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3 reasons 4/20 is still an important holiday

3 reasons 4/20 is still an important holiday

best things to do on 4/20

From the outside, 4/20 might just seem like a special day for stoners to get especially stoned. In a way they aren’t wrong.

4/20 has become a national holiday for cannabis lovers across the world. It is a day when we can all come together as a community to share our passion for the plant.

And yes, it is a day where you can score some great deals at the dispensary to get a little extra baked!

However 4/20 still holds a lot more importance than you may think. While the day may have supposedly started from some friends sneaking out to get high together, it has evolved into the main holiday promoting the cannabis legalization movement.

You see, cannabis is only fully legal in 18 states in the US. While there are only two states — Nebraska and Kansas — that haven’t legalized anything at all (including CBD), cannabis is still fully illegal according to the federal government.

That brings us to five reasons why 4/20 is still an important and essential holiday. Not just to those who love cannabis, but for anybody who supports breaking down unjust laws that punish minorities and create more problems for the country as a whole.

Cannabis is not federally legal

It might be easy to look at the expressive nature of the cannabis industry and community and think, “how could this be illegal?”

After all people like Snoop Dogg can openly smoke a blunt on live TV at the Super Bowl and face no repercussions. But for many others, the reality is much, much different. In fact, 40% of drug-related arrests in 2018 were for cannabis.

Consider the resources that are still going into arresting people for a plant that is medically or recreationally legal in over half the country. Does that make sense?

Additionally in New York City, 94% of cannabis arrests were black people in 2020.

4/20 has been the main day where proponents for legalization can really get their message heard and inform people on why legalization really matters.

Sharing the benefits of the plant

According to the federal government, cannabis is currently ranked as dangerous as heroin, an a Schedule 1 controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. This means it has no medical applications and is highly addictive.

Well, 35 states that have legal medical cannabis programs would disagree. There have been studies showing recreational cannabis access decreases the demand for prescription opioids. Other studies have shown it to be extremely effective in treating various diseases, including cancer.

Lest we forget the wide range of ailments that cannabis is legally prescribed for by licensed doctors across the country. That sounds like a lot of medical applications, but you would be surprised how many people haven’t heard about those studies or the benefits of cannabis.

When you are a part of the cannabis community it is easy to think that everybody knows these things. After all you see articles and posts on social media all the time about new laws, legalization, medical studies. But that is a bubble. In most cases, if you aren’t actively looking for cannabis news or information, it isn’t very likely to pop up unless it is a major story.

On 4/20, there is just that little bit more attention the entire community and industry gets to share this information with a wider audience. While many may still not support the full legalization of cannabis, helping them to understand how much it truly helps people is an important step in the right direction.

4/20 is a celebration of culture

It is not very often that there is a community of millions of people, all passionate about the same thing which happens to be completely illegal according to the federal government. Think about it.

As a culture that developed in the shadows over decades, the cannabis community is different from any other. A group of people who were traditionally artists, musicians and hippies has spread to encompass every type of person out there. From your grandma to wall street businessmen and women, somebody you know is likely a consumer.

The culture has begun evolving over the years from the small, close-knit community of growers in online forums to massive festivals headlined by A-list artists. And it has become even more accessible to someone who is trying to learn more about cannabis and the community surrounding it.

What better way to dip your feet into the culture of cannabis than going to your local 4/20 festival or event? And if it’s an underground event in a illegal state, even better. Because that’s where it all started, and has stayed for many across the country still.

Because its FUN

Consider this one an honorable mention. 4/20 is basically the only holiday for cannabis lovers (some would argue 7/10 is growing in popularity now as well). While spreading awareness about the war on drugs and pushing for legalization are important aspects of 4/20 celebrations, it’s also about just that; celebrating!

The fact that you can go to Civic Center Park in Denver, Colorado on 4/20 and consume cannabis publicly with thousands of others without persecution is a big deal. The fact that there will be hundreds of public 4/20 celebrations across the country today is huge. Just 10 years ago, almost none of it would be happening…at least in public.

Some people miss the old days where the community was smaller and more close-knit, with underground celebrations where you had to be “in the know” to go. Well, you can still find plenty of those across the country too. Because as big of a day as 4/20 is, and the difference it can make, it’s important to remember that millions of people are still at risk of arrest and prison time to simply possessing a plant.

Virginia recreational cannabis could be going up in smoke

Virginia recreational cannabis could be going up in smoke

Virginia recreational cannabis dispensaries

When Glen Youngkin was elected Governor of Virginia after a heated race in 2021, many cannabis advocates began to question the future of Virginia recreational cannabis. Despite legalizing cannabis for recreational use earlier in the year, the state has yet to get the industry rolling in any real way.

