Carnival Cruise Line To Continue Using Drug Dogs Amid Prevalence of Pot

Carnival Cruises will continue to deploy drug detection dogs to search for pot and other drugs, according to a brand ambassador who confirmed the cruise line’s drug policy Tuesday.

Don’t plan on smoking if you’re vacationing on a cruise: Carnival Cruise Line (CCL), Royal Caribbean (RCL), Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH), and every other major cruise line operating or departing U.S. ports bans cannabis consumption on-board. Most display “Drug Free Zone” signs aboard and employ a zero tolerance policy.

Cruise lines follow federal law, which trumps state laws, even though their ships are not flagged in the U.S., so cannabis is prohibited in nearly every circumstance. The open seas are not actually lawless and laws typically extend miles from shore, and most cruises stop in multiple countries.

The Gwinnett Daily Post reports that Carnival Cruise won’t be changing its policy on cannabis anytime soon, after a brand ambassador clarified the cruise line’s efforts to control cannabis use on-board.

“As for the drug detection dogs, well let me say that they have, along with our no tolerance rules and enforcement, made a massive difference to the problem of people thinking it is legal and allowed to use marijuana on their cruise. It isn’t,” Carnival Brand Ambassador John Heald posted on his Facebook page on May 23. 

Some cruise guests complained of the weed smell that is common on cruises. Passengers say they get it while ships dock on ports and when they venture into the city.

“They really need more drug dogs when we are getting back on the ship because people pick up drugs in ports and that is when I smell marijuana on the balconies,” a commenter named Janet replied on Heald’s page.

Problems with Drug Sniffing Dogs and Cannabis

There are a handful of problems with using dogs to sniff out drugs and pot. Commenters raised concerns about allergies to dogs that might be interfering with privacy.

Heald continued, “These uber intelligent and highly trained dogs are used at embarkation and occasionally, not every cruise on every ship will sail as well with their handlers. Again, the ships are large enough for this [to] not be a concern for anyone who is allergic…”

It turns out that the Washington Post asked this same question last March, and a CCL representative confirmed the cruise line’s cannabis policy.

“In case there’s any confusion, let me remind guests that while marijuana and cannabis products may be legal in some states, we are required to follow federal law irrespective of the law in the state where you may be boarding your ship,” CCL President Christine Duffy told the Washington Post.

Since dozens of states have legalized cannabis in one form or another, drug dogs in general are losing their jobs in droves. In other cases, drug-sniffing dogs are getting trained to ignore cannabis. Why? A major exposé from The Chicago Tribune in 2011 claimed that drug-sniffing dogs can pick up on and follow the biases and prejudices of their handlers. 

It’s not just dogs. China enlists drug-sniffing red squirrels, while honeybees could soon be the next natural drug locator. Researchers at the University of Cologne in Germany recently published a study in the journal Plos One, entitled “Detection of Illicit Drugs by Trained Honeybees,” showing the promise they have in law enforcement.

Cruise passengers who are caught with cannabis are typically punished quickly, and often kicked off the cruise at the next port.

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Positive Cannabis Drug Tests in Workplace at the Highest in 25 years

According to a Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index Analysis that was published on May 18, post-accident workplace drug testing hit an all-time high in 2022. Last year, 7.3% workforce drug urine samples contained cannabis, in comparison to 6.7% of workers in 2021. Quest Diagnostics states that it has recorded a steady rise in post-accident cannabis positivity since 2012, with a 204.2% increase in workers testing positive for cannabis over the past 10 years. Between 2002-2009, post-accident positive test results had decreased.

Katie Mueller, National Safety Council senior program manager, said in a press release that the rise in legalization corresponds to an increase in workplace accidents. “Intoxicating cannabis products, including marijuana, can have a major impact on safety at work and have been proven to slow reaction time, impact memory and impair skills essential to driving. State legalization of the drug creates new challenges for employers,” said Mueller. “The Quest data provide compelling evidence that increased use of cannabis products by employees can contribute to greater risk for injuries in the workplace. It is imperative employers take the proper steps to create and maintain a policy that addresses cannabis use, build a safety-focused culture and educate the workforce to keep all workers safe on and off the job.”

The report states that cannabis was the main reason that workers’s drug tests have been positive, but other substances such as amphetamines have also contributed to the increase, with cannabis increasing by 10.3% and amphetamines increasing by 15.4%. In 2022, the most common industries that saw a rise in positive workplace drug tests were Accommodation and Food Services (7%), Retail Trade (7.7%), and Finance and Insurance (3.6%).

Keith Ward, Quest Diagnostics General Manager and Vice President for Employer Solutions, 

“Our 2022 Quest Diagnostics analysis shows that the overall U.S. workforce positivity rate continued to be at a historically elevated level in 2022, even as much of the nation’s workforce returned to the office post-pandemic,” said Ward. “This historic rise seems to correspond with sharp increases in positivity for marijuana in both pre-employment and post-accident drug tests, suggesting that changing societal attitudes about marijuana may be impacting workplace behaviors and putting colleagues at risk. The increase in amphetamines positivity is also notable, given the addictive potential and health risks associated with this class of drugs.”

While safety is of the utmost importance in any workplace, the Quest Diagnostic data does not address how cannabis can remain in a person’s system for weeks after consumption, long after the effects have faded. With the rise in cannabis legalization, many industries are becoming more understanding of how cannabis is being commonly used as a relaxation aide, as well as treatment for common conditions like anxiety, depression, and more.

In February 2021, the Biden Administrations announced a new policy that would allow applicants to be hired even if they had previously consumed cannabis. “The White House’s policy will maintain the absolute highest standards for service in government that the President expects from his administration, while acknowledging the reality that state and local marijuana laws have changed significantly across the country in recent years,” the policy stated.

In September 2022, New Jersey regulators issued employment guidance for cannabis rules in the workplace, which “is meant to support employers’ right to create and maintain safe work environments, and to affirm employees’ right to due process.”

Additionally, a Canada-based study from 2020 found no association with cannabis use and increased workplace injuries. It analyzed 136,536 workers, 2,577 of whom experienced a work-related injury within the last 12 months, and only 4% stated that they were cannabis users during that time frame.

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Weed Legalization Has Contributed to a Decrease in Tobacco Use

A study published in the Journal of Health Economics addresses the topic of tobacco use in the wake of cannabis legalization. Entitled “Have recreational marijuana laws undermined public health progress on adult tobacco use?” researchers found that cannabis reform in individual states has led to decreased tobacco use. The study was conducted by Bentley University, San Diego State University, and Georgia State University. “This study is the first to comprehensively examine the impact of the legalization of recreational marijuana on adult tobacco use,” authors explained.

