April 20 is marked by marijuana smokers as 420 day. 420 day is an unofficial celebration dedicated to the ‘holy smoke’ all across the globe. People symbolically celebrate the day to highlight the need of decriminalising marijuana and to promote the counter culture.
What is 420?
In late 1970s, Waldo Steve got a treasure map to a patch of weed on the Point Reyes formula. The map was gifted to him by a friend whose brother was working in the US Coast Guard.
Gary Philip Newman, working in the Coast Guard base at the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse, was secretly growing cannabis crop and at one point, he became paranoid that he would be busted for growing weed in Federal property.
So, he drew a map of the location and handed it over to his brothers and the people whom he trusted. The Waldos, a group of Marin County California high school friends, assembled after getting the secret map to harvest the plant after deciding to meet near the statue of chemist Louis Pasteur on the campus of San Rafael High at 4:20pm to get high and search for the group.
Eventually in the ensuing school days, the Waldos used the term ‘420’ to remind each other about the cannabis hunt. The term was picked up by others and spread from generation to generation and finally evolved to a festival of celebrating the counter culture of smoking weed.
Cannabis is considered as a divine drug by ancient people. It is mentioned as Indracanna- food of the god- in the vedic period. Ancient shamans used the drug as a catalyst in thier rituals.
The traditional Buddhist monks used Cannabis as a gateway drug to expand the consciousness and facilitate meditation. The Rastafari movement involves the spiritual use of marijuana and rejection of materialism and oppression.
In 1937, US Congress passed the Marijuana tax act which imposes an occupational excise tax upon certain dealers in marijuana. Critics said that law was actually aimed to sideline the hemp industry and to favour businessmen Andrew Mellon, Randolph Hearst and the Dupont family who were actively involved in timber industry, nylon industry, medical industry etc.
The 1936 propaganda movie ‘Reefer Madness’ demonised marijuana and portrayed it as a drug which lures the children and responsible for manslaughter, hit and run accident, rape, suicide attempt and hallucinations.
The 1937 act outlawed Marijuana usage from American soil and pressurized all other countries to criminalize hemp usage.
The actual reason behind US’s Marijuana ban is racism, fear, protection of corporate profits, yellow journalism, personal advancement and greed.
The famous Gore files by Federal Bureau of Narcotics director Harry J. Anslinger says “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”
Due to the influence from US, the Indian Government passed the National Drugs and Psychotropic Acts in 1985 which says that marijuana consumption is same as shooting heroine or cocaine. The propaganda run mainly by US media eventually led UN to compel all other countries to illegalise/criminalise marijuana and all byproducts and place it in the array of banned drugs along with heroin, cocaine and other Grade A narcotics.
420 day is to commemorate people about System’s foul play in branding marijuana as a ‘Satan-inducing’ plant. Neglecting the medical and industrial usage of the multifunctional plant, third world countries including India are spoiling the golden chance to revive its economy with the benefits of the hemp industry.