The Thriving Spirit Of 4/20: Celebrations from Hippie Hill to Parliament Hill

4/20 has been synonymous with cannabis for years. Whether it’s the time of day or a whole day annually, stoners unite for the greater cannabis cause. Around the globe, cannabis patients and aficionados alike will gather, but each year sets new precedents!

Approximately 20,000 people gather on Hippie Hill in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to celebrate Marijuana on 4/20: National Weed Day, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F.Examiner)

This year’s 4/20 celebrations in California mark the historic legalization of recreational cannabis. After a long journey, cannabis consumers can finally feel comfortable with their lifestyle and share their passion with their community, free from persecution. This year also marks the fiftieth anniversary of a revolutionary time in cannabis history, The Summer of Love in 1967. That year marked a huge influx of hippies and other freethinkers to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. The culture of acceptance and love present was the perfect stage for cannabis consumption. Many would gather in Golden Gate Park to get high and come together as a community in an area that became known as Hippie Hill.

Though that summer is long over, the spirit of 1967 carries on, particularly on the day of April 20th, when thousands flock to Hippie Hill to partake in and celebrate cannabis consumption. There is no official date for when this awesome celebration began, though the early seventies seems a good estimation, as the term “4/20” was coined in San Rafael in 1971. People come from all over the country to participate, and with California’s recreational legalization of cannabis in January 2017, this year is going to be the biggest celebration yet. It’s lovely to see the dreams of those that came before us being actualized, and that a smoke-out on Hippie Hill is still a part of San Francisco tradition.

Girl with Headband by Dennis Maness

While Hippie Hill was one of the first, Golden Gate Park isn’t the only place you’ll find people coming together on 4/20; many communities around the globe have their own events. For instance, Porter College in Santa Cruz has an annual 4/20 celebration that has become a huge campus event, and even a rite of passage of sorts. Professors turn a blind eye as student eyes get red in a meadow near the campus. There’s also the Denver 420 Rally, an event thrown to promote education and regulation of cannabis in Colorado. It is held partially in memory of one of Colorado’s most infamous cannabis activists, Ken Gorman, whose passion and dedication paved the way for legalization in Colorado.

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Internationally, there’s a huge event called 420 Vancouver, held in British Columbia and best described as a protest celebration. Thousands gather to hear speakers, participate in an open-air cannabis market and get stoned together. Initially organized with the help of Marc Emery (activist and current political prisoner of the U.S.), this year marks the 22nd anniversary of the festival. In Ottawa, another group gathers on parliament hill to promote cannabis legalization, as well as educate the public on policy—all while having a great time. Legalization is on the horizon, with legislation to legalize recreational cannabis pending introduction in spring of 2017. Across the sea in Amsterdam, people gather on 4/20 to enjoy cannabis as a community with a focus on the social aspect of cannabis, as consumption is legal in the Netherlands.

No matter where you are this 4/20, take a minute and celebrate. Party hard if it’s legal where you are, educate and advocate if it’s not, but no matter what—just get high. And don’t forget to light one for all the stoners who came before us.

Main Sources

History of Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco. Sax, Richard. Salem Press Encyclopedia, January, 2016. Article Derived from: “History of Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco.” America’s Historic Sites. Salem Press. 2015. (Photo Archives)

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