Informed High - Becoming Informed about Cannabis

Not the 4/20 You Expected: COVID-19 and Cannabis Celebrations

The 4/20 Protest and Celebration

With an origin story starting around 1971 in California, 4/20 is now a term known worldwide. What started out as an after-work time celebration, became so much more over time. Now, 4/20 is the annual celebration and protest for stoners of all types.

Today is April 20th, the official national holiday for stoners around the globe. Normally, my hometown of Vancouver would be throwing a massive protest celebration on this day. With vendors selling their less-than-legal cannabis products of all kinds. From accessories to plants to dried flower, edibles, and infused-drinks.

The bloom of smoke hovering over the event lasts the entire day. This massive cloud becomes especially dramatic as 4:20 arrives after a busy and bustling day. With live music, plenty of entertainment, and more weed than you could ever want, 4/20 is a day for stoners. Others prefer to stay away from the crowds and enjoy getting high with friends and families. Whatever it is you usually do, likely it’s different from the reality of today.

How Things have Changed

This won’t be the 4/20 most of us would want to have. It sucks to lose things that are important to us, and all of us are experiencing this loss right now. For stoners who get high on any day, no matter the date, this one is still special. This day is one for reflection, for appreciating what this protest meant and what it will mean moving forward. Cannabis is now legal in Canada, many US states, and is coming to a growing number of countries like Mexico. 4/20 protests are still very much active, although many consumers prefer the celebration side of today.

Whether you were hoping to join a protest, party, or just spend some special time with the important people in your life, that plan is likely long-gone by now. Most of us will be spending this much anticipated 4/20 celebration in a way we never could have imagined only five months ago. Being the year 2020, stoners around the world were especially delighted by the prospect of a 4/20 month (at least in American ordering), and an extra-special 4/20/20 for the rest of us.

The COVID-19 Impact

4/20 Events have long been canceled now. Cannabis consumers are being encouraged to adapt behaviours to fit these socially distanced times. No events are happening today. People won’t be sharing massive joints and passing around bongs. Given the situation, this is obviously for the best. Instead of getting to spend this landmark day how we would have liked, we are now likely forced to spend it from home. It sucks that we won’t be able to light-up with our buddies or strangers in the streets.

Many things suck about COVID-19 and 2020 so far, including the over 2-million infected and over 160,000 dead. The economic impact has been a crushing blow for people in nearly every country. We may have far less money in our bank accounts than we would have imagined while making our new-year’s resolutions.

Flexible Behavior

These trying times have forced us to adapt. We have no commute to complain about, we now have cabin-fever and toilet paper shortages to worry about. We may have to cook more than ever and spend far more time isolated than we’d like. The challenges of COVID-19 are forcing us to adapt our behavior, for better and for worse.

There is a lot of bad news out there, and a lot of things looking worse and worse. I don’t want to focus on that since it is a holiday, after all. Instead, I want to highlight how we can encourage better flexibility in our behaviours around cannabis. I want to focus on some of the benefits of this unique situation. I want to provide encouragement to adjust our mindset and develop a growth mindset.

Being flexible in our behavior means increasing our ability to adapt to environmental demands. While we may not get to do what we want exactly, we can improve our ability to alter our actions according to the moment. This would be like doing bodyweight exercises at home because our gym is closed or it’s raining outside. Or face-timing a friend when we can’t meet them in person.

What we all need this 4/20

Everyone’s situation is unique, with some sitting bored at home all day, while others work non-stop to save lives or help bring food to our tables. I think it’s fair to say that 2020 has been a stressful year so far. So with that in mind, I think we all need some stress-relief. Many of us need some more social interactions in our lives, or at least to feel connected to others. We could also probably use some laughter, smiles, and a distraction.

Even with these extreme circumstances, we can find ways to meet these needs. At least as best as we can. The alternative to adapt what it is that we decide we need. We may be craving social interactions, but may isolated self-reflection may do us some good. Shifts in our mindset like this one that can make a big impact on how we feel when we wake up tomorrow.