Researchers reveal three key findings in their study. First, that “first-stage” results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) “show consistent evidence that RML [recreational marijuana laws] adoption increases adult marijuana use by 2- to 5-percentage-points, including through vaping.”

Second, authors state that they “find no evidence that legalization of recreational marijuana increases adult tobacco use.” And lastly, that “RML adoption accompanied by the opening of recreational marijuana dispensaries is associated with larger increases in ENDS [electronic nicotine delivery system] use than RML adoption without open dispensaries.”

Ultimately, authors wrote that the increased number of recreational dispensaries “is an important supply channel to explain substitution between marijuana and tobacco among adults.”

However, they conclude that the rise of cannabis has led to cautionary warnings from public health experts who call for more research. One of their primary concerns is that the rise of cannabis smoking could lead to an unintended “renormalization of smoking” that could potentially set back existing tobacco control policies.

The Surgeon General report of 1964 is famous for connecting tobacco use to lung cancer, stating that smoking cigarettes was “responsible for a 70% increase in mortality rate of smokers over non-smokers,” according to the National Library of Medicine. According to Surgeon General Luther L. Terry, the report “hit the country like a bombshell. It was front page news and a lead story on every radio and television station in the United States and many abroad.” 

Nearly 60 years later, tobacco use has widely decreased. The authors found that tobacco use fell earlier in states with recreational cannabis legalization than those without. “The results provide some support for the hypothesis that tobacco use declined in several of the earliest adopting states, most notably in Colorado and Washington, which are also those states that saw the largest increases in marijuana use following RML enactment,” authors concluded.

Authors also pointed out that the tobacco use reduction is “consistent with the hypothesis that recreational marijuana and tobacco may be substitutes for some adults.”

In February, California legislators introduced a bill that would ban tobacco sales to anyone born after 2006 to phase out tobacco use and addiction. However, big tobacco industry leaders are continuing to find new ways to move into the cannabis industry. One of the biggest tobacco companies in the world, British American Tobacco (BAT), announced last September that it would be purchasing a Germany-based cannabis company called Sanity Group GmbH. “We continue to transform our business, through better understanding of our current and future consumers, as part of our A Better Tomorrow purpose,” said BAT Chief Growth Officer Kingsley Wheaton last year.

Data from other studies still shows evidence that tobacco use continues to plummet. A May 2022 study found that cannabis legalization has contributed to a decrease in alcohol and cigarette consumption. Another study from July 2022 shows that cannabis use is supported by Australians much more than tobacco use, and a Gallup poll released one month later in August 2022 also showed how Americans smoke more cannabis than cigarettes.

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Ban on Outdoor Pot Smoking in Amsterdam’s Red Light District To Begin This Month

A new ordinance banning cannabis use on the streets in Amsterdam’s Red Light District is slated to take effect later this month. 

The ban, officially approved by Amsterdam’s city council last week, will “come into effect from May 25 and will be enforced by police and local officials,” according to Bloomberg, which noted that violation of the new law will result in a €100 (or $109) fine.

The law was offered up by the Amsterdam city council in February, with local officials decrying the “nuisance” and “grim” atmosphere of the famous district at night.

“Residents of the old town suffer a lot from mass tourism and alcohol and drug abuse in the streets. Tourists also attract street dealers who in turn cause crime and insecurity. The atmosphere can get grim especially at night. People who are under the influence hang around for a long time. Residents cannot sleep well and the neighborhood becomes unsafe and unlivable,” the city council said in a statement at the time.

“A smoking ban on the street should reduce nuisance. We are also looking at a pick-up ban at certain times for soft drugs. If the nuisance does not decrease enough, we will investigate whether we can ban smoking on terraces at coffee shops,” the council continued.

CNN reported at the time that if the outdoor smoking ban failed to achieve the desired results, the “municipality said it would also consider banning take-out purchases of soft drugs at certain times, and banning smoking marijuana at coffee shops’ outdoor seating areas.”

“It is estimated that about 10% to 15% of Amsterdam’s tourist industry is based in the red light district,” according to CNN. “City officials want the De Wallen neighborhood, as the district is known in Dutch, to draw visitors who can appreciate its unique heritage, architecture and culture rather than sex and drugs. Over the past few years, there have been multiple initiatives to reduce the impact of mass tourism and nuisance visitors, and to revamp the area’s image.

In 2020, guided tours were prohibited from passing sex workers’ windows, and there was talk of moving the window brothels to a neighborhood outside of the city center—conversations that continue to this day.” 

Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema has prioritized cleaning up the Red Light District since becoming mayor nearly five years ago.

In 2019, Halsema, who is Amsterdam’s first female mayor, “presented four options aimed at protecting sex workers from degrading conditions, tackling crime, and reducing the impact of tourism in Amsterdam’s De Wallen red-light district,” CNN reported at the time.

“For many visitors, the sex workers have become no more than an attraction to look at. In some cases this is accompanied by disruptive behavior and a disrespectful attitude to the sex workers in the windows,” Halsema’s office said, as quoted by CNN, which outlined some of the mayor’s proposed reforms:

“Four scenarios have been proposed for discussion including closing the curtains on the windows so sex workers can’t be seen from the street, fewer window-style rooms, moving the brothels to new locations elsewhere in Amsterdam and the possibility of a sex worker “hotel” being created. The plans aim to protect sex workers from gawking tourists and their camera phones, and also to combat a rise in abuses such as human trafficking. The four proposals will be discussed with sex workers, residents and businesses in July, before being taken to the city council in September. The plans will ultimately be developed into a new policy on sex work, the mayor’s office confirmed.”

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Nate Diaz Denied Pot Exemption for Drug Test Ahead of Jake Paul Fight

Nate Diaz and Jake Paul will face off in the boxing ring on August 5 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The eight-round pay-per-view (PPV) event on Showtime is Diaz’s professional boxing debut following his decorated career in mixed martial arts (MMA) as a UFC fighter.

Diaz was denied a request for an exemption from the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation (TDLR). The TDLR has a zero-tolerance policy for cannabis use, but Diaz’s manager Zach Rosenfield requested an exemption. 

Questions arose whether the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA)—an organization that provides anti-doping practices and programs in boxing and mixed martial arts—may supersede the TLDR, MMA Fighting first reported. A TDLR spokesperson told Steven Marrocco of MMA Fighting that Diaz will be subject to the same rules as everyone else in combative sports.

For the time being, it looks like Diaz will still be screened for THC.

