420 weed

Happy Holidaze, Weed Readers!

Happy 4/20!

But wait… what does 4/20 even mean? Why do so many folks in (and out) of the cannabis culture, reference this number to no end but couldn’t tell you what it meant?

For most, it’s used as code– using 420 to reference cannabis was believed to have originated as a police code, then adopted as a counterculture.  Other users believe the reference was started by the band, The Grateful Dead. Word of Deadhead meetings, aka Grateful Dead concerts, was spread through flyers. One story in particular mentions a flyer bearing the info, “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” (source).

The apparent truth of the origin story is, ‘420’ was a term established in the early 70s by a group of high school students from San Rafael, CA. They called themselves The Waldos, and still do. Well before any states had legalized cannabis, one might need to go by an alias, or at least be very careful about where and when they did their smoking. Their group name was coined in reference to the statue they’d meet as, as well as the number alluding to the time

So while the term was established by a group of high schoolers, it’s obviously made it’s way across the country and other parts of the world, as a catch-all term for cannabis culture. As I said, the uprising of cannabis counterculture in the 90s and its use of ‘420’ was helped along by The Grateful Dead and its fan base. Members of The Waldos had close relations with the Dead, so really, each part of the origin story does have some truth to it. Each piece of lore or information ends up weaving together to form a more complete envisioning of how the notion of ‘420’ started.

Regardless of where the term came from, people take great joy in being able to reference (though no longer that subtle) their activities or culture in ways others can recognize. For the most part, the culture developed off the back of the phrase is pretty harmless. (Though let me say, hearing “heheh, 420, man” anytime the clock changes over, gets old.)

Most people celebrate the “holiday” by spending it with their friends, consuming plenty of cannabis, and for some, it’s become a political opportunity to advocate for legalization. Many cities, especially in states where cannabis is legal, tend to have some sort of gathering to observe the day, often at universities or parks. If it interests you, do some searching and see what’s going on in your area. If not, find your own way to celebrate! Have your first bowl or joint outside, share it with friends, or make someone’s day and hide some nuggets in easter eggs!

Whatever you decide to do, be smart, and be safe. Know the laws of your town/state on cannabis before you go lighting up on the sidewalk. Know your rights if you’re stopped by police! The perception and reputation surrounding cannabis users is something important, if we want to get any closer to legalization, or in general, acceptance of its use in everyday life. So, act accordingly–your cannabis use does not relieve you of being respectful or having some awareness!

All in all, let tomorrow be a day of celebration, relaxation, and feeling grateful that such a wonderful plant exists. Happy holidays!

-hope this is what you guys meant, it’s not that polished but feel free to edit what you don’t like!

Image credit: gettyimages.com


10 Countries That Smoke the Most Weed

Have you ever wondered where on Earth people smoke the most weed? Me too. Unfortunately, that kind of information tends to be vague and somewhat fuzzy. With cannabis illegal practically everywhere around the world, the production, sales and consumption of pot is driven underground to the black market.
However, there are many organizations dedicated to keeping track of drug traffic, the largest and most respected being the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Every year they publish the World Drug Report, which uses surveys and law enforcement data to estimate the percentage of the population in different countries which use drugs. This list draws on data from the UNODC to determine the total number of cannabis users in each country (not the highest use per capita, as you’ll see in other lists). This gives us a better picture of how much weed is actually smoked in any given country.
Without further ado, I give you the 10 countries that smoke the most weed:
10. Canada

photo by Gorgo, via wikipedia
photo by Gorgo, via wikipedia

Canada is a land of wide open spaces, natural beauty – and liberal marijuana laws. The government issues licenses for medical and industrial use, and often “looks the other way” on recreational use, especially in the province of British Columbia. Of 36 million citizens, the World Drug Report found that 12.6% were marijuana smokers, enough for Canada to squeak in at #10 on our list with 4.5 million cannabis smokers.
9. Spain
photo of Toledo skyline by David Iliff, from wikipedia

Spain is one of the leading examples of drug policy reform, pursuing a model of decriminalization and treatment instead of punishment and imprisonment. It is legal to grow and consume cannabis in your home or in private clubs, and smoking in public only results in a fine and seizure. According to the report, 10.6% of Spaniards use cannabis; but some sources put the figure as high as 25%. With a population of 46 million people, even using the more conservative estimate means that there are 4.8 million smokers in Spain – more than enough to make the list.
8. Egypt
photo from wikipedia
photo from wikipedia

