4/20 Exclusive: Legal Cannabis on Wall Street

On a bright and unseasonably warm April 20, 2021 in New York City, you could stand in a blocks-long line and wait for a free joint in Union Square as police watched and did nothing. Or you could dip into a particular rathskeller on Broad Street in the Financial District, within throwing distance of the New York Stock Exchange. Underground, Vladimir Bautista and Ramon Reyes were working the room at their “coming back” party. If nearby, you likely caught a whiff of what they believe the next 4/20, and every other day in the not-so-distant future, will look like in a post-legalization New York.

Two friends from Uptown with Dominican roots who love weed, Bautista and Reyes had a conversion after Reyes visited Amsterdam and its cannabis coffee shops. Already “involved” with cannabis in that familiar gray-area kind of way, they decided to open up an Amsterdam-style coffee shop in New York. But there was a slight problem: this was before March 31, 2021, so cannabis was illegal. 

Undaunted, in 2017 the pair launched Happy Munkey, which for tax purposes is a New York City cannabis-inspired lifestyle brand and registered state LLC. For practical purposes, Happy Munkey was one of New York City’s pre-legalization marijuana speakeasies.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Happy Munkey (@happymunkeygoodies)

Happy Munkey was essentially an Amsterdam-style cannabis coffee shop, located a short walk from Times Square and the new luxury high-rise apartments at Hudson Yards. To get in, you had to know somebody, or you had to know Happy Munkey existed—which, given the gift of Instagram, wasn’t particularly challenging. 

However, an inevitable visit from the police followed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic six months later put Happy Munkey’s cannabis pursuits on pause. In the interim, Happy Munkey endured. Bautista and Reyes sold t-shirts, ashtrays, grinders and rolling trays. They hired a publicist and started a magazine (and they may or may not have entered the delivery service game). 

They also participated in the lobbying blitz that preceded Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers in Albany passing the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. And almost exactly three weeks after Cuomo signed the bill making public cannabis use absolutely legal in the country’s largest city, the duo threw Tuesday’s 4/20 party in the basement of an old restaurant, just steps away from the physical centers of global capital: Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. 

For the first legal 4/20 in New York City, the setting was fitting. Federal prohibition means cannabis companies still can’t list on American exchanges, but as the world’s most popular illicit drug becomes a legal commodity, there’s certainly an avalanche of investment coming. The trick is to stay involved.  

Staking A Claim 

It will be at least a year before New York state licenses anyone to grow, process or sell cannabis, but there is no time to waste. One of the harsh lessons of marijuana legalization from the 14 states that legalized before New York, is that being “first”—or getting in “before” the thing is legal—in no way guarantees a stake in the legal game. 

On Tuesday, Happy Munkey sent a strong statement with a dual purpose of announcing their “come back” while also staking a claim. In New York, the pre-legalization pioneers will absolutely participate in the post-legalization industry—in some way or another. Just try to stop them. 

But in the meantime, there was the still-surreal sight of a cannabis party, ongoing while people openly smoked cannabis in the street, as bored police stood idly by up the block. 

“It’s a historic day, it’s a historic location,” a besuited Bautista said Tuesday, as a steady line of partygoers shuffled into the basement-level space, still equipped with an imposing vault door from its days used as a waystation for cash and hard specie a century ago. 

Eugenio Garcia (Publisher of Cannabis Now), Vladimir Bautista (Happy Munkey), David Hess (Tress Capital) at Bobby Van’s in NYC on April 20, 2021.

A gregarious man with a smooth head, neatly trimmed beard and enormous smile, Bautista wore a blue suit over a luxe v-neck. Full of kinetic energy, he bounced around the room on loafers, pulling away from one hug and handshake to embrace another. Hosting a 4/20 party in the heart of American capitalism wasn’t an intentional move—they could have rented a bigger place, someplace else in New York—but “it all fit together,” Bautista explained. And as metaphor, it was spot on. 

“This is what the future is going to be,” Bautista declared. Meaning: legal weed in New York City with brown guys from Uptown deeply involved.

Happy Munkey charged $100 a head, a cover that earned you a poker chip you could exchange for $100 (or more, if you reached back into your wallet) of cannabis flower, edibles, pre-rolls or cartridges at a dispensary table set up in the former restaurant’s old wine room. At the bar, you could order a $25 cocktail infused with 5 milligrams of THC. Past the vault door were the VIP tables, where you could enjoy bottle service for $5,000, as well as a gift-basket’s worth of cannabis treats: branded flower in California-familiar bags, powerful edibles and vaporizer cartridges, to name a few. Since New York’s new legalization law allows one to be “gifted” cannabis, and since guests were paying money simply to be there, the arrangement was technically legal.

In case it wasn’t obvious Happy Munkey had graduated from underground status, floating around the room, rubbing elbows with the mix of investors, entrepreneurs, brand ambassadors, influencers and terpene-scented hangers-on that appear at cannabis fetes the world over, were members of Gov. Cuomo’s staff from Albany. “I know,” Bautista grinned, all brash charm. “I invited them.”

The party’s dress code included masks, which Happy Munkey politely requested guests to wear “when not consuming.” But within a few minutes of entering, noses appeared, masks hung from ears or slipped below chins. Like prohibition, the evil energy of the pandemic seemed to be finally clearing, too. And the next thing is on its way. 

World’s Biggest Market?

“It’s going to be California, times ten,” said Ruben Lindo. A former pro football player with an MBA from NYU, Lindo owns a CBD brand in New York and THC flower brands in two legal states—plus 36 acres of land in upstate New York, where he wants to start cultivating, he said. Lindo offered a version of the conventional wisdom regarding New York’s future as a marijuana marketplace, as well as the evening’s general consensus. “This is the biggest consumer market in the world,” he said. And while Happy Munkey grabbed a foothold by being bold and being early, stepping out is not standing out. “Winning” after legalization will take more.

