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Mace and Crown | May 25, 2018

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Cannabis Culture: The History and Influence of 420

T.J. Thompson | Staff Writer

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Gates, Carl Sagan, and Martha Stewart are highly respected for the contributions they have made to society and culture. “Lazy,” “dumb” and “pothead” are terms which have been used as stereotypes for one uniting activity in which they participate.

These people have admitted to consuming marijuana. They have also reached for and touched the stars in their respective careers.

Six NBA championships and Most Valuable Player awards along with 19 NBA All-Star appearances do not make it appear as though Abdul-Jabbar was lazy. He elevated his game to the next level.

Medical marijuana now helps in dealing with his migraines. Abdul-Jabbar has been arrested previously for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. His contributions to the sports world make him a cultural icon.

$86.5 billion and being recognized as the richest person in the world for 18 out of the past 23 years (according to Forbes Magazine) makes Bill Gates stand out, even among the elite. His computer programming skills have aided in evolving how humans communicate, creating the information age.

Not only has Gates contributed to the cultures of the privileged in developed nations, his foundation is recognized as one of the most reputable across the globe. From education to vaccinations, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is able to pitch in where governments fail their constituents.

One area where Gates has stepped up when his own U.S. government has failed is in marijuana legalization. He supported his home state of Washington in passing its recreational marijuana initiative. Gates sees the social experiments of marijuana legalization as cultural progress.

With his head in the cosmos, it is only logical that astronomer Carl Sagan was an avid pothead. Sagan has made contributions to human culture so influential, he chaired the NASA committee which selected the items to be included in the Voyager space capsule. These items are intended to share a snapshot of culture on Earth if alien beings are able to intercept and interpret the contents.

Writing under the nom de plume Mr. X, Sagan authored an essay on his cannabis experiences. Although his initial experiences with the plant had no effects upon him, he eventually reached a euphoric state and explored his consciousness while high. He was also known to use marijuana to aid in concentration when working on his more mainstream writings.


As one who upholds cultural experiences and teachings to the highest standards, Martha Stewart is revered for her knowledge on being the perfect host with excellent manners. She served a prison term for conspiracy obstruction and making false statements, still being accepted by the public upon her release.

Being one of the most successful women in media and manners, Stewart has proven she is no slouch. Her support of weed can be seen in her current co-host role with Snoop Dogg on “Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party,” which will air a marathon on VH1 on 4/20.

The date of 4/20 is significant because this day is recognized as the highest of holidays in cannabis culture. The origins of the number 420 and its cultural significance are steeped in college and underground culture.

One legend states this is the time a group of college buds would gather together after classes were completed for the day and light up their ganja. Huffington Post reported it originated with a meeting in The Lot of a Grateful Dead show scheduled for 4:20 on 4/20.

Another legend states that 4/20 is the best time to plant marijuana to be harvested in the fall. This is a date which typically occurs after the last frost of the winter, something which would damage outdoor marijuana plants.

Regardless the origins of the cultural significance of the number 420 in the cannabis community, it’s an excellent day to enjoy some euphoria and peace–two things associated with marijuana.

If you’re looking to celebrate the high holiday legally, Washington, D.C. is hosting the National Cannabis Festival in the parking lot of RFK Stadium on 4/22 from noon to 8 p.m. Tickets are $35 for adults 21 years of age and older. There will be lectures, food, vendors and music. Festival headliners include Talib Kweli and Pharcyde.