What 420 means, origin story
In 1971, five high school students in San Rafael, California, used the term in connection with a plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop, based on a treasure map made by the grower (sounds like a movie waiting to happen). The group called themselves The Waldos, met after school at 4:20 PM, and were later popularised by High Times magazine. Now 420, 4/20 or 4:20 (pronounced four-twenty) is used as a general slang or codeword for smoking cannabis, and also represents April 20, an annual occasion for cannabis activities, including pro-legalization marches where it is still illegal.
Time for change, now more than ever
The problems faced by the entire world now are numerous: coronavirus, climate change, surveillance capitalism, neoliberalism, growing inequality, and an unprecedented economic collapse with no end – or solution – in sight.
But people are beginning to see behind the wizard’s curtain and there is the tantalising possibility that we will emerge from the pandemic into a fundamentally new, better and fairer world. One element of a better world, and one which we must promote on 420, and every day, is for the global legalization of hemp and cannabis.
I, Gary J Byrnes, founder of Readathriller.com, now call for the legalization of hemp and cannabis in Ireland, in the European Union, and worldwide, through the United Nations.Gary J Byrnes, 20 April, 2020.
Benefits of legalizing hemp and cannabis in Ireland, the EU, and worldwide
420 for a fairer justice system
Disproportionate numbers of ethnic minorities are imprisoned for minor cannabis offences. Legalization will result in fewer imprisonments worldwide, and a fairer justice system. And all cannabis possession criminal records must be expunged, as is happening in socially progressive US states.
A solution to climate change
Industrial hemp absorbs 10 tons of CO2 per acre, making it the most effective carbon offset crop. Sustainable hemp products also displace oil products, from gasoline to plastic. Because hemp and cannabis are genetically the same plant, but have been bred by humans for different purposes, only full legalization of the entire plant family can allow hemp to deliver its full potential in solving our climate crisis.
Relieving human suffering
Medical cannabis is now being used to relieve suffering in many countries across the world. Other cannabinoids (the numerous chemical compounds found in hemp and cannabis) have shown potential for fighting antibiotic-resistant infections such as MRSA. Without full legalization, there will always be unnecessary risk and fear in researching the potentially life-saving properties of this plant.
Countering racists and greedy industrialists
Hemp and cannabis were criminalized by the US in the 1930s, as a means of crushing black and Hispanic cultures (see Reefer Madness), and also to allow synthetic materials take over the markets for rope and textiles that had been served by hemp. We now have hugely disproportionate numbers of black and Hispanic Americans in prison, often for minor cannabis offences. We need to fix that. And we also need to fix the fact that Saudi Arabia and Russia have grown rich because the plant that could stop oil was criminalized. US President Trump legalized industrial hemp in the US in late 2018, and that is a significant start. But we need to finish the job, in the US, in the EU, and across the world.
So what if somebody prefers a joint to alcohol?
Many US states and countries have legalized recreational cannabis. Simply put, many people prefer cannabis to alcohol. Cannabis has never killed anybody from over-consumption, and it also does not lead people to commit acts of violence. Since cannabis has been legalized. the sky did not fall in, rates of hard drug use (e.g. heroin) have fallen, drug use by minors has fallen, and tax revenues have been raised while criminal drug gang revenues have been wiped out. It’s time the world grew up, frankly.
420 is your opportunity to stand up and be a hero
Hemp and cannabis can help build the new world that’s being created now. Will you stand up for a plant that can make a real difference to the world?
Wikipedia on the recently-discovered human endocannabinoid system: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endocannabinoid_system
Wikipedia on 420: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/420_(cannabis_culture)
Wikipedia on the crazy, true story of Reefer Madness: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reefer_Madness
Wikipedia on prison incarceration and ethnicity in the US: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_in_the_United_States#Ethnicity
Good to know
Which country code is 420? 420 is the international dial-code for the Czech Republic.
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