High-Minded: A Cannabis Capitalist's Guide to 420

April 20 is the biggest day on the cannabis calendar—the international pot-smoking holiday known as 420. Although the origin of 420 is appropriately hazy, most historians agree that the chronic chronology began in the early 1970s with some high school kids in San Rafael, California.

In previous years, cannabis enthusiasts celebrated 420 by traveling to states where recreational pot is legal—California, Colorado, Washington—for festivals, concerts, and public smoke outs, but the COVID-19 pandemic has seriously harshed America’s mellow.

The holiday is typically the largest cannabis sales day of the year—a Green Friday, if you will. Last April 20, Americans spent an estimated $90 million on cannabis, or three times the normal sales figures, according to research firm BDS Analytics. This year will be much different as states are still under lockdowns and everyone is staying home. Dispensaries are now relying on delivery services more than ever to serve customers while cannabis brands, and weed-friendly artists, whose events were canceled, will be holding virtual smoke-ins and other pot parties.

Whether you’re attending one of the myriad events online or just having a private puff at home, here's some cannabis-friendly stories for 420 2020.

Will Yakowicz

Will Yakowicz

Vices, Staff Writer

To stay in the loop on the fast-growing legal cannabis industry, bookmark the Forbes Vices channel.

Cannabis Dispensaries Deemed “Essential”

Despite most American businesses being temporarily closed during the pandemic lockdown, dispensaries in states such as California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Illinois and others were deemed “essential businesses” and allowed to stay open.

TP and THC
TP and THC

When states started instituting lockdowns and social distancing measures, panic buying set in for hand sanitizer and toilet paper. But people also started hoarding pot. Cannabis sales spiked by as much as 56% in California when officials announced a shelter-in-place.

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Weed Reads

Whether you’re a budding cannabis entrepreneur or just want to learn more about different pot strains, 420 is a good excuse to improve your cannabis library. If you’re a newbie who wants to know how to behave at a dispensary, pick up Higher Etiquette by Lizzie Post—great-great granddaughter of Emily Post. If you’re more interested in the underbelly of black market weed and its influence on society, business and law, delve into Eric Schlosser’s Reefer Madness. Here is a smart 420-friendly reading list.

High End Sweets
High End Sweets

If you’re looking for a more elegant alternative to homemade pot brownies, try serving Hervé cannabis-infused macarons. The handmade, delicate almond cookies sandwich buttercream and rich ganache and are brushed with 23 carat gold. The $19 treats (each box contains three macarons) come in three flavors, raspberry, chocolate, and salted caramel, and contain 10 mg. of THC.

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Kush But Don’t Touch

Cannabis may be legal in 11 states for adults over 21 (with 22 states allowing medical marijuana) but it remains illegal at the federal level, which means companies have a difficult time accepting credit and debit cards. One silver lining to the pandemic is that Calvia, a vertically integrated cannabis company that has partnered with music legend Jay-Z, launched a contactless, digital payment system for online orders.

Joe Biden Is Now 420-Friendly

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has long suggested that marijuana is a gateway drug. But now he appears to have changed his mind just in time for election season.

Remembering Charlotte Figi
Remembering Charlotte Figi

Charlotte Figi was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy as a little girl, afflicted by debilitating seizures every 30 minutes—and medication did not provide relief. Several years ago, her parents turned to medical marijuana as a last resort. At five, Charlotte started taking the non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol, or CBD. The oil extract reduced her seizures and she became the posterchild for medical cannabis, converting no less a skeptic than CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta. When Charlotte passed away at 13 in early April, Forbes contributor Katie Shapiro wrote a beautiful tribute that celebrated her everlasting impact on the cannabis world.

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The Art of Cannabis

You can’t go to the Museum of Modern Art or visit the Louvre, but you can still appreciate Emily Eizen’s cannabis-inspired art online. The California-born multimedia artist’s ’60s-influenced works have a psychedelic vibe that can brighten your days under quarantine.

Doggy Dope

Don’t forget that your four-legged friends could also partake in the 420 festivities by eating CBD-infused treats.

Bicycle Day 2020

While not strictly cannabis related, April 19 is known as Bicycle Day, a celebration of the first LSD trip in 1943. For anyone who celebrated yesterday, make sure to read about how New York-based company Mind Medicine Inc. is trying to develop LSD and other hallucinogenic substances into FDA-approved medications. As for the name, it commemorates April 19, 1943 when a chemist in Switzerland named Albert Hoffmann took a dose of lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD. As the psychedelic effects took hold, Hoffmann wrote in his journal: "Beginning dizziness, feeling of anxiety, visual distortions, symptoms of paralysis, desire to laugh." Then, he hopped on his bike and rode home.


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