Why this year’s 420 is going to be the biggest yet

Cannabis. Chronic. Dope. Ganja. Grass. Hash. Herb. Reefer. Pot. Weed.

Known by many names, marijuana is by far the most commonly used drug in the United States. And with growing accessibility through legalization, this year’s celebration of cannabis on 4/20 is set to be the biggest yet.

Cashing in on Cannabis

Right now, legal marijuana is the fastest-growing industry in the United States.

According to a report published by Arcview Market Research, legal cannabis sales in North America reached $6.9 billion in 2016, a 30% jump from 2015. And the market is expected to grow to $21.6 billion by the year 2021, with a 26% compound annual rate.

Why? Because the legalization of marijuana has accelerated in the United States over the course of recent years.

Eight states have already legalized recreational cannabis, while cannabis for medical use is now legal in 28 states.

Map of states where medical marijuana is legal

Medicinal marijuana decreases prescription medication use

As of March 1, 2016, there are an estimated 2,604,079 medical marijuana users nationwide.

The drug is sometimes recommended for conditions including chronic pain, anxiety, or depression. And research shows that in the states where medicinal marijuana is legalized, there have been reports that opioid use has declined among Medicare participants.  

Medical ganja is proving to be a viable clinical alternative to prescription painkillers, according to researchers.

As more states legalize cannabis for either medical or recreational use, marijuana could become larger than the organic food industry.

And that’s a very good thing for the 60% of Americans who now favor marijuana legalization and may be celebrating 4/20 this year.

A brief history of the holiday that is 420

April 20 is universally known as a national holiday for cannabis culture, though few know exactly why and how the date got chosen.

The most credible story leads us to Marin County, California. In 1971, five students at San Rafael High School would reportedly meet at 4:20 p.m. by the campus’s statue of chemist Louis Pasteur to have a smoke session. A brother of a group member supposedly knew Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, so the band is said to have helped make the term popular, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

On Dec. 28, 1990, Deadheads, a.k.a Grateful Dead groupies, handed out flyers reportedly inviting people to smoke “420” on April 20 at 4:20 p.m in Oakland. The High Times magazine publication published the flyer in 1991 and continued to reference the number.

Soon after, 4/20 became known globally for its association with marijuana.

An industry with fast fading stigma that isn’t slowing down anytime soon

With more doctors who can prescribe medical marijuana, dispensaries as common as coffee shops, countless companies investing, chronic conventions, and research to back up pot’s medical benefits, it seems likely April 20 celebrations will be getting bigger and bigger.

It’s apparent marijuana is losing whatever stigma it ever had, and still has, in many parts of the country.

Heck, there’s even a college now for budding weed entrepreneurs.

Elara Mosquera
Elara Mosquera

ELARA MOSQUERA IS A JOURNALIST BASED IN CONNECTICUT. SHE SPECIALIZES IN IMMERSIVE JOURNALISM, AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT, AND HAS AN EXTENSIVE BACKGROUND IN TRENDING DIGITAL NEWS. ELARA IS AN EDWARD R. MURROW AWARD WINNING PRODUCER, AS WELL AS AN EMMY NOMINATED PRODUCER. ELARA IS AN IKO LEVEL 3 CERTIFIED KITEBOARDER AND AN AVID MBSR (MINDFULNESS BASED STRESS REDUCTION) PRACTITIONER.