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What is 4/20 day and how will cannabis consumers be celebrating?

4/20 is an important day in the calendars of many cannabis patients and consumers.



What is 4/20 day and how will cannabis consumers be celebrating?
4/20 is marked globally, with events and protests held in many major cities.

Today, 20 April – or 4/20 day – will see cannabis consumers all over the world celebrating the plant, but why is it significant and how can you play a part?

Sometimes dubbed as the “Christmas of cannabis”, over the years 20th April – 4/20 – has become a monumental day in the calendars of many consumers.

Although the origins of 4/20 day are not exactly clear, Steve Hager, former editor of High Times, reportedly told the New York Times in 2009 that it originated in the 1970s, from a group of California teenagers who would meet up to consume cannabis together at 4.20pm every afternoon.

Now the phenomenon is marked globally, with events and protests held in many major cities.

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In London, 4/20 Hyde Park has become an annual tradition which sees thousands descend on the park to consume cannabis openly.

This year is no different and the event is scheduled to take place roughly between 12pm and 6pm with anyone welcome to attend. 

Medical cannabis has been legal in the UK since 2018, but only three prescriptions have been issued on the NHS.

Many cannabis patients will be using it as an opportunity to lobby for wider access, alongside hopes for decriminalisation and the full legalisation of adult-use cannabis.

While some reports suggest police are ‘relaxed’ it’s worth remembering that cannabis is illegal in the UK, unless you have a medical prescription, in which instance this must be vaped rather than smoked. 

A look at 4/20 today

The landscape today is very different to the 1970s, when the term 4/20 is thought to have been coined, particularly in the US where adult use of cannabis is now legal in around 20 states.

Cannabis use is up among the general US population, with 18 per cent of Americans reporting cannabis purchasing in the last three months, up from 10 per cent in 2020. 

According to a new report from industry experts, Brightfield Group, just under half of cannabis consumers in the US actively celebrate 4/20, although 89 per cent are aware of it. 

Although we don’t have a legal recreational market yet in the UK, industry expert and cannabis scientist, Dr Callie Seaman, says the occasion is an opportunity for the cannabis community to come together and for patients to be open and unashamed about their choice of medication.

“Although we only have a legal medicinal market at the moment in the UK, there’s still a large community of cannabis consumers, made up of everyday people from all walks of life, and this community has been around for decades, if not centuries,” says Seaman, a medical cannabis patient herself for over 20 years.

“A lot of people are fighting for freedom – 4/20 is a day for patients to be proud and no longer ashamed, to stand up and be open about how they choose to medicate.”

How do consumers plan to celebrate?

A poll shared on our social media pages revealed that the majority of Cannabis Health readers would be marking the occasion at home, with only around 20 per cent heading to an in-person event.

According to Brightfield, the top three ways consumers in the US plan to celebrate is by taking advantage of dispensary deals, consuming more cannabis than usual at home or watching a ‘stoner’ movie.

Interestingly, the company reports that it is women who are more likely to celebrate 4/20 than men, and they are even more likely to spend – with 47 per cent of female cannabis users planning to partake in dispensary deals on the day.

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But while brands might be jumping on the bandwagon to utilise the opportunity for promotions, the real significance of 4/20 is the sense of belonging it creates among consumers.

Seaman believes the industry can learn a lot from this community.

“I think 4/20 is really a demonstration of the difference between the cannabis community and the cannabis industry,” she continues.

“An industry is just about profit, whereas the community understands that 4/20 is about helping one another and supporting one another.”

Seaman adds: “I think there’s a lot we can learn from the community as an industry.”

How are you celebrating 4/20? Let us know and tag us in your photos on instagram @cannabishealthmag and Twitter @CannabisHNews


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Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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