Egypt is famous for being home to one of the oldest civilizations on Earth, and the site of such ancient wonders as the Sphinx and the pyramids at Giza. Ancient Egyptians used cannabis medicinally, religiously and recreationally, but it was outlawed in 1925 under the Geneva Convention on Narcotic Control. However, marijuana use is still widespread, and very much a part of the culture. The report found that only 6.2% of Egyptians are cannabis users, but with a total population of 88 million, that is more than 5.4 million smokers; #8 in the world.
7. France
photo by Nicolas Holftermeyer, from wikipedia
photo by Nicolas Holftermeyer, from wikipedia

France is not known for being lenient with drug offenders. Getting caught smoking on the streets of Paris could get you up to a year in jail. Despite facing these harsh penalties, however, 8.6% percent of French people admit to using cannabis. With a population of 66 million, that calculates to 5.6 million pot smokers in France, making it one of the top consuming countries in Europe, and #7 in the world.
6. Ghana
photo from wikipedia
photo from wikipedia

Somewhat surprisingly, the tiny African nation of Ghana is one of the world’s top consumers of cannabis. Despite marijuana technically being illegal there, it seems that smoking pot has become increasingly commonplace, especially among young people. With a population of only 27 million, Ghana is the smallest nation on our list. But with an incredible 21.5% of the population, or 5.8 million people, admitting to cannabis use, Ghana is the sixth biggest consumer of marijuana in the world.
5. Pakistan
photo of the Wazir Khan Mosque by Shaguftakarim, via wikipedia
photo of the Wazir Khan Mosque by Shaguftakarim, via wikipedia

Pakistan has a long history of cannabis and hashish use. It is used openly by Hindus and Sufis for religious purposes, and is sometimes smoked during communal gatherings. Although technically illegal, marijuana is somewhat tolerated, and the laws are seldom enforced. According to the report, only 3.9% of Pakistanis consume cannabis. But, as the fifth most populous nation on Earth, home to 196 million people, that still translates to 7.6 million pot smokers, making Pakistan #5 on our list.
4. Italy
photo by David Iliff, via wikipedia
photo by David Iliff, via wikipedia

Italy is the birthplace of linguine, Lamborghini and Leonardo da Vinci. This lovely Mediterranean nation is also Europe’s largest consumer of cannabis. Marijuana is illegal there, although possession of small amounts of pot has been somewhat decriminalized – you can be fined, and have your license suspended, but you can’t be sent to jail. Regardless of the legal status, 14.6% of Italians smoke weed, out of a population of 61 million. That’s 8.9 million admitted cannabis users, #4 in the world.
3. Nigeria
photo by Riki, via wikipedia
photo by Riki, via wikipedia

Nigeria is the largest nation in Africa, in terms of both population and economy – so, no surprise that it is the largest consumer of cannabis on the the continent. Marijuana is illegal, but it’s use is still very widespread. Of 174 million people, 14.3% of them are cannabis users. Which means that there are 24.8 million pot smokers in this West African nation, making Nigeria the third largest consumer of weed in the world.
2. India
photo by Muhammed Mahdi Karim, via wikipedia
photo by Muhammed Mahdi Karim, via wikipedia

Cannabis has been a part of Indian life and culture for thousands of years, a fixture in certain religious rituals and festivals. The British government began to impose restrictions and regulations on hemp and marijuana in the late 19th century, which only intensified with the rise of international drug treaties. Today pot is technically illegal, but is actually sold and consumed openly in some states, especially in the form of bhang. Though a mere 3.2% of the population uses marijuana, India is home to 1.2 billion people. That equates to 38.4 million cannabis users, meaning the second most populous nation on Earth is also the second biggest consumer of ganja.
1. U.S.A.
photo by Matt Wade, via wikipedia
photo by Matt Wade, via wikipedia

The U.S. is currently undergoing a sea change in marijuana policy. The latest scientific research shows the tremendous medicinal potential of cannabis, and the latest polls indicate that a majority of Americans are in favor of legalization. Medical marijuana is legal in more than 20 states, and recreational use is legal in four states, the District of Columbia, and the cities of Portland and South Portland in Maine. 13.7% of Americans admit to using cannabis, and out of a population of 320 million, that’s 43.8 million smokers. Which means that when it comes to smoking weed, nobody does it more than the U.S. of A.


Why is Weed Illegal?