And you do not come to Wall Street to simply be a name in the boroughs, or to have a one-night event on 4/20. You come here for it all. Bautista wants Happy Munkey to be a global chain of branded consumption lounges, with franchises in Barcelona, Los Angeles and Amsterdam. It’s a vision he has just enough time to outline before peeling away to hug someone else. It’s all happening. You can feel it. As big as open cannabis use in New York is, this is very much still just a beginning. 

The post 4/20 Exclusive: Legal Cannabis on Wall Street appeared first on Cannabis Now.

4/20 Exclusive: Legal Cannabis in New York City

On a bright and unseasonably warm April 20, 2021 in New York City, you could stand in a blocks-long line and wait for a free joint in Union Square as police watched and did nothing. Or you could dip into a particular rathskeller on Broad Street in the Financial District, within throwing distance of the New York Stock Exchange. Underground, Vladimir Bautista and Ramon Reyes were working the room at their “coming back” party. If nearby, you likely caught a whiff of what they believe the next 4/20, and every other day in the not-so-distant future, will look like in a post-legalization New York.

Two friends from Uptown with Dominican roots who love weed, Bautista and Reyes had a conversion after Reyes visited Amsterdam and its cannabis coffee shops. Already “involved” with cannabis in that familiar gray-area kind of way, they decided to open up an Amsterdam-style coffee shop in New York. But there was a slight problem: this was before March 31, 2021, so cannabis was illegal. 

Undaunted, in 2017 the pair launched Happy Munkey, which for tax purposes is a New York City cannabis-inspired lifestyle brand and registered state LLC. For practical purposes, Happy Munkey was one of New York City’s pre-legalization marijuana speakeasies.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Happy Munkey (@happymunkeygoodies)

Happy Munkey was essentially an Amsterdam-style cannabis coffee shop, located a short walk from Times Square and the new luxury high-rise apartments at Hudson Yards. To get in, you had to know somebody, or you had to know Happy Munkey existed—which, given the gift of Instagram, wasn’t particularly challenging. 

However, an inevitable visit from the police followed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic six months later put Happy Munkey’s cannabis pursuits on pause. In the interim, Happy Munkey endured. Bautista and Reyes sold t-shirts, ashtrays, grinders and rolling trays. They hired a publicist and started a magazine (and they may or may not have entered the delivery service game). 

They also participated in the lobbying blitz that preceded Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers in Albany passing the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. And almost exactly three weeks after Cuomo signed the bill making public cannabis use absolutely legal in the country’s largest city, the duo threw Tuesday’s 4/20 party in the basement of an old restaurant, just steps away from the physical centers of global capital: Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. 

For the first legal 4/20 in New York City, the setting was fitting. Federal prohibition means cannabis companies still can’t list on American exchanges, but as the world’s most popular illicit drug becomes a legal commodity, there’s certainly an avalanche of investment coming. The trick is to stay involved.  

Staking A Claim 

It will be at least a year before New York state licenses anyone to grow, process or sell cannabis, but there is no time to waste. One of the harsh lessons of marijuana legalization from the 14 states that legalized before New York, is that being “first”—or getting in “before” the thing is legal—in no way guarantees a stake in the legal game. 

On Tuesday, Happy Munkey sent a strong statement with a dual purpose of announcing their “come back” while also staking a claim. In New York, the pre-legalization pioneers will absolutely participate in the post-legalization industry—in some way or another. Just try to stop them. 

But in the meantime, there was the still-surreal sight of a cannabis party, ongoing while people openly smoked cannabis in the street, as bored police stood idly by up the block. 

“It’s a historic day, it’s a historic location,” a besuited Bautista said Tuesday, as a steady line of partygoers shuffled into the basement-level space, still equipped with an imposing vault door from its days used as a waystation for cash and hard specie a century ago. 

Eugenio Garcia (Publisher of Cannabis Now), Vladimir Bautista (Happy Munkey), David Hess (Tress Capital) at Bobby Van’s in NYC on April 20, 2021.

A gregarious man with a smooth head, neatly trimmed beard and enormous smile, Bautista wore a blue suit over a luxe v-neck. Full of kinetic energy, he bounced around the room on loafers, pulling away from one hug and handshake to embrace another. Hosting a 4/20 party in the heart of American capitalism wasn’t an intentional move—they could have rented a bigger place, someplace else in New York—but “it all fit together,” Bautista explained. And as metaphor, it was spot on. 

“This is what the future is going to be,” Bautista declared. Meaning: legal weed in New York City with brown guys from Uptown deeply involved.

Happy Munkey charged $100 a head, a cover that earned you a poker chip you could exchange for $100 (or more, if you reached back into your wallet) of cannabis flower, edibles, pre-rolls or cartridges at a dispensary table set up in the former restaurant’s old wine room. At the bar, you could order a $25 cocktail infused with 5 milligrams of THC. Past the vault door were the VIP tables, where you could enjoy bottle service for $5,000, as well as a gift-basket’s worth of cannabis treats: branded flower in California-familiar bags, powerful edibles and vaporizer cartridges, to name a few. Since New York’s new legalization law allows one to be “gifted” cannabis, and since guests were paying money simply to be there, the arrangement was technically legal.

In case it wasn’t obvious Happy Munkey had graduated from underground status, floating around the room, rubbing elbows with the mix of investors, entrepreneurs, brand ambassadors, influencers and terpene-scented hangers-on that appear at cannabis fetes the world over, were members of Gov. Cuomo’s staff from Albany. “I know,” Bautista grinned, all brash charm. “I invited them.”

