• Mimi Mays

4/20 Hits Different in 2020


Image courtesy of Know Your Meme

Today, the twentieth of April, otherwise known as 4/20, is regarded internationally as a cultural holiday for marijuana users. The name itself has multiple speculated points of origin, from the assertion that marijuana contains 420 chemicals, to the rumored police code “420” for marijuana possession, or the most common tale: that the kids who coined the term would meet every day at 4:20 p.m. to go search for a rumored weed garden. Depending on the U.S. state, this “holiday” could just involve the enthusiastic use of a legal recreational drug, or it could mean engaging in potentially illegal activity – the possession of marijuana is at best a misdemeanor in the state of North Carolina and penalties vary based on intent and amount. No matter the place and the accompanying legality, 4/20 will look quite different this year for participants everywhere. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the typical custom of gathering together on 4/20 to light up is unwise, if not illegal because of stay-at-home orders. 4/20-themed events as big as rallies and festivals have been canceled in response to stay-at-home orders across the country. However, the economic impact of the pandemic on the cannabis industry is far more complicated than a single day of canceled 4/20 events. Similar to the success of DoorDash or Uber Eats in the food service industry, weed services designed for as little contact as possible are thriving. A “next-day weed delivery service” in the San Francisco Bay area, The Flower Co., has reported business increases of up to 100% since the beginning of social distancing. According to the Los Angeles Times, the business saw immediate growth starting on March 16, which was day one of the state’s stay-at-home order, reportedly due to panic buying. Then, within a week of the order, companies like The Flower Co. and other dispensaries were declared “essential” businesses in the state of California and are now seeing steady business. However, other entrepreneurs in the cannabis world have not been so fortunate. The state of Massachusetts denied a bid for recreational marijuana stores to be considered “essential” businesses. One unnamed business has even sued for the rights to remain open, claiming that the continuing sales of liquor and medical marijuana should include recreational sales. However, Mass. Governor Charlie Baker fears that allowing recreational sales would lure in out-of-state buyers and catalyze the spread of COVID-19. The impact on the industry is not only uncertain for recreational marijuana sales but for medical marijuana sales as well. Most patients are part of a more vulnerable population. Some states, including Illinois and Maryland, are allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to remain open but requiring curbside pick-up. However, this has not been universally adopted, and home delivery is still slow to grow in the medical marijuana industry. Though the success of the industry varies from state to state, it should be noted that smoking or vaping of any kind is suspected to increase the risk of COVID-19 complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And if recreational marijuana users do choose to celebrate 4/20, it will be from the comfort of their own homes this year. By Mimi Mays, Editor in Chief

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