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It's Time You Learned How 4/20 Became 'Weed Day'

Marijuana, or cannabis, has been used for at least 5,000 years and has an extensive history of traditional uses as an industrial material and a botanical medicine all throughout Asia, Africa, Europe and America. 

The tradition of April 20 as “Weed Day” has a much shorter history. According to CNN, the history of how “420” became the numerical representation of marijuana is shrouded in mystery and myth. The most credible origin of the story is that a group of California high school students in the 1970s used it as a code word for clandestine smoking sessions at 4:20 pm.

The term gained some local traction in California but gained a wider audience at a Grateful Dead concert held at the Oakland Coliseum on December 28, 1990. At this event, flyers were passed out promoting the smoking “420” on April 20 at 4:20 p.m. One of these flyers was reprinted by High Times magazine and the term quickly caught fire with the marijuana subculture. By the mid-1990s “420” was synonymous with marijuana. 

Marijuana has moved into the mainstream during the ensuing decades. The use of marijuana for medical purposes is now legal in 28 states. According to estimates, between 85 and 95 percent of Americans are in favor of medical cannabis, and nearly 60 percent support complete legalization of marijuana.

Despite this trend, many families are still unable, legally or otherwise, to obtain this herbal treatment. A major part of the problem lies at the federal level, where marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. To put it bluntly, marijuana is out of place in a category that is otherwise reserved for the most addictive and dangerous of drugs, including heroin and LSD. 

Tremendous progress has been made in recent years, but at the federal level marijuana has been viewed as a criminal issue with serious substance abuse implications for decades. Ironically, it is the grave scourge of opioid abuse that may finally drag it out of the shadows.

In 2014, more people died from drug overdoses than in any other year on record. More than 6 out of 10 of these deaths involved opioids. It’s clear that urgent action needs to be taken to fight the opioid epidemic, including finding safer, more effective options for pain relief. Medical marijuana, which has far fewer side effects and is effective for pain relief, fits the bill, and a new study will finally pit the two against each other to test marijuana’s potential as a replacement.

The term “medical marijuana” refers to the use of the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant and its pure extracts to treat a disease or improve a symptom. It must be sourced from a medicinal-grade cannabis plant that has been meticulously grown without the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers.

Marijuana’s curative properties come from its high cannabidiol (CBD) content and critical levels of medical terpenes and flavonoids. It also contains some tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the molecule that gives the psychoactive effect, which most recreational users are after. Through traditional plant breeding techniques and seed exchanges, growers have started producing cannabis plants that have higher levels of CBD and lower levels of THC for medical use.

Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved medical marijuana, more and more physicians are starting to reverse their stand on the issue and swear by its effectiveness and health benefits.
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