The party’s dress code included masks, which Happy Munkey politely requested guests to wear “when not consuming.” But within a few minutes of entering, noses appeared, masks hung from ears or slipped below chins. Like prohibition, the evil energy of the pandemic seemed to be finally clearing, too. And the next thing is on its way. 

World’s Biggest Market?

“It’s going to be California, times ten,” said Ruben Lindo. A former pro football player with an MBA from NYU, Lindo owns a CBD brand in New York and THC flower brands in two legal states—plus 36 acres of land in upstate New York, where he wants to start cultivating, he said. Lindo offered a version of the conventional wisdom regarding New York’s future as a marijuana marketplace, as well as the evening’s general consensus. “This is the biggest consumer market in the world,” he said. And while Happy Munkey grabbed a foothold by being bold and being early, stepping out is not standing out. “Winning” after legalization will take more.

And you do not come to Wall Street to simply be a name in the boroughs, or to have a one-night event on 4/20. You come here for it all. Bautista wants Happy Munkey to be a global chain of branded consumption lounges, with franchises in Barcelona, Los Angeles and Amsterdam. It’s a vision he has just enough time to outline before peeling away to hug someone else. It’s all happening. You can feel it. As big as open cannabis use in New York is, this is very much still just a beginning. 

The post 4/20 Exclusive: Legal Cannabis in New York City appeared first on Cannabis Now.

The History of 420

Act One

You can trace a line from Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady to Ken Kesey and Ken Babbs to Steve and Dave, who entered San Rafael High School in the late’60s. They were rugged individualists uninspired by the social scene, which centered on athletics and the school’s top jocks, so they decided to create their own fun by embarking on a quest for adventure. The first of these was a visit to a Bay Area research lab developing the very first holographs. Soon, Jeff, Larry and Mark joined the safaris, as these adventures became known.

Every safari started with a sacramental hit of cannabis, followed by the cranking of the tunes, either in the 1966 4-door Chevy Impala with the killer Craig 8-track stereo system, in Steve’s room, or in one of a few other sacred spots they shared herb, as getting high was illegal and couldn’t be done in public or around parents. One of their favorite spots was underneath the statue of Louis Pasteur by Benny Bufano, which overlooked the school parking lot. Sacred hymns provided by New Riders of the Purple Sage, Allman Brothers, Poco, Commander Cody, Beatles, The Moonlighters were then employed to lift the vibration higher.

Waldos & Louie

This crew gravitated to a wall inside the courtyard of San Rafael High, where they’d meet before class and during lunch break to make withering comments about everything around them. This is where they obtained their name: The Waldos, as well as where they honed their savage wit. You couldn’t smoke pot around school unless it was a one-hitter and done extremely carefully, and even then you risked suspension and your parent’s wrath.

In the fall of 1971, Steve was given a treasure map to an abandoned patch of cannabis on Point Reyes that had been planted by a member of the Coast Guard too scared to return. He wanted some fellow stoners to have the patch and everybody at San Rafael knew the Waldos were frequent stoners.

“Surely, this is the ultimate safari,” Steve thought. “No more adventurous nor noble quest could be devised by the mind of man.”

The Waldos prophetically all agreed to meet at 4:20 p.m. at the Louis Pasteur Statue to get high and drive out to Point Reyes to search for the secret patch of weed. From then on, whenever the Waldos passed each other in the halls, they spontaneously erupted in a salute with the words, “Four Twenty Louie!” Little did they know how far this ritual would eventually travel, although “Louie” got lost along the way.

For the next 10 years, the Waldos went on the most amazing safaris and had the most magical adventures, although they sadly never found that patch. But they always sponsored a big pot party on April 20th, where a ceremonial toke would take place at 4:20 p.m. Eventually they started getting married, having families and picking up the sacred pipe less frequently. However, they kept up the safaris.

But as soon as the Waldos retired from staging 420 ceremonies, the younger classmen of San Rafael picked up on the magic of numerology and began using the code as a way to evade detection and some of them started a ritual of congregating on a ridge of Mount Tamalpias with a sunset view of the Pacific on April 20th in order to get high at exactly 4:20 p.m. as a way to honor the spirit of cannabis. This ritual started with only a few souls, but soon grew to dozens. And that’s when someone got the idea of making a flyer inviting stoners from all over the Bay Area to the ceremony. Nobody outside Marin even knew that 420 signified pot. But even those gathered at the top of Mt. Tam didn’t have any idea how the code had started. They thought it had something to do with the police.

Act Two

I’m often knee-deep before I realize what I stepped into, and that’s how it was with the Cannabis Cup. The idea came to me on the plane, while flying back from the Netherlands after interviewing the founder of the first marijuana seed company, Nevil Shoemakers. The night before, Dave Watson had regaled me with tales of California harvest festivals before CAMP helicopters forced that scene underground.

Soon, I was back in the Netherlands, organizing the first Cannabis Cup, with a photographer and grow expert. Three seed companies entered, and one of them didn’t even cure their entries but plucked them fresh off the vine.

But when I returned home after that first event, I couldn’t shake a feeling of responsibility. My event demanded a ceremonial framework respecting the true spirit of cannabis and its historical importance and influence. And that’s how I ended up buying a paperback version of the “Rigveda.”

Imagine my surprise when I came across the description of the primary sacrament shared during all ceremonies, a drink called Soma:

“The blind see, the lame walk… he clothes the naked. Soma is a sage and seer inspired by poetry …King of the healing plants.”

