4/20: Then & Now

According to Time Magazine, the 4/20 origin story traces back to 1971, when five students at San Rafael High School in Marin County, CA would meet at 4:20 p.m. each day to “smoke a doobie” by the campus’ statue of chemist Louis Pasteur. “420” soon became synonymous with cannabis use and is celebrated nationwide every April 20th.

That doobie in 1971 likely had a THC concentration of less than 2%. Today, cannabis sold in dispensaries average 18-23%. Cannabis extracts (waxes, dabs, oils) have potencies up to 80%. Methods of delivery such as edibles and vapes can increase the risk of misuse or accidental poisoning which is especially dangerous for children who might mistakenly consume edibles that look like snacks or candy. As with other substances, cannabis use affects the developing brain, specifically the areas involved in attention, memory, and decision-making, so reducing youth exposure is key.

This 4/20, adults aged 21+ can celebrate responsibly by knowing the potency of cannabis products being consumed, the potential risks of overconsumption, and keeping all cannabis products out of the reach of children.

For more information:

  • Vermont Department of Health’s Let’s Talk Cannabis provides science-based information on how cannabis affects bodies, minds, and health.
  • ParentUp offers resources and tips to help you provide supportive and effective guidance to your child around topics like substance use and mental wellness.
  • NIDA for Teens’ Facts on Marijuana offers facts about how drugs affect the brain and body. Featuring games, articles, and videos!
  • If you or a loved one is having problems with cannabis use, VT Helplink is a statewide, public resource for finding substance use treatment and recovery services in Vermont.


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