Editor’s note: Some individuals requested to not be named in this article, changed names will be indicated with an asterisk.
April 20, typically referred to as 4/20, is well-known for celebrating marijuana and the culture around using it.
There are many ideas behind how 4/20 got its name, like 420 being police code for marijuana smoking in progress or that it was a penal code for laws prohibiting marijuana.
However, according to Vox, the most credible story behind the name starts at San Rafael High School in Marin County, California. In 1971, a group of five students would meet by the campus’ statue of Louis Pasteur at 4:20 p.m. to smoke marijuana.
Later a member of the friend group worked with the Grateful Dead and the band is said to have popularized the term “420” as a term for marijuana. In 1990, a group Grateful Dead fans passed out fliers encouraging people to smoke”420” on April 20 at 4:20 p.m. and word spread leading to the national pseudo-holiday many people know today.
Diana Argueta, a junior graphic design major, said she uses marijuana as a way to relieve boredom and stress.
She said marijuana can help her with several things.
“It helps me go to sleep because I work late so I have a bit of insomnia, sometimes it helps with my creative flow for my artwork and to pass time,” Argueta said.
As a student leader, Argueta said the stigma behind smoking is something she has encountered.
“I think that it’s funny, because when people first find out that I smoke, everyone gets surprised,” Argueta said.
She said she hears things like, “you don’t look like you smoke,” “but you’re so involved, how do you have the energy to do so much” and “but you’re a student leader.”
Argueta said smoking marijuana should not be viewed as something taboo.
“These are things that still can be done even when someone does smoke,” Argueta said. “Smoking should be viewed as any other hobby, not as a taboo.”
Abigal Atkinson*, a senior psychology major, said she began smoking marijuana in 7th grade but became and more active smoker while in college.
“I smoke weed as a way to de-stress from school and work plus a lot of my friends smoke too,” Atkinson said. “Also, I have depression and bipolar so it’s helped me relax most of the time.”
She said marijuana has helped her with her mental health and expanding her mindset.
“For the most part, I feel like weed has helped me a lot from having mental breakdowns,” Atkinson said. “Plus, it’s a good way to treat myself after a long day of studying/working. And I’ve became more open-minded and unbiased of others.”
Burt Burns*, a sophomore digital media technology, said he began smoking in between 8th grade and his freshman year of high school and he does not believe that was an appropriate time to begin smoking.
“It’s too young if you want to smoke marijuana wait until you’re of age or use it in moderation because it has serious ramifications to brain development,” Burns said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend use of marijuana as a teen and says it can lead to a decline in performance at school, an increased risk of mental health issues, impaired driving and potential for addiction.
Burns said he does see benefits to smoking marijuana at an appropriate age, however.
“For me personally, I have pretty bad anxiety so it helps ground me so I can get done what I need to get done,” Burns said. “I know other people who use it to aid in eating or sleeping as well.”
Use of marijuana became legal in Illinois in January of 2020. Illinois is one of the 17 states that has legalized recreational use of marijuana.
Charleston opened its first dispensary December of 2020.
Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]