I knew Soma was supposed to be a mushroom, something accepted as gospel by the academic community, but in my heart, I instantly realized this had to be a description of cannabis. I also realized there had to be some incredible cover-up going on that dwarfed the cover-up Jack Herer was pushing about the industrial uses and environmental benefits of hemp.

I stepped out of my office to smoke a joint and reflect on these matters (something I had been doing in my office, but had recently departed, as I had moved to a former warehouse in the back of the building), something necessitated by a crackdown on smoking. But the crackdown had just been extended to the warehouse as well, so I sought refuge in the stairwell.

Steve Bloom, the recently appointed news editor of High Times was there, along with some hippie dude I didn’t know, and he proceeded to pull out a stash of whippets and he began inhaling them in rapid succession. Bloom asked when he was going to share, and he said, “Sorry, I only have my dose and nothing more.”

I fired my joint, while Bloom showed me a flyer he’d been handed while attending a recent Grateful Dead show in Oakland. “Check this out,” he said. “It’s really silly.”

I don’t have immense satori moments often, but I’d been time traveling through the Vedas for hours and still had a foot in distant past, so when I saw that crude flyer asking people to come to the sunset-view ridge of Mt. Tam at 4:20 p.m. on April 20th, it assumed Biblical proportions in my mind. I expressed these feelings instantly, because this was a sign and something that could be employed to give meaning to my Cannabis Cup ceremony and also help make marijuana legal. But for those not into numerology or the study of secret societies, this is just silliness with no meaning. Some people “got” 420 and employed the magic to enhance their cannabis experience and help legitimize pot in ceremony, while for others, it remained a joke and nothing more.

I told Bloom I intended to use the code as part of my effort to build a case for spiritual rights to use cannabis under the Constitution.

“This ceremony manifested spontaneously, and is evidence of the power of cannabis to create ceremony and culture,” I said. “We’re going to make this a big part of the Cannabis Cup and the Freedom Fighters.”

Later on, I was crushed to discover Bloom had run a joke item about the flyer and failed to mention my pledge to deploy the code. No matter, I was soon on the road going to hundreds of college campuses in a debate titled Heads versus Feds against the former head of the DEA in New York. And at every event, I asked the students to have a peace ceremony at 4:20 on April 20th. I also told them to be moderate in the use at such a young age, reminding them “the less you do, the higher you get.”

Certainly, Chef RA, Jack Herer, Rodger Belknap, Thom Harris, Linda Noel and Debby Goldsberry “got” 420. They were the shock troops in the hemp legalization movement, who helped me found the Freedom Fighters, the first national hemp legalization group. For many years we drove to rallies in a psychedelic bus (a new one each year as they were always breaking down). We hosted free campgrounds, with free kitchens, and published a free newsletter. Back then, the rallies were all held at precisely high noon, a trend that would continue for well over a decade. But the Freedom Fighters always held council at 4:20 p.m., passed a feather and plotted how to best legalize in our lifetime. Just as every year, one of the Freedom Fighters was selected by open council to attend the Cannabis Cup as a celebrity judge.

Goldsberry became the most dedicated member of that original crew and quickly broke off to create her own organization, CAN. The half dozen rallies we attended were not enough to keep her occupied, as she created her own tour that hit almost every college town in the Midwest, while we concentrated on Ann Arbor, Madison, Boston and the Rainbow Family Gatherings. At every stop along the road, she handed out free copies of the original 420 flyer.

Kenny Scharf was the first famous artist to design the official Cup art.

I hadn’t been to any Cups since the first one. But in 1993, I held the first 420 council at a Cannabis Cup. In truth, it was a clumsy ceremony, as no one but me had any idea what 420 represented, including Jack Herer. Some people will claim 420 was already widespread within the Grateful Dead community in the 1980s, but that is not true. It was known to teenagers who lived in Marin County in the later part of the decade.

The following year, however, at the 7th Cup, my 420 ceremony blossomed and became epic and stayed that way for the next 15 years or so. Most of the chiefs of cannabis you’ll find in Amsterdam today attended that first big 420 ceremony and spoke from their hearts. Eagle Bill was a major force elevating those ceremonies and it could not have happened like it did without him. I ran into Bill on my way to open the Pax Party House on opening day and noticed he carried a hand-carved staff. I asked if he would like to be the ceremonial high priest and use his staff in place of a feather. The impact of this request on Eagle Bill was profound. To say Eagle Bill “got” 420 would be a vast understatement, as he rapidly elevated to become the primary guiding spirit of the event.

I was arranging everything around the afternoon 420, but the crew got so devoted they began doing 420 a.m. ceremonies, and these rapidly became the most legendary parties at the Cup and everyone collected photos of themselves under the clock at exactly 4:20.

In 1995, Vancouver got credit for staging the first April 20th 420 ceremony outside Marin County. Marc Emery, Dana Rozek, Cindy Lassu and Ian Hunter had a hand in manifesting this event, although Emery was initially opposed to the concept. It continues today as the longest-running April 20th ceremony in North America. A few years later, Goldsberry staged the first major 420 event in the Bay Area in Golden Gate Park, although it turned into a one-off. However, the already established free 420 gathering on hippie hill continues to this day. The Mt. Tam sunset ridge ceremony was shut down in 1990.

Act Three

Even though High Times became the magazine success story of the ’90s and the Freedom Fighters spearheaded the return of the rallies, re-igniting the sleeping marijuana movement, success only seemed to bring problems for me, as I was soon forced to disband the Freedom Fighters and there were constant pressures to shut down the Cup as well, or at least remove my supervision. I moved home to concentrate on events and how to document them for posterity as I felt there was something important in these 420 ceremonies I was manifesting. At the time, I was primarily interested in building up WHEE! as the premiere cannabis event in North America.