“We will be working with VADA on testing prior to the fight and will be in compliance with all VADA rules, as well as the rules and regulations set forth by TDLR,” Real Fight, Inc. President and Diaz manager Zach Rosenfield told High Times.

Many professional athletes know what they can and cannot get away with regarding drug testing for pot, and the timing involved. “We gonna be testing,” Diaz told reporters at a press conference, referring to the drug test sample. “There’s a lot of weed in [my system]. There is.”

Diaz taunted Paul on Twitter, to which the former YouTuber fired back. “You speaking to me Nathan?” Paul said, responding to Diaz’s tweet. “We haven’t forgotten that you tested positive for steroids. You and your boyfriend Connor are juice heads. Let’s do 15 rounds and see how good those cannabis corroded lungs are. VADA going to be coming to Stockton to slap you up.”

If it were a UFC fight, the request might have resulted in a different outcome. The U.S Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) adopted guidelines to no longer punish UFC fighters when THC is detected in a drug test in 2021.

In addition to mandatory drug tests from TDLR, Diaz and Paul will likely provide samples to the VADA both before and after their boxing match in Dallas.

Everything is on the line, at least for Paul’s boxing career. A surprise knockout by Tommy “The Truth” Fury on February 26 in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, cost a lot of bettors money. That makes Paul 6-1 in the boxing ring, beating AnEsonGib, Nate Robinson, Ben Askren, and Tyron Woodley twice.

Paul has been subject to drug tests multiple times since his transformation from a YouTube star (along with his brother Logan) to boxing. Paul did not like a question during an interview ahead of the Diaz fight by a reporter who suggested he is not destined for the Hall of Fame.

“See, I’ve done more for the sport than any boxer in current history,” Paul said. “What has Floyd Mayweather done for women’s boxing? The list goes on. I’ve changed the whole entire game, brought a new 70 million followers to the sport and put on bigger pay-per-views than some of these Hall of Fame guys. Ryan Garcia-Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis, 800,000 pay-per-views. Me vs. Tommy, 830,000. So, you wanna talk about Hall of Famers? You wanna talk about resume? Yeah, I’m building it up, buddy. I just got started in this game. This is my eighth fight and I’m fighting Nate Diaz, one of the biggest MMA fighters in history. So, yeah, that’s my resume.”

Diaz and his brother Nick have spoken out regarding pot reform for years. The two eventually launched Game Up® Nutrition, a plant-based wellness company providing products loaded with cannabinoids, adaptogens, and superfoods.

Over a decade ago Nick told the Los Angeles Times his cleansing method before a drug test. This followed a technical knockout (TKO) win over Frank Shamrock back in 2009, who is also an outspoken cannabis advocate.

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Forty-Two Percent of American Adults Use Cannabis

A new report called Cannabis Consumers in America 2023: Part 1 was recently release by New Frontier Data on May 2. The study analyzes a wide variety of trends and demographics of the modern cannabis consumer.

According to New Frontier Data CEO Gary Allen, more than 42% of adults have used cannabis and say that they will use it again. “Cannabis consumers are diverse with users spread across age groups, genders, economic brackets and political affiliations,” said Allen in a press release. “With 42% of U.S. adults having used cannabis and likely to do so again, and another 15% expressing interest in trying cannabis in the future, acceptance and receptiveness continues to grow, creating massive opportunities in both new and emerging markets.”

The survey sample size included 5,534 participants, which was broken down into 4,358 cannabis consumers and 1,176 non-cannabis consumers, who were surveyed in Q1 of 2023.

The survey found that 37% of U.S. adults are considered to be “current consumers” who either consume pot annually and plan to do so in the future, while 30% of Americans have never used pot, and don’t intend to. Additionally, 15% of Americans have never tried cannabis but are interested in doing so, and 13% are former consumers who no longer partake.

New Frontier Data also published a 2022 analysis of American consumers. In comparison, the number of current consumers increased from 39% in 2022 to 42% in 2023. For those who have never used cannabis and don’t intend to, the number dropped from 34% in 2022 to 30% in 2023. 

The study also reviews results from participants of different age ranges being asked about their past month of cannabis use between 2017 and 2021. Since 2017, the percentage of adults between 18-20 has decreased by 8% and increased by 20% for those 21-25. Some of the biggest increases in that four-year period included adults ages 65+ with a 96% increase, and adults ages 40-44 with a 64% increase. Across the board, all age groups increased significantly, with the exception of the 18–20-year-olds.

Approximately 74% of people in the U.S. live in a state with some kind of legal framework, and 48% live in an adult-use state while only 26% reside in a state with only medical cannabis.

In terms of product popularity, 2022 data from legal cannabis markets show that flower still dominates most product share of sales with 43%, followed by vapes at 29%, edibles (including beverages) at 11%, and extracts at 9%. Tinctures, topicals or “other” all reflect 1% or less of product share.

The race or ethnic identity is mainly broken up between white (63%), Hispanic/Latinx (14%), Black (14%), Mixed/multi-racial (4%), Asian (3%), and Other (2%). Currently, a majority of consumers are men at 54% and women at 46%. 

Participants showed that 70% of consumers use cannabis to target a specific objective. A majority of consumers, about 83%, use cannabis for “unwinding (relaxation, stress, or anxiety)” and 61% use it for improved sleep. Most consumers use cannabis while watching videos, television or movies at home (56%), listening to music (52%), sleeping (45%), browsing the internet (37%), eating (36%), spending time with family/partner (35%), socializing (33%), playing video games (32%), and doing housework or chores (30%). (Under 30% includes activities such as cooking, having sex, spending time in nature, and drinking alcohol.)

Most medical cannabis consumers use it to treat diagnosed conditions such as chronic pain (46%), migraines (21%), PTSD (17%), and osteoarthritis (10%). The average consumer typically uses cannabis for symptoms such as pain (64%), anxiety (55%), depression (41%), insomnia (40%), and inflammation (28%). Ninety-four percent of consumers say that their medical conditions or symptoms improved after consuming cannabis.

According to the survey results, 77% of flower consumers say that strains are important, while 47% are more interested in minor cannabinoid and terpene profiles. “Despite recently increased industry focus on minor cannabinoids and terpenes, most consumers still use strains to make decisions,” New Frontier Data stated.

For consumers who prefer edibles, gummies lead by a large margin at 84% for most common edible, followed by 50% who enjoy cookies or brownies, 42% choose chocolates, and 22% prefer beverages. Most consumers who choose edibles will consume 2-4 mg (14%), 5 mg (18%), or 10 mg (17%).

