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‘420 Day’: Events surround annual celebration

If you notice that slackers are conspicuously absent from the office Tuesday, look at the calendar for a clue as to why: It is, after all, “420,” the national high holiday for marijuana enthusiasts.

Whether advocating for pot legalization or just taking a day to wake, bake and repeat, “Marijuana Appreciation Day” has turned into an unofficial day of reflection for pot smokers.

Among the major events commemorating the day is a daylong rally at Denver’s Civic Center Park calling for marijuana legalization, as well as an unauthorized public smoke-out on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder that is expected to draw thousands. There is also a large annual gathering at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where thousands get together at 4:20 on April 20 for a giant smoke-out.

The origins of the holiday vary, including suggestions that it’s tied to the penal-code violation in California for marijuana possession or to the amount of chemicals in pot plants, though urban myth has it springing from a group of 1970s teenage potheads in San Rafael, Calif, called the Waldos who would gather at the same statue every day at 4:20 p.m. to get high.

The term began to catch on in the 1990s and has since become shorthand for lighting up, even popping up in movies like “Pulp Fiction,” where all the clocks are set to 4:20.

The latest 420 Day comes as a new poll from The Associated Press and CNBC found that 55 percent of Americans oppose marijuana legalization while 33 percent support it, though the figures were very different for those under 30, where 54 percent favored legalization to 39 against.

The site CelebStoner.com has listed a number of events celebrating the day, including shows by Snoop Dogg in New York (at the Fillmore), Cypress Hill in San Francisco (at the Warfield), Willie Nelson in Topeka, Kansas (at the Topeka Performing Arts Center) and Sublime with Rome in Los Angeles (at the Palladium).

Not at all coincidentally, Cypress Hill’s latest, Rise Up is slated for release on Tuesday, along with new ones from fellow weed-thusiasts the Kottonmouth Kings, Devin the Dude and Nelson.

There is also a “420” celebration in Los Angeles that will feature a silent plant auction, music from DJ Crash, cultivation lectures, performances, comedy and music from Lunell, Red Spanky Hayes and others. Milton, Washington will host the Seattle Hempfest 420 Members’ Social at the Cedarwood Dome & Hookah Lounge, described as a 21+ “member’s only evening of music and discussion about the origins of 420, the cultural significance of the number, and the future of cannabis in modern society.”

There are also screenings of the “Phish 3D” movie in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C., and a 420 Film Fest in Calgary, Alberta, which last year honored such cinematic triumphs as “Johnny Appleweed,” “Blaze” and “400 Bowls.”

The day’s activity – which happens to coincide with Adolf Hitler’s birthday – comes at a time when medical marijuana use has been approved in 14 states, including Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Vermont, Rhode Island and New Jersey.

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