I’d been trying for years to get Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters over to the Cannabis Cup, and had lured Mountain Girl when she was poor and adventurous, but at one point realized if I wanted to do a ceremony with Kesey, it was going to have to happen in his backyard, and that’s what happened. The first year (1997) we had over 300 vendors and 20,000 attendees.

Of course the Pranksters “got” 420 immediately, and the reason the code suddenly began skyrocketing through the Grateful Dead scene was threefold: first, Rainbow Family and Dead Family were basically the same thing and the Freedom Fighters and 420 had acquired a huge presence at Rainbow; second, Jack Herer and Chef RA “got” 420 and they became influential figures and spread the code; and three, and probably most important, the Pranksters “got” 420, and began actively pushing it. And Kesey was the most influential person in the Dead scene after Jerry Garcia.

One day, I got an email from Mike, the travel agent of the Cannabis Cup, who had been made the producer of the event with me directing the ceremonies. He forwarded a message from Bloom in San Francisco who claimed to have started 420 with his friends in 1971. The part that caught my attention was Bloom wasn’t seeking money, he just wanted 420Tours.com to know the real story. He was writing to the Cannabis Cup travel package website because Mike had put up a forum for posting 420 Cannabis Cup stories, and this website drew the attention of the Waldos, who had been following the spread of 420 across America with much mirth and amazement.

By 2002, headshops in the Bay Area were stuffed with 420 t-shirts, buttons, hats, posters, and various other memorabilia. The code has become a well-known secret inside cannabis culture and been written about in High Times and celebrated as the central ceremony in the Cannabis Cup and WHEE!, the two biggest and most influential cannabis-themed events at the time (if you don’t count Kumba Mela). Still, however, outside the Bay Area, the code remained an enigma, even to most stoners.

I ended up flying out to San Francisco and meeting the Waldos and holding epic ceremonies with them for days, all of which were captured on video, as were my 420 ceremonies with the Pranksters and the elders of the Rainbow Family. In fact, whenever I get together with Pranksters, Waldos or Rainbow Elders, the same magic improvisational energy always emerges, as well as an overwhelming desire to have fun. I never doubted the Waldos’ story, and read the truth in their hearts before I examined their documents. But the powers-that-be at High Times never trusted me, and the publisher spread the story I was suppressing competing tales on the origins of 420 because the Waldos were my friends, implying it all a massive hoodwink on my part. And that’s the way this story appears on Wikipedia today.

Heads versus Feds

I also began a college lecture tour in 1995, debating Curtis Sliwa for five years, and then the former head of the New York DEA for additional 14, and Heads versus Feds traveled to over 300 colleges and universities over 19 years and I end each debate with a plea for the creation of a local student-run legalization group and urge the students to hold annual events on April 20th and have local bands play to raise money for the chapter. That line about April 20th often gets a laugh from the audience, and about half the time, I’m able to get volunteers to start a sign-up sheet for a chapter of NORML for the first five years before I switched to advocating for SSDP. At many debates, the list of prospective members reaches several dozen before I depart the lecture hall, and some of these chapters actually get off the ground. Enough for SSDP to follow the tour remotely as it moves around the country, and that’s probably why Allen St. Pierre of NORML said recently: “Without Hager, I don’t think there’s any way that this interesting numerology that has crept deep into American culture and commerce would have happened.”

One of the earliest schools we traveled to for the Heads versus Feds debate was Boulder, Colorado, and that school soon started a 420 ceremony that got so big the University had to shut down the entire school on April 20th just to try and stop it. And I think that’s one reason why Denver got the center of energy of 420. Colorado was always the most vocally pro-pot state I visited.

420 as a Ritual

I’ve long supported the view 420 should be used to help ritualize and legitimize cannabis as a sacrament, which will also strengthen the case for religious use. I’m not in favor of students doing breakfast dabs and going off to take their calculus exam. I realize some get attracted to intoxication too early in life, and it holds them back, but on the other hand, I don’t believe anyone should go to jail, lose a student loan, or lose child custody over cannabis. So I suggest using 4:20 p.m. as a guide for an appropriate hour for the adult population to hold a cannabis ceremony, although this certainly doesn’t apply to those with a medical need. If you’re having a medical emergency, dabs away.

I’m hoping some who read this will “get” 420, and consider lifting the ceremony to a higher level, something more meaningful than just an excuse to get intoxicated. Only then will we be able to help forge a spiritual culture worthy of being handed down to future generations. If you want to treat this plant with respect, there is magic, but for some others who use it without wisdom or who become too attached too soon, it’s just an expensive habit. The other thing I’ve learned is that if you want to have a true counterculture ceremony, everyone must be invited, which means it has to be free and it can’t just be about getting high and nothing else.

Published with permission of the author.

The post The History of 420 appeared first on Cannabis Now.

5 low-key ways you can celebrate 4/20 this year

Stuck indoors? Covid restrictions got you down? Do you just want to lay low this 4/20? Have no fear—we’ve got you covered. Here are some ideas so you can celebrate 4/20 from the comfort of your home. Bake some weed brownies Baking weed brownies will always be the most popular go-to activity when you want […]

The post 5 low-key ways you can celebrate 4/20 this year appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

Cannabis Holidays to Celebrate Throughout the Year

We all know 420 as the quintessential stoner holiday. Even many people who don’t smoke very much have heard of the day; it’s globally recognized. But did you know there are quite a few other cannabis holidays, more quaint and less commercialized ones, that are very much worth celebrating?