Cannabis Consumers in America 2023: Part 1 contains a wealth of information about cannabis consumers today, with 45 pages of charts and data on other topics such as spending trends, where consumers choose to buy their product, brand loyalty, social consumption details, perspective on policy, and more.

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Feds Relax Rules Regarding Cannabis Use To Attract Younger Workers

No one understands how regressive (and…evil) the feds are. Thanks for burning down all of those fields of pretty plants over the years, guys, not to mention the countless lives ruined by the War on Drugs. It doesn’t make up for it, but the federal government is finally relaxing its drug screening rules, The New York Times reports. Why? As the older generations, who were often more sympathetic to Nancy Reagan’s thinking, leave the workforce, the feds must recruit younger workers. And younger workers grew up in a different time, understanding that cannabis is both a medicine and a generally safe way to relax and elevate life (without the aggression that the Boomer’s three-martini lunches bring). 

Whether they like it or not, the feds know that polls suggest that more than half of Americans enjoy cannabis and that a majority believe it should be legal. Medical cannabis use is legal in 38 states (and D.C., home of the feds), and recreational weed is allowed in 22 states. Still, in an ever-absurd loop, it remains illegal under federal law. 

And let’s be clear. The federal government is not saying that its employees can start using cannabis. So what is changing? 

Historically, even being honest that you used cannabis would make you ineligible for many federal jobs. So agencies are scaling back policies regarding any past cannabis use. The New York Times reports that over the past five years, 3,400 new military recruits who failed a drug test on their first day were given a “grace period to try again.” Biden is also expected to stop digging deep into past cannabis use for those applying for security clearances. 

And the C.I.A. traditionally told applicants that they should refrain from cannabis for one year before applying. But in April of last year, they shortened that to 90 days. And in 2021, the F.B.I. shortened its abstinence requirement from three years to one. And, ever so graciously (yes, that is sarcasm), the Office of Personnel Management decided to stop viewing folks who used cannabis previously as a security risk, streamlining the security clearance vetting process. 

At present, if you want to apply for security clearance, you must confess (detailed, kind of like when you join Scientology, and they make you disclose any dirt) any illegal drug use over the past seven (!) years. Under their new and improved laws, that number would go down to five. Regarding cannabis, applicants only have to disclose any use 90 days before seeking out the job, which at least acknowledges that cannabis presents fewer risks than other drugs (even though cocaine is Schedule II and cannabis is Schedule I, so if we are to believe the feds, blow is safer than puff-puff-pass). 

As for military service, the Army waived more than 3,300 recruits who failed a drug test or admitted past drug use between 2018 and 2022. The Army is the most chill — the Navy historically has a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who fails their entry drug test, but they recently started giving recruits a chance to take another piss test after 90 days if they failed the first one. Both the Air Force and The Marine Corps are also offering second chances. 

In the post-COVID job market, the feds now have to compete with the private sector, where many folks can work from home and even keep their Sativa vape nearby if they need an energy boost. It appears that the pandemic and resulting economic fallout forced them to pull their heads out of their asses and relax some policies. Let’s hope that one day they realize that even their new “relaxed” policies are as out of touch as satanic panic. 

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The Cannabis Guide to Injectables

While many cannabis users embrace signs of aging and effortlessly transform into beautiful crones as they get older, some of us, such as myself, are vain. We enjoy that through technology, such as injectables, we can look better in our 30s than in our 20s. While topicals such as eye creams, including those with CBD, offer valuable moisture and even anti-inflammatory properties, just to be blunt about it, if you want to get rid of wrinkles or add volume to your face naturally lost to age, you need injectables.

I’m a 35-year-old woman who gets Botox. And, as my book launch party approached for Weed Witch: The Essential Guide to Cannabis for Magic and Wellness, I decided I also wanted under-eye and cheek filler to restore lost volume under my eyes, which was seriously bugging me. Botox (which usually lasts about three to four months) blocks chemical signals from nerves that cause muscles to contract, resulting in relaxed facial muscles and getting rid of wrinkles. Comparatively, fillers are gel-like substances typically made of hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring polysaccharide present in skin and cartilage, that are injected beneath the skin to restore lost volume. Fillers can last from six months to two years, depending on which variety you get. Today, Botox and filler are often used in conjunction. People new to the plastic surgery game tend to associate fillers with lips, and while that’s totally a thing, you can also use filler to restore lost volume in the cheeks, augment a chin, and even for non-surgical nose jobs. 

Botox is the number one non-invasive cosmetic procedure, and fillers now come in second. I must tell my readers something important for every fan who looks at their favorite pop star, almost sadly stating: “They don’t age.” For celebrities, injectables are as common and expected as using night cream. Being rich is very good for your skin, and getting injectables is basically part of the job description of having your face on screen (and not just for women). And injectables, when done correctly, look natural. The saying “You aren’t ugly, you’re just poor” is very real. Botox and fillers can cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand, depending on what you get done and where you go. But, if you don’t know these cosmetic secrets, seeing “ageless” (read: people with fillers and botox) celebrities can cause unrealistic beauty standards, which is why you can call me vain and privileged for having access to such cosmetic procedures, but you can’t call me a liar, because I will always be honest with you. 

But while I budgeted and looked to plan my filler appointment with Dr. David Shafer of Shafer Clinic Fifth Avenue, I realized that there is hardly any information for cannabis users interested in injectables. Are there interactions? Do I need to worry? “There is no contraindication to using cannabis products and getting dermal filler injections,” Dr. Shafer reassuringly tells me. Phew. I can have my cannabis and vanity too. 

Courtesy Sophie Saint Thomas

However, ganja glamour witches, that doesn’t mean you should show up stoned for your appointment. As a plastic surgeon once warned me about Botox, the most significant risk is that I’ll like it. The same common sense applies to cannabis and injectables. It’s probably not going to hurt you, but let’s be honest about it. Cannabis lowers inhibitions, which could lead to asking for more filler than you need or could afford, and you don’t want to be high during a procedure involving needles, in case it leads to anxiety. “For any procedure we perform, a patient needs to give informed consent. So they really can’t show up stoned for their procedure,” Dr. Shafer says. “Although if they are nervous I am sure it would help them relax,” he adds.

As you can see in these photos, Dr. Shafer did an impeccable job with my fillers. I am beyond happy with the results. His office offered all the glorious glamour yet a sense of security and trust that one could ask for in a plastic surgeon’s office. I have 19 tattoos, 12 piercings, and I have previously gotten filler and Botox. Needles don’t scare me; getting filler feels good because it makes me feel glamorous. While it takes about two full weeks to fully settle, you can see results right away (Botox takes about two weeks to see the frozen magic you came in for). 

