MedicateOH gives thanks to the Columbus Free Press and Mary Jane Borden for allowing us to reprint her cannabis articles to reach a wider audience.

Selected bites of fresh cannabis news sliced from the headlines, with a legislative flavor and sweet Ohio twist. Sources are linked.

The famed cannaholiday is upon us again. Will 2022 bring back normalcy, recalling that the pandemic curtailed most activities in 2020 and 2021? Here are a few elucidations, events, and entertaining diversions for your holiday high!

And don’t forget Ohio Lobby Day at the Ohio Statehouse on 4/20. Find out more on Facebook Events here.

  • Godfathers of 420: the Waldos! In 1971, five students at San Rafael High School in California coined the term “420” to connote a “Waldo Safari” search for a cannabis crop near the Point Reyes Peninsula. Naming themselves for their “wall outside the school” hangout,  the five students (Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich) designated the Louis Pasteur statue on school grounds as their meeting place and 4:20 pm as their meeting time. The Waldos initially called the plan “4:20 Louis,” but eventually shortened it to “420”. The term then became a code for getting high unbeknownst to teachers and parents. Today, 420 has become ubiquitous as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands who will attend global events held in its honor, this year on Wednesday, 4/20/2022 at 4:20 (am and pm). Read more about the Waldos here and their Oxford English Dictionary accounting of 420 history here. Documented proof that they invented the term can be found here.
  • Alternative Facts? Well, supposedly, the Waldos didn’t coin “420.” According to this 2010 account from 420Magazine, the term originated from Brad Bann (aka “The Bebe), leader of a group called “The Bebes.” Like the Waldos, they attended San Rafael High School in California during the same time frame. In 2003, High Times Magazine received a letter from Bebe member “Bone Boy” which claimed that 420 began during a bong session on a Saturday in 1970 when Bebe looked at the clock and proclaimed, “It’s 4:20, time for bong loads.” This devolved into, “Do you have any 4-twone?”, or “Who’s got the 4-twone?”, or “This is excellent 4-twone,” and “I’m too 4-twentyed!” In sum quoting the letter, “420 became an instant code in our neighborhood. We gravitated to any and all Bebe terminology … 420 seemed to just roll off the tongue better than any other number.”
  • First 420 Event. Legendary cannabis activist Debby Goldsberry penned a 2018 retrospective for Freedom Leaf about the very first 420 events beginning in 1990. Her first recollection was a hippie circulating fliers that “had a scrawny marijuana leaf drawn next to ‘420’ and ‘Wake’n’Bake,’ surrounding a proclamation asking everyone to ‘Smoke Pot at 4:20.’” Which her group, the Cannabis Action Network (CAN), would do “each day at 4:20, in whatever time zone we were in.” CAN went on to hold annual 420 events through 2001. Check out this iconic photo of Debby with canna-legends Ed Rosenthal and Steve Bloom.
  • 420 Goes Global.  In the early 1970s, the Grateful Dead relocated to San Rafael, and on occasion, a few Waldos and Dead band members hung out together. As a result, “420” pollinated globally among the Deadhead subculture. A “Wake & Bake” flier urging people to “Smoke Pot at 420” was handed out in a parking lot after a Dead show in the Oakland Coliseum. It landed in the hands of High Times Editor Steve Bloom who first reported on the term “420” and its meaning in the magazine’s May 1991 issue.
  • Other 420 origins. From the History Channel:  “Some believe [420 is] the number of active chemicals in marijuana, others that it’s based on teatime in Holland. Some reference the birthday of Adolf Hitler (April 20, 1889), and others Bob Dylan’s legendary ‘Everybody must get stoned’ refrain from his hit ‘Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35’ (12 multiplied by 35 does equal 420).” And, “‘420’ has also been referenced in classic movies like ‘Pulp Fiction,’ where some of the clocks are set to the time 4:20, and on national TV when a contestant on the ‘Price Is Right’ only bid numbers involving 420 ($420, $1,420). Even the 1990s Nickelodeon cartoon ‘Rocko’s Modern Life’ featured a clock reading 4:20.” Another origin from Vox, “… the 1939 short story “In the Walls of Eryx” by H.P. Lovecraft and Kenneth Sterling. The story describes ‘curious mirage-plants’ that seemed fairly similar to marijuana and appeared to get the narrator high at, according to his watch, around 4:20. Since the story is from 1939, it’s perhaps the earliest written link between marijuana and 420.”
  • Family Guy Episode 420.  The 12th episode in the seventh season of the animated television series Family Guy is aptly titled “420”. After Brian the dog is arrested for drug possession, he launches a campaign to legalize marijuana. A law is passed, the town improves, and crime decreases. But unfortunately, prohibition and its ills reemerge. Watch the episode here.
  • Born on 420. These lucky individuals count 4/20 as their birthday. They include: George Takai (actor – StarTrek), Carmen Elektra (actor/model), John Paul Stevens (Supreme Court Justice), Harold Lloyd (1920s comedian), Clint Howard (actor), Killer Mike (rapper), Jessica Lange (actor), Stephen Marley (reggae singer, son of Bob Marley), Steve Spurrier (former NFL quarterback), Luther Vandross (singer), and of course, Bill Schmitt, Jr. (Ohio cannabis activist extraordinaire). 
  • 420 Events. Check out:  Eventbrite and Celebstoner and PotGuide.com and WeedMaps.
  • Ohio Cannabis Lobby Day 2022.  A day of support for cannabis reform in Ohio. Sponsored by the Sensible Movement Coalition and NORML Appalachia Ohio. Wednesday, April 20, 2022 – 9am to 3pm at the Ohio Statehousein downtown Columbus. Event includes meetings with legislators andspeakers on topics like pending legislation, social equity, criminal justice reform, harm reduction and more. Sponsor tables for local businesses and organizations are available. Networking opportunities including door prizes  and a social mixer afterward. Volunteer sign-up here. Order a t-shirt here.

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On 420, Earth Day and every day, Plant Peace & Love

Among the 420 and Earth Day celebrations, it is important to reflect on the world as its stands in 2022, particularly in Ukraine. Prior to the Russian invasion, the country was on its way toward legalizing medical cannabis. It had also once been the one of the world’s largest producers of hemp. Now, Ukraine is being blown to bits. During American’s Vietnam War in the late 1960s, cannabis came of age hand in hand with one of the largest peace movements in history. Below are three songs, all released  50 years ago in 1971. Their lyrics resonated then, and still find relevance today. The recordings are by an international consortium of famous musicians organized by the nonprofit “Playing for Change.”  May they Plant Peace and Love.

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Peace Train” by Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens)

Now I’ve been crying lately,
Thinkin’ about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating,
Why can’t we live in bliss

‘Cause out on the edge of darkness,
There rides a Peace Train
Oh Peace Train take this country,
Come take me home again

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What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye

Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, yeah

Father, father
We don’t need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate

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Imagine” by John Lennon

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

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Author

  • Mary Jane Borden is an author, artist, activist and cannabis advocate from Westerville, Ohio. During her 40-year career in drug policy, she has co-founded seven cannabis-oriented groups, co-authored four proposed constitutional amendments, lobbied for six medical marijuana bills and given hundreds of media interviews. Her artwork can be viewed at CannabinArt.com and she can be reached at maryjaneborden@gmail.com.