From the Editors: April 10, 2019
Turning over a new leaf
Timing is everything in journalistic practice, so we won't play coy with you — 4/20 falls within this issue span. Those digits, of course, are synonymous with cannabis culture, thanks to a group of Californian high school students who called themselves "the Waldos." The five Waldos, all athletes, regularly scheduled rendezvous in front of the Louis Pasteur statue at San Rafael High School at 4:20 p.m., after practice had ended. Their mission? To locate an abandoned cannabis crop a U.S. Coast Guard member had supposedly planted in nearby Point Reyes Forest. A couple of the Waldos also happened to have connections to the Grateful Dead (a father who managed their real estate, a brother who was friends with bassist Phil Lesh), a certain highly influential San Francisco jam band who often wrote and performed their music under the influence of cannabis. Nearly twenty years later in 1990, High Times reporter Steven Bloom encountered the term at a Dead concert and with his subsequent write-up, the whole world caught a whiff of the previously clandestine 420.
Of course, the '90s were also the decade when the idea of marijuana as medicine re-entered the mainstream with California's Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. Those suffering from grave and life-threatening chronic illnesses such as cancer and AIDS found that marijuana helped allay both the symptoms of their diseases and the serious side-effects of their treatments. As Ben Speggen recaps in this issue's "A Sticky Situation" feature, this was a direct affront to federal drug laws, which unambiguously declared marijuana illegal. In the ensuing decades, many more states have followed suit and instituted medical marijuana programs, including Pennsylvania in 2016.
Our state is fairly new to this, and everyone involved — patients, caretakers, growers, distributors, and law enforcement —
Coincidentally, Easter falls on the day after 4/20 this year and has been inviting us to refresh and renew our minds, bodies, and spirits for the past few millennia (Eostre, an ancient pagan tribute to the goddess of spring, predates Christianity — but also celebrated rebirth). The Reader encourages you to reconnect with friends, family, and the community, which remains fertile with opportunities and events to bond around. Things are starting to look a lot greener — and more hopeful in the Gem City.