Doctors do advise avoiding alcohol, and any blood-thinning medications, after or before getting injectables, as they can increase bleeding, which cannabis can also cause. However, because cannabis can also lower anxiety, some doctors say it’s okay to use before a procedure to relax as long as you understand the risks. “You can use cannabis before injections but there will be an increased risk of bleeding which will then cause bruising,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jessie Cheung. “So if you have a social event close to your treatment time, I would advise against smoking before coming in. But totally okay to use before coming in to ease anxiety and comfort level.”

Aware of the bruising risks and wanting to be totally clear as a journalist and patient, I did not use cannabis before my appointment, but I did use edibles later on at home for pain relief (smoking seemed counterintuitive on a day of beauty). Around eight hours after getting my fillers I took some light edibles to help me relax and sleep, as my cheeks were a little sore and had slight bruising around the injection sites. I did not take any OTC (over-the-counter) painkillers, as cannabis did the trick, and I don’t drink at all, so that wasn’t a concern. “Many of our patients are surprised when I say it’s perfectly ok to continue using cannabis after their treatments. People that have found cannabis products to help with post-treatment and post-surgery soreness,” Dr. Shafer wrote to me, easing my worries about using cannabis later on. From a harm reduction perspective, cannabis certainly seems safer than other avenues of post-procedure pain relief (I’m looking at you, opiates, although these are not prescribed post-filler or Botox as they can be for surgeries such as rhinoplasties). 

Courtesy Sophie Saint Thomas

So, if you are a cannabis user interested in fillers, long story short, don’t show up too stoned for your procedure, and you should be fine. To be extra careful, wait 24 hours before using cannabis. Not long ago, I reported on the Stoner Swiftie community and noted that in my 13 years as a journalist, I had never received so many requests to be interviewed for an article. This one was the opposite. Despite knowing countless people who use cannabis and get injectables, very few people wanted to talk about it. As someone who got into cannabis originally as a medical patient for PTSD and anxiety, I find that the plant tends to keep me honest. Of course, getting injectables, or any procedure, is between you and your doctor, and you have every right to privacy. However, after diving into the intersection of cannabis, injectables, and celebrity culture, my main concern is not any harmful medical interaction but the continued silence around getting Botox and fillers. Thanks to social media, more people are getting honest about injectables, but, especially regarding celebrities, I see far more claims of “this is just my face” when I know enough about plastic surgery to spot it a mile away, even through Instagram filters. So, for all the Weed Witches who wish to live deliciously and vainly, should you choose to get real about your work, know that you’re helping to spread honesty on why no one seems to age anymore. CBD is great, I wrote an entire book on it, but it’s not the reason you can look better at 35 than 25, and anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something. 

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Study: No Significant Association Between Cannabis Use, Developing Psychosis

While experts have argued in the past that the link between psychosis and cannabis is overstated, another study published just last year linked increased risk of psychosis and addiction to high-potency cannabis.

Now, a new study published in the journal Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences is sharing another perspective, finding that cannabis use is not associated with an increased risk of developing psychosis, even among those predisposed to the disorder. 

The research was conducted by a team of investigators from Australia, Europe and the United Kingdom.

Exploring Psychosis and Cannabis

The authors point to the history of research on this specific issue, adding that there have been “limited prospective studies” on the topic and that “the direction of this association remains controversial.”

They describe the study’s primary aim, “to examine the association between cannabis use and the incidence of psychotic disorders in people at clinical high risk of psychosis.” Researchers were also looking to assess associations between “cannabis use and the persistence of psychotic symptoms, and with functional outcome.”

For this study, researchers assessed the relationship between cannabis use and the incidence of psychotic disorders in clinically at-risk subjects. The study analyzed 334 individuals who are at high risk of developing psychosis, along with 67 healthy control subjects at baseline. The investigators then followed up on the participants over a two-year period using a modified version of the Cannabis Experience Questionnaire.

During the follow up, 16.2% of the clinical high-risk sample developed psychosis. Of those who did not develop psychosis, 51.4% had persistent symptoms and 48.6% were in remission. 

Authors ultimately stated, “There was no significant association between any measure of cannabis use at baseline and either transition to psychosis, the persistence of symptoms, or functional outcome.” They added that the findings “contrast with epidemiological data that suggest that cannabis use increases the risk of psychotic disorder.”

A Potentially Misunderstood Topic

The findings are indeed contrary to a number of other recent studies on cannabis and psychosis, though there may be more to this conversation than initially meets the eye. 

A 2016 review of previous research published by The Lancet (the journal which also published the 2022 study) found that people already experiencing psychosis can improve outcomes by reducing or eliminating cannabis use. This essentially shows that cannabis does not exhibit a causal relationship to psychosis. 

While people with psychotic illnesses may use cannabis and other substances more often, studies showing lifetime incidences of acute cannabis-induced psychosis in the general population are still rare.

This study specifically showed that, even among those predisposed to psychosis, a history of cannabis use is not associated with an increased risk of developing the illness. While authors noted that further research is still needed to understand the relationship between cannabis use and mental health outcomes, these findings could help to shift perspectives on policy and healthcare in the future.

Affirming Previous Findings

It’s also not the only study to come to a similar conclusion. 

A 2022 study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry analyzed emergency room data related to cannabis-induced psychosis. Researchers concluded that the implementation of Canada’s cannabis legalization program “was not associated with evidence of significant changes in cannabis-induced psychosis or schizophrenia ED presentations.”

A similar study, published in January 2023 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at the same question in relation to the United States, analyzing data from 2003 to 2017. Researchers came to the same conclusion, “The findings of this study do not support an association between state policies legalizing cannabis and psychosis-related outcomes.”

The post Study: No Significant Association Between Cannabis Use, Developing Psychosis appeared first on High Times.

From the Archives: The Power of 420 (2003)

By Karen Bettez Halnon

Marijuana-smokers, like members of other close-knit groups, have a special language. But often people in the straight-and-narrow world just don’t understand it. Strange and alien to outsiders are words such as nugs, dank, permagrin, wake’n’bake, blunt, bogarting, Rastafarian, Towlie, or even coffeeshops. After 30 years of full-blown marijuana counterculture, outsiders still remain oblivious to the most special marijuana catchphrase of all: “Four hundred and twenty what?”

What outsiders miss, the discerning (and very possibly slightly reddened) eye can find all around. The 420 imprimatur is on bongs, t-shirts, patches, and coffee mugs. Marijuana fans find it frequently in stoner magazines, headshops, and in music lyrics. They feel lucky if they have 420 phone numbers, street addresses, or birthdays. This number is found at smoker websites, on Saturday Night Live, and in news media on or around every April 20. For many smokers, 420 is a guiding light and inspiration. Basically, for those with a raised consciousness of it, 420 is an essential part of everyday life.

