This Saturday will be the 20th of April, or 4/20. It will be a day for Earth Day, to appreciate Mother Earth, and treat her lovingly, a day to speak up about environmental issues; and a day to smoke marijuana. That’s right: Stoners, hippies, users, dope heads-however you refer to them-have chosen the 20th of April as their own holiday. The word on the street is that 420 was, or is, the code police officers use to report drug “busts” and that’s how April 20th came to be the day to “smoke doja”. Various companies have used “420” on t-shirts, stickers, hats, and other accessories in recent years, obviously promoting the use of marijuana in order to make a buck. “420” is everywhere, even here in Cheney. I decided to go bong water deep into the drug culture of Eastern and find out how 420 affects our small-town campus.
I ventured to a small part of Cheney known as “Chinglewood” (named after Inglewood, a neighborhood in Los Angeles notorious for its high amount of gang activity). As I stepped into the apartment of a self-proclaimed “stoner,” I notice that the only thing out of the ordinary is the amount of people in the living room. The actual apartment seems relatively normal, as if a person who didn’t do drugs might even live there. The tenants of the apartment seemed quite ordinary too, not like the monsters I would expect them to be. After I settled in, I decided to start the interview. I asked them what “420” meant to each of them. One person stated that April 20 was a “weird” day, containing Earth day, Hitler’s birthday, and the anniversary of the Columbine shooting all on one Saturday. This was news to me, and I started to wonder if there might be some conspiracy going on right under our noses that might one day blow up in our faces. But anyhow, the rest of the “stoners” said that April 20 was just an excuse to get really “high” because ‘millions of people around the world’ were also celebrating the unofficial holiday. When I inquired about how many people would be celebrating 420 in the Cheney area, the group named off several different groups of people that could probably represent about a third of the campus. One young man told me that 420 is “a common bond between cultures that brings diverse groups together” before conversation started to sway from the interview to talk of drag queens and drug busts.
My visit to “Chinglewood” was one that opened my eyes and made me aware of “420”, and what it really means. It’s a holiday with deep roots that go to the core of the human experience, a holiday celebrated by Americans throughout the nation. It’s a holiday for the large group of our people known affectionately as “stoners” and it doesn’t seem to be fading out any time soon.