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Apr-20-2008 14:45TweetFollow @OregonNews
420: Marijuana Users Get Their Own HolidayTim King Salem-News.com
(SALEM, Ore.) - I remember first hearing about the 420 reference for marijuana when a friend of mine was traveling back and forth frequently between the U.S. and Russia, South Korea and New Zealand back in the early 90's. I just recall him telling us that it would come to represent the cannabis herb that is the center of so much attention around the world.
So what does it mean? Well, I think it is safe to say that it used to be a code for smoking pot. People would say, what time is it? The answer would frequently be "Well it's 4:20 of course."
Today it is still the same thing though to a lesser degree of secrecy. Earlier generations of Americans were told that marijuana would ruin their lives, that it was the devils weed and in earlier years Americans were told it was something that the "Mexicans" and the "blacks" used.
In fact it was William Randolph Hearst, a media mogul, who plotted with Dow and Dupont in ways to demonize and criminalize pot. They made sure lots of stories detailing the "demon weed" were published and then they bankrolled a movie called "Reefer Madness" that depicted marijuana as the most depraved substance to ever overtake our youth.
They told people, straight up, that marijuana was far worse than heroin. Today the federal government still maintains that marijuana is as bad as heroin or meth, as it places it in the exact same legal category.
Racism? Well they used marijuana to explain why Pancho Villa's soldiers behaved with rampant disregard for Americans during border raids.
They also often associated pot with the "depraved actions" of black people, mainly because the jazz scene in the 1920's and 1930's was very hip, as it continues to be today. It should be no secret that entertainers who were the cream of the crop of their day experimented or even regularly use it.
In fact, some of our jazz legends used marijuana and it didn't seem to damage the thinking abilities of the greats like Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. These great Americans were all busted for marijuana possession in their lives.
Then came the 60's, and the period of enlightenment and marijuana use really took hold. Marijuana has remained a regular staple of America's daily diet ever since.
When you are talking about marijuana and hemp, you are talking about the same plant. Let's get that straight. But the industrial hemp plant which grows wild today throughout the Midwest states as any Amtrak train rider who has passed through this area knows, does not get a person "high".
Hemp is grown for its stock, the strongest natural fiber known to man, and the THC count stays very low. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the active ingredient in pot that makes a person "high".
On the other hand, unlike hemp, marijuana grown to smoke has all the emphasis on the flower or "bud". The buds are dried, and that is what the user consumes. The bud is where the THC counts are concentrated.
So in other words, an agricultural scenario where marijuana could replace trees, does not mean fields of pot that high schoolers will raid, because all smoking industrial hemp brings is a headache.
One interesting thing anti-pot forces and police have said in recent years, is that "Marijuana is much stronger, far more potent than it used to be." This is not true, in spite of what any police officer or DEA agent might try to say.
Marijuana strains today are grown by people who do their homework, which often equates to a simple Internet search, and they learn some simple, sound techniques in growing.
In the 1970's most marijuana on the west coast was from Mexico, where the growers don't have the males separated from the females. The result is pot full of seeds that was not grown from a great seed to start with.
All I'm trying to say is that marijuana is not "different today" than it used to be, and mad scientists have not emerged from laboratories with some massively more powerful herb, it is as likely as the creation of ten pound apples. I'm sure that many of the growers would be very happy if any of these federal government points of view were true.
420 represents millions of Americans who say they dismiss the false government propaganda and have given up on the old ways of thinking. They are people who hope that some day they will not be thrown in jail for possessing a natural element placed on the earth by God himself, and cultivated by Mother Nature.
It is becoming increasingly clear that marijuana has almost countless medicinal applications for treating people who are sick, and it is the best natural fiber that grows on the earth; nothing is stronger than hemp. It can be used to replace unnatural plastics with natural elements. It makes paper and could be used in place of many trees that take ten years to produce what hemp will yield in one year.
But that is getting away from the point, I think. 420 isn't about rope or medical movements, it is just a simple slogan that has become an advertising prop for pot.
Since the national media is playing along and making it the subject of stories, I thought it was proper that Salem-News.com, the only news source in the world that has a medical marijuana doctor on staff to answer questions from patients, should fill in a few blanks too.
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