Curious about this hidden yet vibrant phenomenon, I did some research. The results of my sociological investigation were fascinating. Especially intriguing was the potency of 420, unique in the multiple ways it inspires and cultivates identity, community, and even reality.

It’s difficult to even think of another single numerical expression that compares. 411 or 911? Lucky 7? Demonic 666? Trinitarian 3? Sexual 69? Tragic 9/11? LSD-25? Or even the infinite 3.1416…? While these numbers are significant, none by themselves embrace and reflect a community to the extent that 420 does.

In documenting 420, I hope to express the sociological “surprise” of 420. However, sociological surprises do not necessarily provide new information. The surprise of sociology comes when it shines new light on our everyday behaviors and experiences. Everyone on the inside knows that 420 is a most special number. My goal is to explain some of the sociological reasons for its special status as spirit and guide for marijuana smokers. In doing so, I drew upon the insights of nearly a hundred 420 smokers.

Learning the “Secret Code”

Learning is extremely important in achieving an identity. In fact, it is the basic and necessary way any identity is achieved. And if learning takes place with friends or family, achieving that identity is even more likely.

Following this pattern, most pot-smokers first learn about 420 from high school or college friends, or from brothers or sisters. One smoker learned about it from “good friends in the military” who “introduced 4:20 as an alternative to 1620 military time.” Others explained that they “became part of the ‘crew’ by hitting 420,” or learned about it when “sharing marijuana with new friends” at rock concerts—Phish shows in particular.

One of the first lessons smokers learn is that while the meaning of 420 is obvious to insiders as universal or as an international symbol for marijuana, marijuana-smoking, and marijuana subculture, it’s also a “secret code” or “secret advertiser.” Smokers recounted comedic stories, such as one where a high school teacher asked a student what time it was, and he replied, “Four-twenty,” eliciting the laughter of in-group classmates and the bewilderment of his teacher. Another smoker explained that 420’s “secret” quality allowed him to get a pro-marijuana symbol past high school authorities, sneaking a criminal-style number-420 mugshot into the yearbook without the faculty editor noticing. Others explained that it allowed them to wear blatant symbols of marijuana to school (420 written on hats, t-shirts, and the like) without encountering the negative sanctions associated with less obscure symbols, such as marijuana leaves. Still others explained that 420, as a secret code, allowed them to safely and accurately identify others who smoke marijuana. For example, one smoker explained, “Four-twenty is like a secret advertiser… a good way to keep scattered tabs on who puffs.”

All of this is fascinating to the sociologist, because secrets and humor are very effective means of binding groups closer together. Secrets create a social boundary between outsiders and insiders, making insiders feel closer together. Humor, at least for those who share in it, enhances feelings of relaxation and warmth. Together, secrets and humor cultivate closeness, commitment, and group solidarity.

420 “Time”

Smokers explained that 420 is “a time that is in between day and night, a break… a good time to relax and chill.” Others said, “If my friends and I are ever up at 4:20 AM, we always celebrate by smoking a bowl or joint. It is simply a justified reason to smoke.”

For novices, 420 motivates smoking behavior by organizing time. The newly inducted learn that 420 means “a” or “the” time to smoke. For example, smokers explained how they learned that 4:20 in the afternoon was “prime time” for smokers, the “pot-smokers happy hour,” the “best time to smoke,” or the “international smoke time.” One expressed the general sentiment of the novice: “You have to smoke at 4:20 if you have herb.” Smokers explained how they set their alarm clocks, or how clocks in general served as reminders to smoke at 4:20. Nearly all smokers agreed that for the novice, 420 becomes an excuse or a reason to smoke, and frequently involves excessive smoking.

This pattern is sociologically significant, because a crucial ingredient in the recipe for identity achievement is immersion in identity-shaping activities. In other words, smoking lots of weed in the beginning normalizes getting high and increases the chances of defining oneself as a smoker of weed. The sociologist would also take note of the important fact that the organization of time is one of the most basic frameworks that supports and legitimates a “reality.” Stated othetwise, 420 time lends legitimacy or a sense of truthfulness to pot-smoker reality.

Puffing such sociological value aside, more seasoned smokers resisted. They complained that such time structuring created a “ritualistic use of 420″ or that it turned marijuana-smoking into a joke.” One smoker, who described himself as “patriotic to the weed,” claimed that 420 should not be guided by time, but rather a more spontaneous “pledge and a tribute.”

Whether a novice or seasoned user, what nearly everyone agreed upon is that 4:20 (PM or AM) means a source of unity or oneness in the pot-smoker community. It was variously described as a “time to unite with all smokers,” a “smoker’s club,” and a way to “brings users together for smoking, community, and solidarity.” Smokers repeatedly claimed that 420 created a common bond among friends and fellow smokers. They know that when they light up at 4:20, thousands, if not millions, of others are doing the same thing for the same reason.

420 “Origin” Conversations

Most pot-smokers would probably accept as fact that 420 originated in San Rafael, CA, with Steve Waldo, who used the expression “420 Louie” in high school. Waldo used it as a secret code to remind friends to meet for smoking sessions at the Louis Pasteur statue, 70 minutes after the 3:10 dismissal. However, regardless of whether or not the smokers I talked with actually knew of the veracity of Waldo’s claim, they were generally uninterested in determining 420’s true origin. One expressed a typical view: “The actual meaning of 420, or where it came from, seems unimportant to me compared to the feeling of 420. That is the true meaning.” Another was of a similar opinion: “Most people do not desire to know where 420 came from, but rather enjoy it for its cultural importance.” A third, after reviewing a number of possible theories, explained, “While some of these reports are more believable than others, they all represent how important the number is to the marijuana community.” Emphasizing the value of learning from talking about 420, a fourth smoker expressed this general point: “I think the most valid meaning of 420 origins is the underlying things you learn.”

What fascinated me about origin theories was that while smokers actively discussed and debated them, they didn’t care about learning the truth. This apparent contradiction made more sense when I realized that the dozens of theories discussed and debated, though often wrong or unprovable, were equivalent to a 101 course in marijuana cultural literacy. It is, as smokers repeatedly told me, more important to discuss and debate than to discover truth, because of the underlying things that can be learned.

