By: Leland Rucker

Originally a protest against draconian drug laws, the cannabis-centric holiday 4/20 has evolved into a cannabis celebration. Ten years ago, 4/20 events were protests. However, after states like Colorado and Washington began legalizing cannabis for adult use in 2012, many others have also begun allowing adults to purchase and use cannabis legally. A recent Pew Research poll found that 9 in 10 Americans currently support legalizing cannabis for medical use. 

Boulder, Colorado exemplifies 4/20’s transformation from protest to celebration. For years, its 4/20 protests received national attention. The University of Colorado, which never sanctioned the event, would be packed with thousands of protesters, while police and media aircraft buzzed overhead. Beginning at 4:20pm, a great cloud of smoke would rise over the quad as the masses cheered and coughed their approval. Five minutes later, while bored officers watched from the edges, it was over. 

A few times, the University turned on water sprinklers to disperse the crowd. One year it deposited nasty-smelling fish entrails on the grass in the quad to discourage people from entering the campus.Since then, Boulder has legalized cannabis sales and protests are no more. These days, local businesses in Boulder celebrate the holiday in Denver. But Boulder still doesn’t allow any places for people to consume cannabis, so there’s still work to be done.

Not all states have legalized recreational or medicinal cannabis. Celebrating 4/20 in one of those could still be considered an act of protest. We celebrate with patrons across all states who balk at the prohibitive, politically motivated War on Drugs. This year, roll the perfect joint and let the celebrations (and the protests) begin!