So, mark your calendars, call your friends, and make sure you’re stocked up on all your favorite products when these cannabis holidays roll around.

To learn more about cannabis, and for access to exclusive deals on flowers and other products, subscribe to The CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter


420 – April 20th

First on the list, not because it’s the most well-known but because it’s chronologically first, is none other than 420. The origin of the term 420 can be traced back to a group of five teens from San Rafael, California, the birthplace of many industry trends and the current largest cannabis market in the world. The teens were appropriately nicknamed “the Waldos” due to their preferred hang out spot – a wall outside of their high school. In the fall of 1971, the Waldos got wind of a rumor that a Coast Guard planted some cannabis seeds there and was no longer able to tend to his field.

Every day after school, they would pile into one of their cars, have a little smoke sesh, and scour the Point Reyes National Forest for this legendary crop. Their daily meeting time? 4:20 p.m. They never did find the elusive crop (that likely didn’t even exist), but they did manage start a trend that would first take over their high school and soon reach global status.

The phrase “420” quickly spread around, especially with teens and young adults, because it allowed teens to talk about cannabis openly while their parents, teachers, and supervisors were none the wiser. Eventually, thanks to some attention from Grateful Dead and a simple flyer that read, “We are going to meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County at the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt. Tamalpais.” Once High Times printed the story, accompanied by a photo of the flyer, it was game over… 420 was officially a thing.

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Jack Herer’s Birthday – June 18th

If you live in a legal or medical market, it’s not uncommon to find numerous strains with “Jack” in the name. Jack Diesel, Critical Jack, and Super Jack are all variants of the infamous sativa strain, Jack Herer. A lot of people, both consumers and those within the industry, know about the potent effects and robust flavor of this strain, however, many are unfamiliar with the man behind the strain.

After serving in the U.S. Army and moving to Los Angeles, California, Jack tried marijuana for his first time at the ripe of 30 years old. After falling in love with the plant and its effects, he quit his job and opened a head shop in Venice Beach, a mecca for art and hippie culture at the time.

By the 1970s, Jack Herer became a powerful presence in the movement to legalize cannabis. Herer spent a lot of time at the Library of Congress, reviewing decades of government-backed research on marijuana benefits and hemp fiber uses. He used this information for his 1985 book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, which marked a watershed in his career as a cannabis industry activist.

His book quickly became known as the “holy grail” or “bible” of cannabis knowledge. To this day it is still viewed as a classic and a must-read for anyone with any sort of involvement with cannabis. To commemorate his many strides in the cannabis industry, many choose to celebrate his birthday, June 18th, by lighting up a joint, bowl, or blunt in one of his legendary strains.

710 – July 10th

For most people, July 10th is just another day; but in the cannabis industry, it’s a new-ish holiday to celebrate dabs. While most people view this as a very recreational form of using cannabis or hemp buds, many medical patients utilize it for the strong and fast-acting effects. Concentrates have anywhere from 50 to 90 percent cannabinoid content.

The exact origins of how this holiday came to be remain a bit hazy, but the date was picked for one simple reason: when you take the number 710, and flip it upside it looks just like the word “OIL”. The first documented 710 celebrations were back in 2012, when Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational cannabis and thus, created The 7/10 Cup to showcase newly permitted concentrate products.

Current 7/10 celebrations consist of concentrate consumption, usually via a popular method referred to as “dabbing”. Concentrates come in many forms such as wax, shatter, and bubble hash, and you can get both THC and CBD varieties. A small amount of concentrate is loaded into a dab rig then heated with a blowtorch.

CBD Day – August 8th

August 8th is celebration of cannabidiol specifically. Although it technically started as a marketing campaign, it’s grown to be nationally recognized as a day to spread awareness about the numerous health benefits of using CBD, arguably one of the most important cannabis holidays. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive so it’s primarily used in the wellness sector and there is even and FDA-approved medication, Epidiolex, that utilizes CBD as the main ingredient.

Although Epidiolex is only prescribed to patients with a few rare forms of epilepsy, CBD is used to treat a laundry list of different ailments including anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain, nausea, and other neurological disorders.

CBD is legal in all 50 states and, according to a recent Gallup poll, 64 percent of Americans have tried it at least once or have some level of familiarity with it, and 14 percent of people use it regularly. For adults under the age of 35, it is the preferred treatment method for mental health disorders.

Cannabis Holidays – Final Thoughts

Aside from 420, what cannabis holidays will you be celebrating this year? And how do you plan to celebrate? Let us know in the comment section below and make sure to subscribe to The CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter for exclusive deals on flowers and other products.

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The post Cannabis Holidays to Celebrate Throughout the Year appeared first on CBD Testers.

Finding the Balance Between Holiday Spirit and Commercialism this 420

When 420 began back in the early 1970s, it was simply a day for weed smokers to connect during a time when that wasn’t always an easy feat. April 20th was an underground stoner holiday that has long held a special place in cannabis tradition and lore. However, as cannabis continues to find its place in the mainstream, the quirky, light-hearted fun of 420 gave way to unchecked commercialism and has now become little more than a day to score deals if you’re a consumer, and sell extra products if you’re a business owner – it’s basically the Black Friday of the cannabis industry.

Some people don’t mind the trend, and for the sake of keeping it honest, I definitely love a good 420 deal myself. But deals aren’t everything, it’s important to remember the true meaning behind 420 – friends, oneness, and progress. Some companies and industry professionals have denounced the materialistic nature of modern-day 420, altogether and are hoping to take the holiday back to its carefree origins.

For more articles, follow us on social media and subscribe to The CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter. We also have exclusive deals on flowers and other products, for those of us still shopping for and participating in 420!


