It’s been 50 years since “420” became part of the lexicon — morphing from underground code for “time to get high” to what is now an open call for cannabis law reform. So on April 20th, everyone from stoners to U.S. Senators joined the party for this unofficial holiday — and even with most events happening online with people at home, this second pandemic year was still filled with the potent combination of publicity stunts, entertainment events, restaurant specials and celebrity tweets.
With recreational and/or medical legalization in 36 states plus Washington D.C. … and more to likely come this year … it’s no surprise how many politicians found it appropriate to join the celebration. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York topped the list by tweeting “Happy 420. The war on drugs was a war on people – and it was a failure. It’s time to legalize marijuana at the federal level.” Among the many others who made statements in support of legalization were Senators Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and John Hickenlooper … Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Barbara Lee, Jim McGovern and Mark Pocan … plus numerous state and local officials.
Even though 420 fell on a Taco Tuesday, there was still no end of special offers for the munchies. Fatburger had its OG Fatburger for $4.20. Jack In The Box offered a $4.20 Merry Munchie Meal. White Castle wouldn’t miss the party either, with a $4.20 Muncheese meal. And Jimmy Johns was giving away bean bag chairs on its website, along with a streaming “wake and bake” video on Instagram featuring comedian Rob Huebel.
Of course, many other entertainers had special performances for 420 fans. Comedians Chelsea Handler, Bob Saget, Dana Donnelly and Jeff Ross were among those making laughs fly online. Musically, rapper Wiz Kalifha and country artist Billy Ray Cyrus headlined “Higher Together”, Melissa Etheridge and Disco Biscuits headlined the “Highstream 420 Festival”, and Willie Nelson streamed “Come and Toke It” — all raising money for the Last Prisoner Project.
Plenty of brands took advantage of 420 tie-ins. Hotels.com was offering bookers chances to win $200 in “munchie money.” Lagunitas Brewing used the day to launch a new Triple IPA called “The Waldos” to commemorate the California teens who began the 420 movement. Adidas introduced a limited-edition sneaker featuring South Park stoner character Towelie, featuring a secret stash compartment. And BarkBox, a subscription service for dog toys and treats, offered cannabis-themed toys including plush and squeaky versions of pot leaves, spinach burritos and bongs.
Even organizations including advocacy groups and government agencies used 420 as a springboard for messaging campaigns and educational initiatives. While the ACLU promoted legalization, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Mothers Against Drunk Driving reminded people about the dangers of driving while impaired. Perhaps the most talked-about program came from the state where cannabis was first legalized — Colorado — that conducted an online auction for cannabis-themed vanity plates (raising funds for the Colorado Disability Funding Committee.) While “HERB” raised $2,800, “GANJA” $3,500 and “TEGRIDY” (a fictional Colorado cannabis farm from South Park) $4,930, the highest bid was $6,630 for “ISIT420”.