Courtesy High Times

Smokers learn, for example, about taking a defiant attitude toward police enforcement of anti-marijuana laws, and about the meaning and importance of people and things such as Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, Cheech and Chong, Jamaica, Haight-Ashbury, Amsterdam, and THC. While these 101 lessons are an important part of the socialization of new smokers, origin conversations are important for all smokers. They provide a subject for many deep, philosophical, and scientific conversations. Smokers said that stoner philosophizing about origins was especially meaningful when sharing a bowl, joint, or bong, and in effect was a learning session. Exploring, but not necessarily proving, origin theories provides many important lessons in marijuana culture. In other words, 420 origins serve as a good, celebratory, and often humorous teacher.

The most common origin theory profferred by smokers is that 420 is or was a Los Angeles “police code for marijuana-smoking in progress.” Researching the validity of this claim, I called the Los Angeles Police Department and asked if 420 was the “real” police code for marijuana-smoking in progress. The answering officer explained that 420 in the “penal book” referred to “preventing or obstructing entry upon or passage upon public lands.” I then asked what the code would be for marijuana-smoking in progress. He said the California Health and Safety Code for “any narcotic drug,” including marijuana, is 11350.

Steve Waldo, writing in High Times (“4:20 & the Grateful Dead,” May ’01 HT), explained further: “Although it has often been rumored, 420 is not a police code for drug-law enforcement. Drug enforcement in California, and in San Rafael, is part of the state Health and Safety Code, in which all sections have five-and six-digit numbers, sometimes separated by a decimal point. Pot-related activities and violations fall in the middle 11300s.”

The police-code origin theory, while false, calls attention to the fact that marijuana is an illegal substance, pointing to a central value difference between what is law and what is valued among marijuana-smokers. To embrace the police code as a smoking symbol is to learn to stand in defiance against laws that make smoking illegal. To call attention to California is to learn about a state that is the leader in the fight to legalize the medical use of marijuana.

A second origin theory is that 420 references THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) as “the number of chemicals in THC,” the “number of molecules in marijuana,” or the “number of elements in the marijuana plant.” Skeptical about these biochemistry claims, I solicited evaluation from Peter Webster, review editor of the International Journal of Drug Policy, who responded to my e-mail query as follows: “THC, or the principal active ingredient of cannabis, is a single chemical entity, i.e., one chemical. There are, however, many other closely related but less psychoactive chemicals in cannabis, some of which may be more important in medical applications. Each, however, is a different chemical, since its molecular structure is unique. Again, THC is one chemical. Marijuana contains perhaps many thousands of different molecular entities, from the couple of hundred cannabinoids, such as THC, to chlorophyll; fats; fibers such as lignin and cellulose; sugars; enzymes; and a wide range of other organic chemicals; to minerals, water, etc. [There are a] number of elements: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, chlorine, sodium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, many trace metals, and probably many others in trace amounts… in effect, most elements in the first part of the periodic table, and probably even some traces of heavy metals—whatever is in the environment in which it grows.”

While also false, the THC origin theory aids in learning about the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, which is standard knowledge for any marijuana-smoker.

A third set of related theories revolves around Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead. Smokers claimed, for example, that 420 was the “address of the Grateful Dead’s home at Haight-Ashbury,” that “pot-smoking is almost synonymous with the Grateful Dead,” and that 420 refers to the “exact time of Jerry Garcia’s death.” In researching these claims I found that, according to Rebecca Adams in Deadhead Social Science, “By late 1966, the Dead were headquartered at 710 Ashbury, near its intersection with Haight, the symbolic heart of the hippie community.” And according to the San Francisco Bay City Guide (March 2001), “The Grateful Dead were onetime residents of the Haight (710 Ashbury Street).” Finally, while staying in San Francisco, I took a cab to Haight-Ashbury myself to confirm the 710, not 420, address.

In researching the exact time of Jerry Garcia’s death, I found that, according to a People magazine (Aug. 21, 1995) cover story, he died on Wednesday, August [9], 1995, at 4:23 AM exactly. Other newspaper articles similarly reported that Garcia passed away in his bed at Forest Knoll after being found by a nurse who tried to revive him. The time of death again was reported as 4:23 AM. Thus, a third origin theory, while false again, aids in cultivating marijuana-culture literacy through its focus on classic stoner musician Jerry Garcia, stoner band the Grateful Dead, and the quintessential 1960s drug/hippie community, Haight-Ashbury.

A fourth set of origin theories revolves around times that are, like the theories above, significant to marijuana-smoker culture. One explanation is that 420 means teatime in Amsterdam or Holland. Probably, as in Britain, the time is closer to 4:30. Another explanation is that Tommy Chong (of Cheech and Chong, stars of the marijuana cult film Up in Smoke) was born on April 20. In fact, he was born May 24, 1938.

Another explanation states that 420 originated from “the date Haile Selassie visited Jamaica for the first time.” The late Ethiopian emperor, venerated by Rastafarians as signifying the rebirth of black rule in Africa, visited Jamaica for three days in April 1966, but he arrived on the 21st. Thus a fourth set of origin theories aids smokers in learning about the importance of Amsterdam, a city that tolerates “soft drug” use and where marijuana can be smoked freely in coffeeshops, educates them as to a major marijuana cult film and its figures, and reveals the ritualization of ganja by Rastafarians.

Smokers also claimed that 420 originated from the first recorded use of marijuana. In researching this claim, I found that 2737 BC is frequently cited in academic texts as the earliest reference to use of marijuana because of its mention in a Chinese treatise by Emperor Shen Nung. However, Erich Goode (in Drugs in American Society, 5th ed.) tells us that “there is no definite date of the earliest recorded use of marijuana, although descriptions of cannabis use can be found in ancient texts from China, India, Persia, Assyria, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. For example, marijuana is mentioned as a “healing herb” in The Divine Husbandman’s Classic of the Materia Medica, circa first or second century AD. In 650 BC, the use of cannabis is mentioned in Persia and Assyria. In 400 BC, the use of cannabis is mentioned in Rome. This time origin theory, while false or unprovable again, shows that marijuana-smoking has a long and deep historical tradition, and thus naturalizes its use for smokers.

Drawing more generally upon the illegal drug culture is the theory that 420 originated from the date Albert Hofmann discovered LSD-25. LSD-25 was first synthesized at Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland, in 1938. It was reshelved until April 16, 1943, when Hofmann made a “fresh batch,” swallowed 250 micrograms, and experienced the first extremely intense acid trip “for science” (Acid Dreams, Martin Lee and Bruce Shlain). This origin theory teaches smokers about Albert Hofmann and LSD, and by doing so asserts the value of using illegal drugs.