Change your Mindset

This 4/20 won’t be the one you probably want. If you haven’t had time to feel sad about that, I think this morning is a perfectly reasonable time to feel our loss. It’s ok to be sad and to miss out on what we can’t have. Allow yourself to experience this sadness and thoughts that arise. Combine this with coffee, journaling, meditation, stretching, or a walk, and you have what you need for a productive morning. Allow yourself to be sad for a few minutes or an hour, then accept that it is time to change.

It’s ok to feel the ways you do, but you also control your actions. And on this particular day, I encourage us all to take this control into our hands. Attempt to accept that the current circumstances are what they are. You cannot change the situation, but you can change your mindset. After grieving what you’ve lost, it’s time to focus on what you have, and the opportunities in front of you. You may have lost out on celebrations, protests, and good hangouts. You may have also been given something you didn’t expect, room to grow.

Growing this 4/20

Just because you can’t do what you want to, doesn’t mean you can’t do something similar. If you’re missing out on your protest, take the protest online. If you wanted a party, find a video-platform and invite your friends to join. If you wanted to buy some infused-treat, today might be the day to learn how to make it yourself. It may not be in the way we wanted, but this 4/20 is a chance for growth. It may be a time for increasing our comfort level with being alone. It is time to take full responsibility for our daily activities and our homes.

After you’ve had your coffee and experienced some sadness, do something productive. Take control of your 4/20 and do something that will make you feel good. Clean your house (or your glassware), get some exercise, read a book, and eat a healthy meal. If these things sound brutally painful for you, then maybe it’s time to consider what the impact would be on your life if you stopped resisting and started going with the flow.

A Flexible 4/20

Today will be a day when flexibility is needed. As mentioned above, find healthy activities to substitute for the ones you are missing out on. Even better, adapt and find new ways to take your day into your hands. Maybe you aren’t used to smoking alone, so wouldn’t today be a great day to celebrate the start of your journey of personal self-acceptance and growth? Maybe today is the day you commit to new actions while baked. Replace that one activity, like video games or movies, with something new. Go for a long walk alone while baked if you can. Or just stare out your window and spend time appreciating all the things you do have.

What do we have to celebrate?

We may feel like the celebration is dead. Maybe it just transformed into something new. There are so many things to celebrate once we go beneath the surface a bit. Many of us can now smoke legally and without persecution. We can buy legal weed from stores with regular operating hours. We may be stuck at home, but we have more communication technology available to us than ever before. Spend some time today asking what you personally have to celebrate, and then spend some time doing just that.

Inspiration for Today

All of our situations are unique. Some of us may be getting high after a long day of work, while others may spend a long day at home wondering how to fill the time. Regardless of our situation, we can all create something positive by shifting our mindset, encouraging growth, and committing to action. Here are a few ideas for your self-isolated 4:20

  • Develop your healthy high habits: exercise, cooking healthy food, cleaning)
  • Develop yourself: practice self-reflection and journaling, become comfortable being alone)
  • Develop flexibility: find new actions that support your goals under the circumstances)
  • Be Grateful: if you’re healthy, have a roof over your head, and have some weed, you have something to be grateful for in your life)
  • Be Kind: be kind to those you communicate with online, and be kind to yourself. We all could use a little more personal compassion)
  • Take action: just because you can’t protest outside, doesn’t mean you can’t do it online)
  • Blaze alone: develop your tolerance for solitude, and use this chance to find value in your life)
  • Reflect on what is essential: with so many things taken away, ask yourself what you miss and why? Is cannabis essential in your life, and how does this align with your local regulations and laws)

Final Thoughts

This will be a 4/20 unlike any other we experience in our lifetime. The problems feel huge, and our worlds feel small. Yet for those of us who are healthy and have some buds, I think today is worth celebrating. Treat this 4/20 like New Year’s. Reflect on your life and what it is that you value. Take action and adapt your behavior to real-world demands. And finally, make sure you safely get high and take some time to de-stress throughout these crazy times. Happy 4/20!


Arnold Warkentin


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