It isn’t uncommon for a state to take more than a year or two to establish their regulatory framework and begin adult-use sales. However in Virginia’s case, cannabis was legalized by a Democrat governor, who was soon replaced by a Republican.

Youngkin holds a different view on cannabis compared to his predecessor, and now those views have begun impacting the future prospects of a recreational cannabis industry in Virginia.

On April 7, 2021, Virginia became the first state in the South to begin the process of legalizing adult-use cannabis. HB2312 (Herring) and SB1406 (Ebbin; Lucas), introduced by Governor Northam and passed by the 2021 General Assembly, lay out a three year process to legalize cannabis and create a regulatory framework for the sale of the product.

However while a recent General Assembly session saw lawmakers increase accessibility for medical cannabis patients, it failed to expedite Virginia recreational cannabis sales, and added new penalties for cannabis possession. So what happened?

The original bill as previously mentioned included a three-year timeline to implement regulations and framework for a recreational cannabis industry. The latest General Assembly session was voting on whether to shorten this timeframe, which would have expedited retail cannabis sales to this September.

However with the latest amendments to the original bills, it is unlikely that a Virginia recreational cannabis industry will be open by the original 2024 deadline.

Lobbyists influenced Virginia legislators into believing that it is safer for several large corporations to produce the products rather than having hundreds of small batch operations, according to Happy Trees co-founder Josiah Ickes. Happy Trees is a garden store supplying cannabis growers in the state.

“We have all these small breweries in Richmond,” Ickes said. “It would be kinda like if we said: ‘Oh, well look at all these small breweries, they need to go away because we don’t know if they’re creating safe beer.’”

Virginians will still be able to possess up to two ounces of cannabis flower for personal use without penalty. For comparison, in Colorado where cannabis has been legal since 2012, consumers are only allowed one ounce in their possession at a time.

Those who aren’t waiting for a legal cannabis industry to open up also have the option to grow their own cannabis. With the current framework and delay of a recreational industry, it is likely that a gift/donation industry will begin to develop in Virginia.

Coincidentally Virginia borders Washington, D.C., where cannabis is also legal but has no established industry. DC now has a thriving gift/donation industry where consumers will donate a certain amount in exchange for a gift (in the form of cannabis), creating a loophole where technically there isn’t a “sale” of cannabis happening.

There have been plenty of efforts to shut down this grey area industry, but efforts thus far have failed. With a successful market right next door, Virginians are likely to replicate these practices so people can still buy and sell their cannabis without technically breaking the law.

One of the positives to come out of the latest General Assembly meeting was regarding medical cannabis patients and their access to the products they need. Governor Youngkin recently signed new legislation which eliminated the requirement to register with the state Board of Pharmacy before being approved to purchase medical cannabis products.

Would be Virginia medical cannabis patients already have to get a referral from a medical provider in order to get access to cannabis. The latest amendment would appear to be simply removing an unnecessary step for patients.

When lawmakers originally approved the sale of low-concentration THC oil for medical patients in 2019, the Board of Pharmacy issued just 1,377 medical cannabis cards. That number grew to 7,135 in 2020, and ballooned to over 33,000 in 2021. The Board has issued over 10,000 cards from January to April 2022 already.

Brandy, a resident of Richmond, VA began smoking cannabis at age 15. Now 37, she grows plants in her home. Citizens can grow up to four plants legally per household.

Brandy has a state-approved prescription for cannabis to treat anxiety and bipolar disorder, but said she prefers growing cannabis as opposed to going to a dispensary, because it’s cheaper. Health insurance does not cover medical cannabis.

“In Virginia, it really sucks,” Brandy said. “You go in and they have the little half gram carts, and it’s $65.”

With a retail market still not established, Brandy said she prefers growing her own supply versus buying illegally from a dealer.

“This way I know exactly what goes in it,” Brandy said. “It’s all organic product, there isn’t chemicals in it.”

Currently there are only four state-licensed medical cannabis companies that can provide cannabis to patients in five health districts across Virginia. There are still several health districts that don’t have a single dispensary, making patients have to travel long distances to get their medicine.

Limited access, expensive pricing and the lack of a legal industry has put Virginia on a path that is leaving many unsure of the future of Virginia recreational cannabis. One can safely assume that there won’t a regulated, adult-use cannabis industry in the state until at least 2024.

However one can also expect to start seeing some semblance of an underground, grey market cannabis industry develop as consumers find ways to sell and purchase recreational cannabis without breaking the specific rules of the law.