Perhaps the most creative but dubious time theory is that 420 originated from the position of a “dangling doobie” in the mouth of a Jamaican getting off work. The position of the joint was said to resemble an analog clock at 4:20. A final but certainly not exhaustive explanation is that 420 originated from Adolf Hitler’s birthday. One smoker explained, “Hitler represents in sharp opposite contrast all that the marijuana-smoking community stands for.” This theory, like the theories above, cannot be proven to have any direct reference to 420. And even though Hitler was in fact born on April 20, 1889, there is no evidence that 420 originated from that date. By learning the dangling doobie and Hitler theories, smokers learn about the value of Jamaica and Jamaican weed, and about the peaceful, laid-back spirit among smokers.

To summarize, by discussing and debating numerous 420 origin theories, marijuana-smokers are able to share stories filled with an array of important symbols of pot culture: Jamaica, California, Rastafarians, Cheech and Chong, Haight-Ashbury, the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, hippies, and THC. Through these conversations, smokers also learn many other lessons about the importance of defying laws and legal authorities that prohibit marijuana-smoking, the value and significance of locales where it is legal or at least tolerated, the deep historical tradition of marijuana-smoking, the spiritual justifications for it, and the easy, relaxed attitude of marijuana-smokers.

What is most important is not determining the true origin of 420, but rather engaging in conversations filled with lessons for marijuana-smokers. Because these origin theories are either wrong or unprovable, they provide for an ongoing learning conversation. The sociological significance of ongoing conversations—especially if they are rich in memory, tradition, common beliefs, and values—is that they are a basic and necessary means of maintaining any kind of relationship. The value of 420 origin stories is similar to that of retelling stories in a close-knit family. Stories—whether true, false, or embellished—strengthen a family’s sense of belonging, identity, and values, bringing it closer together. Even if we suspect that Aunt Lucy or Uncle John is not telling the truth, that doesn’t stop us from reveling in their old stories. The retelling itself becomes a cherished ritual and a means of communicating what is valued and important to the family. This said, the definitiveness of the Waldo theory is, at best, a mixed blessing for the pot-smoker community.

The Pot-Smokers’ Holiday

April 20—especially at 4:20 PM—is the “pot-smokers’ holiday,” also variously described as the “hippie New Year,” “national smoke time,” “national pot-smoking day,” “the holiday,” “pot appreciation day,” “the ultimate session,” or “a day of tribute to the scene.” One enthusiastic smoker reported, “Every group has its holidays, and pot-smokers are no exception. April 20th is the day of worship observed by smokers around the world.” Another said, “It’s comforting to know that hundreds of thousands of other people are lighting up with me on 4/20. It’s about the community identity of marijuana-smokers.”

For marijuana-smokers, April 20 is especially imbued with emotional and spiritual meaning because it produces an intense collective bonding among them. Smokers emphasized the special quality of the holiday: “We are talking about the day of celebration, the real time to get high, the grand master of all holidays—April twentieth.”

That statement also reveals a sense of family within the pot-smoking culture. “Tokers are brothers and sisters, therefore more closely connected than any other association.” Another smoker expressed the anticipation and joy of the holiday: “At 4:19 PM, everyone suddenly got quiet and the countdown began. When the time turned to 4:20, it was like New Year’s. Everyone was cheering and shouting, jumping, hugging, and of course smoking. It really was incredible. I felt connected not only to the peopie around me. but to everyone else in the world who was doing the same thing at that exact moment.”

While 4/20 celebrations give smokers a sense of worldwide community, they also reinforce old friendships or create new ones at rallies. Friends travel long distances, even across the country, to party together. As a result, friendships are refreshed or “become stronger than ever.” And people who might be strangers in other settings bond through their common allegiance to marijuana. One smoker explained, “It is a time when you can approach people who you do not really know and indulge in pot-smoking with them. You develop friendships with people because of the activities on 4/20 and at 4:20.”

The sense of worldwide “we-ness” and the friendships established and renewed at 4/20 celebrations are due largely to the fact that April 20 is a public forum for the fight for legalization. A smoker explained, “It is an exercise in solidarity, all of the pot-smokers coming together to smoke and the police being utterly powerless to do anything about it. I think this is the most valid expression of 420, as it puts the recreational use of marijuana in full view of the public, which is perhaps the first step towards gaining legitimacy.” In a sentiment echoed by others, one smoker explained that “4/20 at 4:20 is a time to come together, to share one’s lifestyle with others who feel the same way, to come together and stand strong and proud for marijuana.” Said another, “Personally, I feel it (April 20) to be a political statement. It is a good time to gather to show one’s support of legalization of marijuana.”

As a matter of efficient crowd control, police and university authorities generally tolerate the shortand seldom dangerous—yearly public statements by pot-smokers. One smoker said that not only is 4/20 a time to stand proud for marijuana, but that “it’s a day of tolerance, and the authorities let us ‘hippies’ have our fun and smoke pot.” Another said in proud defiance, “Pronounced ‘four twenty,’ it is a day of police non-enforcement of drug laws in certain areas, and a day to celebrate a ritual that has survived thousands of years, only to be condemned by our American government…. It’s one of the most liberating feelings to smoke pot in public and not be afraid of being caught.”

The experience of such a holiday provides pot-smokers with hope and inspiration—or with a vision of a future when they will be liberated from repressive anti-marijuana laws.

The Sociological Surprise of 420

In this article I have attempted to explain the sociological surprise of 420, or how that special number is imbued with the ability to cultivate an especially strong marijuana-smoker identity. As “secret code,” it creates a social boundary between outsiders and insiders, and enhances a sense of “we-ness” among insiders. As “time,” it legitimates smoker reality, and structures and motivates excessive smoking behavior among novices, thus providing a valuable “immersion” experience. As an “origin conversation,” it facilitates learning about many important fundamental facts and values of the marijuana and illegal drug-user cultures. As a pot-smoker’s holiday, it provides a special family holiday ritual, a “day of tolerance,” and a public opportunity to “stand proud for marijuana.” Most important, as a pot-smoker’s holiday, 420 creates an intense sense of group belonging among friends, strangers, and crowds, and across geographical boundaries. Sociologists call this “collective consciousness,” or a kind of mystical, spiritual, or extraordinary sense of belonging, where the group exists as a reality greater than itself.

In sum, the ultimate sociological surprise or fascination of 420 is that a single expression has the unique and powerful ability to cultivate, support, and reinforce pot-smoker identity, community, solidarity, and reality itself. The modest surprise offered here is a more comprehensive explanation of what smokers already know.

High Times Magazine, May 2003

Read the full issue here.

The post From the Archives: The Power of 420 (2003) appeared first on High Times.