History of 420

The origin of the term 420 can be traced back to a group of five teens from San Rafael, California, the birthplace of many industry trends and the current largest cannabis market in the world. The teens were appropriately nicknamed “the Waldos” due to their preferred hang out spot – a wall outside of their high school. In the fall of 1971, the Waldos got wind of a rumor that a Coast Guard planted some cannabis seeds there and was no longer able to tend to his field.

Every day after school, they would pile into one of their cars, have a little smoke sesh, and scour the Point Reyes National Forest for this legendary crop. Their daily meeting time? 4:20 p.m. They never did find the elusive crop (that likely didn’t even exist), but they did manage start a trend that would first take over their high school and soon reach global status.

The phrase “420” quickly spread around, especially with teens and young adults, because it allowed teens to talk about cannabis openly while their parents, teachers, and supervisors were none the wiser.

Trends spread around high schools all the time, but how did the 420 become internationally known? That took some star power, for which we have the Grateful Dead to thank. The Waldos had connections with the Grateful Dead. Mark Gravitch’s father managed the band’s real estate and Dave Reddix’s older brother was good friends with Phil Lesh, the Dead’s bassist.

At a Dead concert during Christmas weekend 1990, High Times reporter Steve Bloom was handed a flyer that read, “We are going to meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County at the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt. Tamalpais.” Once High Times printed the story, accompanied by a photo of the flyer, it was game over… 420 was officially a thing.

What 420 has become

Instead of a chill day to get together with your friends and enjoy the wonder that is dank weed, 420 has become a day to scroll the internet or local dispensary menus for the best deals. On average, cannabis consumers plan to spend just under $150 on 4/20 alone, which for most of them, is equivalent to or more than their typical monthly spending.

“I think brands that associate themselves with cannabis kind of get that contact high. In other words, they’re just considered to be cooler by association,” said Kit Yarrow, consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University. “As pot becomes more legal, more discussed, more interesting to people, more widely used, then 420 becomes more mainstream as well.”

This boost of “coolness” provided by cannabis translates into big money for companies that offer marketable products. Companies in the beauty industry can formulate a quick CBD lotion, offer it at a discount on 420, and they have a quick marketing campaign that can net thousands of dollars. It’s great when cannabis companies offer a token of appreciation to their customers which frequently comes in the form of a discount, but when everyone is trying to cash in on the 420 momentum, it can be a bit over the top. Some companies are choosing not to participate in the madness, and it is easy to see why.

One example is Scott Sundvor, CEO and co-founder of Space Coyote, a San Francisco-based infused joint maker who was thoroughly disappointed that what “started as a celebration of weed has degenerated into consumerism and bargain hunting at dispensaries,” he mentioned in a Forbes interview. He says that his company is encouraging consumers to be “less retail-obsessed” this holiday season. “This 420, we encourage everyone to get out in nature, light up a joint, and enjoy their day and this beautiful plant to the fullest.”

Evelyn LaChapelle, a program associate at the Last Prisoner Project, a nonprofit focused on cannabis criminal justice reform, believes 420 is a distraction from more important priorities. “Before going to prison I celebrated 420 with the rest of the thousands of people who celebrate every year,” she said. “After prison I realize that thousands of people around the country celebrate cannabis while 40,000 people still sit in prison for cannabis. The legal industry must do something to right this wrong.”

Overall, I think people are just tired of this “money rules all” society that we have become, and they’re searching for some deeper on many different levels. How you enjoy your free time certainly counts.

Speaking of Black Friday…

Similar trends are starting to happen in the retail world as well, with many companies beginning to boycott black Friday. Over the last couple of years, Apple, Costco, Crate & Barrel, IKEA, Nordstrom, Sam’s Club, Staples, and many other retailers are rejecting Black Friday in response to the “discount creep” that has quickly led to deals starting on Thursday, Thanksgiving of all days.

Some people refer to it as “Black Friday Eve”, “Black Thursday”, or “Gray Friday,” but many are somewhat disturbed by the blatant materialism being displayed on a holiday when we are supposed to give thanks for all that we do have. It’s irony to the max.

It is an incredibly smart and practical move on the companies’ parts, marketing masquerading as anti-marketing. On the surface, it’s a boycott that directly disadvantages them. However, it is viewed publicly as a “brave” and “moral” stance, so people who feel the same way about Black Friday are then more likely to support these companies. A study conducted by the research firm MarketLive found that roughly 65 percent of consumers “hate or dislike” the trend of retailers opening stores on Thanksgiving Day, and only 12 percent firmly support the idea of it.

Final thoughts

Again, deals aren’t a bad thing. They’re actually wonderful in my opinion – I’ll be stocking up at my local dispensary and we’ll have some amazing deals in our newsletters as well, but it’s important to remember they’re not everything. The real purpose of this holiday is togetherness among fellow stoners, so call up a friend, take a walk in nature, volunteer somewhere or get involved in your local cannabis activism community; whatever makes you feel like you’re truly seizing the holiday. Take those deals you get and share them with a loved one!

What are your plans for 4/20 this year? Drop us a line in the comment section below and make sure to subscribe to The CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter to make sure you don’t miss anything this April 20th!

The post Finding the Balance Between Holiday Spirit and Commercialism this 420 appeared first on CBD Testers.