For purposes of clarity the term ‘cannabis’ will be used in this post to mean marijuana, pot, hemp, weed or whatever you happen to call it.
Cannabis has not always been illegal in the US. The history of the plant and its uses can help us to understand why things are now the way they are.
Back in 1619, when the only English colony in the Americas was Virginia, the then King of England decreed that every colonist grow 100 cannabis plants. The harvested plants were to be exported to England and used primarily for the manufacturing of cloth and rope. For use on sailing vessels.
England has a long history of sending its representatives to distant parts of the globe for the purpose of conquering them. And one the earliest means of transportation was by sailboat.
Canvas, which is a sturdy fabric originally made from hemp, has qualities that make it excellent for sail making. The word canvas is derived from the 13th century Anglo-French canevaz and the Old French canevas. Both may be derivatives of the Vulgar Latin cannapaceus for “made of hemp,” originating from the Greek κάνναβις (cannabis). (From Wikipedia)
The American colony of Virginia, and later the rest of the English Colonies, produced cannabis to meet the demands of the Crown and for their own use. Rope and sturdy fabric being essential to early colonial life.
It was not until the mid 1800’s that cannabis began to play a role in pharmaceuticals. Although cannabis has been used ‘recreationally’ since around 3000 BC.
At about the same time the US government began to play an increased role in the lives of its citizens as the enforcement arm of Big Business.
Without human intervention, cannabis is a weed. Ideal conditions for maximum crop yields are narrow, however the plant will grow and thrive to the extent necessary to produce seed and ensure the survival of the species in a wide range of climates and soil conditions.
Even if you don’t take human intervention into consideration, cannabis has been through a lot and yet has managed to migrate and thrive far from its origins in Asia.
Which posed a problem for the early pharmaceutical industry. If people could grow, trade and consume a weed with medicinal benefits as well as being fun to use then why would they bother to purchase some concoction from a store?
Enter legislation restricting and eventually prohibiting the possession, trade and use of cannabis.
And to make their reasoning as convincing as possible rumors began to spread that cannabis was poison. Which resulted in it being classified as a Schedule One Substance. Along with peyote, psilocybin and mescaline.
War has a long history of fueling economic growth. In 1971 then US President Richard Nixon declared War on Drugs leading to a law enforcement frenzy and the arrest and imprisonment of millions of US citizens. As well as creating a shot in the arm for the US economy.
It is interesting to note that the use of natural substances has historically been associated with minority groups. Of interest is Latin America and cannabis. Between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn in the Americas lies an area well suited for the clandestin cultivation of illegal plants.
Rugged, mountainous terrain and a poorly developed infrastructure both lend themselves to hectares being dedicated to growing cannabis and coca. Coupled with a culture that keeps the vast majority of people in poverty, the cultivation of these plants has become a staple for many poor and rural people.
The criminalization of these plants has created an extensive black market. With exorbitant prices and a cash business policy, drug lords have and continue to fight to protect their investments and earnings. An estimated $320 billion USD in profits are realised by the illegal drug trade every year. Which is funneled into the mainstream economy.
And the pharmaceutical industry is left to its own devices to create and market concoctions that develop clients rather than cures. Worth another $300 billion USD a year. And you and I left to bear the resulting death, destruction and reduced health and wellness.
History has shown that government and big business can go against public opinion for only so long. While the naysayers continue to push their pot is poison rhetoric, John and Jane Q. Public have begun to voice their discontent.
As this is written the US states of Colorado and Washington have legalized cannabis for recreational use. And it is projected that other states will soon follow.
But there is the opinion of the US Federal Government. Cannabis is still considered to be a Schedule One substance and as such is illegal in all 50 US states.
‘They’ are now admitting that the sheer number of violators makes the enforcement of some laws unadvisable. Such would bog down the already slow wheels of justice.
So progress is being made – but there is a price.
Big Business has begun to study the plant and its effects in an effort to isolate and market some of the chemicals found in cannabis. And the government is inventing new ways of harassing users – other than outright prohibition.
Weed will eventually be legal. However we’re not there yet and many challenges have yet to be overcome.
It would be nice to sit back, fire up the bong and enjoy a smoke. And we can every once in a while. But complacency will bear disastrous fruit. There are petitions to sign, rallies to attend and emails to send. The work of pro weed organizations needs our support and donations. And our collective voice must be heard at the ballot box.
The powers that we have allowed to be can ignore us for only so long. Society will change. But remember, your effort is required. Your voice must be heard. The old adage ‘together we stand, divided we fall’ has never been truer.
I challenge you to take the money you would spend on weed for a day once a week and donate it to pro weed advocacy. I challenge you to donate a day a month to circulate a petition or in some other way further our cause.
Join an online forum or community and let your voice be heard. And above all let the politicians know that it is pointless to run for office IF they do not support the decriminalization of weed.
“United We Stand”