health risks, while raking in the profits.

Some History about Marijuana

First, it’s important to recognize the difference between the marijuana of the 1960s and 70s with today’s marijuana. THC is the chemical in marijuana that is responsible for getting the user high. Typically, the THC levels of marijuana in the “old days” hovered around 5%. Over the years the manufacturers of marijuana learned how to manipulate strains, and the THC levels have increased significantly. Currently, legal marijuana is consumed in various forms with THC levels over 90%! To put this in context, this would be comparable to someone drinking a single 20 oz bottle of cola for a caffeine fix, vs someone drinking 33 cappuccinos in a day! (Source: Smart Approaches to Marijuana Impact Report 2020-2021 edition).

Marijuana is Dangerous

To say that this comes without dangers is preposterous, and preys on innocent people by claiming that it is harmless. It is virtually impossible to make a rational conclusion that encouraging frequent use of a drug which is far more potent than it used to be and gives users more of high could be without danger. To believe this you might have to be high. Some even claim that marijuana and pregnancy are good partners to relieve nausea and that using marijuana during pregnancy does not negatively impact the health of an unborn child.

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The Illicit Market for Marijuana

The legalization of marijuana gives the public the impression that it is safe, especially with the push to join the “celebration” on 4/20. However, the illegal market for pot sales is thriving in the wake of legalization. Since these products are not regulated, they come with the added, significant danger of marijuana being tainted with all kinds of substances, including Fentanyl, which could be deadly. Keep in mind that once a user is exposed to Fentanyl, they can quickly become addicted to it, and may give up marijuana use altogether for a more powerful high. Legalization of marijuana opens up a new market to our youth, for whom marijuana can have devastating effects on their developing brains. With edibles and products that can be vaped, it will likely become easier to mask a high from parents, and puts kids in danger of an addiction going unnoticed for longer.

Marijuana and Driving Impaired

Legalization yields increased users. With the increased potency of THC, along with more frequent use comes significantly increased risk on the roads. You may wonder, does marijuana impair driving like alcohol? The data shows that in states that have mature legalization laws, the percentage of people getting pulled over for driving high has increased dramatically.  In the state of Washington, fatal crashes for those under the influence of marijuana have more than doubled since legalization. As marijuana stays in your system longer than substances like alcohol, it likely impacts cognitive and motor skills long after use.  For those who choose to “celebrate” on 4/20 by using marijuana, we could see the impact on our roads and highways not just on 4/20, but also on 4/21, 4/22, and beyond.

How Marketing Marijuana Effects Teens?

4/20 is now billed as a holiday to be celebrated, much like St. Patrick’s Day is associated with alcohol. Teen use of marijuana is up across the country. The developing brain is not a good and healthy mix with marijuana. Numerous studies have shown that marijuana use can: negatively impact teens cognitive functioning; be a catalyst in triggering mental health issues that might not otherwise arise; and its more powerful THC components are linked to increased addictive potential. New methods of consuming marijuana like vaping and edibles can mask use from parents, who may find out about the consequences of use far too late.

Marijuana Edibles

Some may choose to celebrate 4/20 by ingesting marijuana edibles, thinking this might be safter than smoking. However, we have witnessed over a 1300% increase in children being taken to the emergency room for poisoning from marijuana over the last few years. This is largely a result of adults using edibles that look like cookies, brownies or gummies that are not secured, and young children consuming marijuana without the knowledge of the adult. The combination of edibles with high concentrations of THC poses high risks for both children and adults. The high from eating edibles is often delayed, therefore if you consume a marijuana gummy and do not experience the anticipated high, you may be more likely to consume more. This has resulted in increased emergency room visits for both children and adults.


The concept of 4/20 has changed over the years from a day set aside to recognize the rebellion of a counter-culture movement against the establishment, to a day of national celebration for people to get high using a potent drug that can have long-term negative impacts. Instead of celebrating the use of dangerous, mind-altering substances on 4/20, check out Sober at Home. We offer a new approach to help those struggling with substance abuse. Our online format is designed to provide services to those in need with a flexible schedule that offers group therapy with professional addiction specialists from 6:30 am to midnight, 7 days a week. Sign up for a free question and answer session with our founder, David Gerber, to learn more about the dangers of using substances like marijuana, and how we can help. You can also attend one free Encouragement Group with David, to get an idea of how we want to help and encourage those struggling to take back control of their lives and prosper!

The Significance of 4/20 – A Holiday to be Celebrated?