420 Wordsearch – Don’t worry, we’re still getting baked this year

420 is almost here and once again, nobody seems to be excited about it. At one time, it was considered to be a stoner’s Christmas but that was before the pandemic. Last year was supposed to be a really big deal because technically, it was 420 for the entire month of April. Unfortunately, the coronavirus […]

The post 420 Wordsearch – Don’t worry, we’re still getting baked this year appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, January 19, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Biden Taps Marijuana Legalization Supporter To Lead Democratic National Committee (Marijuana Moment)

// New York Governor Releases More Details On Marijuana Legalization Proposal (Marijuana Moment)

// Feds To Send Marijuana And Hemp Samples To Labs As Part Of Large-Scale Testing Accuracy Study (New Cannabis Ventures)


These headlines are brought to you by Atlantic Farms, a Maine-based multistate cannabis business with operations in Maine and Massachusetts. Atlantic Farms is looking for people to help it grow and evolve as investors. Open up TheAtlanticFarms.com for more on the company and email info@theatlanticfarms.com to learn about investment opportunities.


// Feds To Send Marijuana And Hemp Samples To Labs As Part Of Large-Scale Testing Accuracy Study (Marijuana Moment)

// Cannabis MSO Cresco prices Canadian share offering to raise $125 million (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Village Farms Raises $135 Million (Green Market Report)

// Washington state forms compliance group to assist marijuana businesses (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Akerna Reveals Top 5 Cannabis Sales Days of 2020 (Cision PR Newswire)

// Local Massachusetts Lawmakers Unanimously Approve Psychedelics Decriminalization Measure (Marijuana Moment)

// USDA Releases Final Rule For Hemp Two Years After Crop Was Federally Legalized (Marijuana Moment)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Photo: Third Way Think Tank/Flickr

Project Playlist: How to Find the Right 420 Tunes

If you’re old enough, you may remember the terrific agony of combing through your music collection in an attempt to make the perfect mixtape. Each song had to be meticulously placed, the entire playlist had to flow seamlessly and putting an artist on there more than once was a cardinal sin. Gestures of that magnitude were typically reserved for significant others or potential significant others and were considered a big deal — especially if you included your own customized cover art.

Even if you don’t go all out, making a mix of great music to smoke to — whether it’s for yourself, someone else or to play in a social setting — is an art that requires equal parts effort and creativity. There aren’t a lot of rules when it comes to making a playlist but there are some things that make a difference and show that you spent some time coming up with just the right combination and not simply putting your playlist on auto-pilot aka shuffle.

Need some ideas on getting your 420 playlist together? Check out some of these suggestions to help you get started on the right track.

Curate your Vibe

First things first — what are you smoking and what’s the mood you’re going for? Is this background music or something you’ll be paying attention to? Are you trying to chill out with a nice hybrid without any distractions? Maybe an instrumental album or beat tape will work. Do you want something to hype you up while you puff on sativa? Peruse your workout playlist for something upbeat and exciting. Once you’ve decided how you want your playlist to make you feel, you’ll have some direction that will give you an idea of where you want to start.

Pick a Theme

Although it’s not completely necessary, it’s a nice touch to have your playlist connect in some way even if it’s just for fun. You can choose an era like ’90s hip-hop, play exclusively reggae if you want to stick to a genre, opt for a keyword to bridge your songs together (ex: every song has the word “high” or “green” in the title) or let the strain of your choice influence your flow. The more creative and out of the box, the better.

Do Some Research

Not sure where to start? Lots of streaming services suggest similar or related artists that are in the same ballpark as what you’re already listening to on a regular basis. Love Snoop Dogg but don’t want to be hella obvious about your song choice? Find someone similar. Trying to avoid ubiquitous stoner rock? Let the internet lead you to greener pastures and new sounds. It’s perfectly fine to stick to tried-and-true tunes that you know are certified jams, but stepping outside of the comfort of your downloaded tracks can not only make your playlist more exciting but can also broaden your musical horizons.

Pre-game Your Playlist

If you plan on using your playlist for a party or some other social gathering, give it a test run at home before you debut your masterpiece. As you listen, keep your audience, the environment and your desired experience in mind. If a fast song comes on right after a chill song, you might disrupt the vibe. Likewise, if a slow song follows something playful and high-spirited, it could kill the party. The key is to make sure there are smooth transitions that make sense and make you feel good.

TELL US, what music are you listening to?

The post Project Playlist: How to Find the Right 420 Tunes appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Friday, April 3, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, April 3, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Eleven Senators Push To Let Marijuana Businesses Access Federal Loan Programs (Marijuana Moment)

// Weed Prices in France Nearly Double as Supplies Dry Up Due to COVID-19 (Merry Jane)

// Illinois Stores Sold Nearly $36 Million Worth Of Recreational Marijuana In March Despite Coronavirus (Marijuana Moment)


These headlines are brought to you by Curaleaf, one of the leading vertically-integrated cannabis operators in the U.S. With legal medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation sites, and processing facilities all over the United States, Curaleaf has served more than 165,000 medical cannabis patients and looks forward to helping many more long into the future. Swing over to Curaleaf.com to learn more about this very cool company!


// Canada classifies medical cannabis ‘essential’ amid COVID-19 pandemic (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Canada’s COVID-19 wage subsidies could keep cannabis workers on payroll (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Idaho Activists Suspend Campaign To Legalize Medical Marijuana Due To Coronavirus (Marijuana Moment)

// Cops Are Still Busting Weed Grows in the Middle of the Coronavirus Pandemic (Merry Jane)

// The 2020 Hash Bash will be livestreamed due to the coronavirus (Detroit Metro Times)

// Coronavirus Pandemic Cancels Annual ‘420 Hippie Hill’ Cannabis Celebration In San Francisco (KPIX 5 CBS SF BayArea)

// When will your state’s COVID-19 cases peak? Check this chart (Leafly)


Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

Love these headlines? Love our podcast? Support our work with a financial contribution and become a patron.

Photo: Geoff Livingston/Flickr