By Jordan Bentle
Even though the Trump Administration is creating a lot of confusion as to what their next moves will be in terms of Federal Marijuana enforcement, the cannabis industry steams ahead. 420, or "The High Holiday" has changed over the years as cannabis has come into the mainstream and out of the shadows. Cannabis enthusiasts across the world are celebrating. Here in Denver, the 420 Rally is forecasted to be the biggest ever with event organizers expecting upwards of 50,000 people in Civic Center Park where artist 2 Chainz will be performing later in the day. Even Uber has partnered with the event organizers to offer discounts on rides so people don’t smoke and drive.
The holiday has become the official holiday for cannasseurs, activists, and enthusiasts alike. Many people assume this day originated around the police code for when smoking the devils lettuce was in progress, but they would be assuming wrong.
4/20 started in 1971 in San Rafael, California (of course). A group of friends that dubbed themselves the “Waldos” in San Rafael High School met at a local spot at their school, 4:20-Louis, where they would smoke and embark on a search for an abandoned grow, complete with a treasure map that was drawn by the grower. After several failed trips to find the grow, they shortened the term to just “420” and would use it anytime they would smoke. Allowing them to be discreet, and none would be the wiser.
The holiday evolved over the years and permeated into the Grateful Dead culture which also had some connections to San Rafael as well, and helped drive the popularity of the term even further.
The term is now ubiquitous with smoking and is used on everything from Craigslist Ads advertising “420-Friendly” roommates and living situations, to Tinder and other dating apps to hopefully swipe right on other cannabis users.
As cannabis has continued to grow (pun intended) in mainstream popularity, we are starting to see the signs of normalization. The last two years Totino’s has run localized billboards in Denver to “Stock Up B420,” and guerilla street team marketing by handing out small samples of Totino’s pizza rolls outside music venues and cannabis events. They upped the ante this year with "Better When Baked" campaign with hilarious video ads. Totino’s is owned by General Mills and someone clearly understands getting ahead of the game as cannabis goes mainstream is going to help drive sales. I don’t even eat Totino’s Pizza Rolls, but these ads make me want some.
The cannabis industry still has some ways to go before huge public campaigns are implemented by the biggest companies in the world, but we are beginning to see companies recognizing the value of buyers who could provide a boost to their bottom line. Not just looking at them as stoners, but as legitimate buyer personas that will respond to the right messaging, at the right time.