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4/20 Day: A Brief Truthy History Of Weed, Maaaan…

Updated: Mar 12, 2023

From ancient China to…I dunno, I forget…

Public domain, Wikimedia Commons. "She Shoulda Said No!" (1949)

It’s 4/20 Day! Stop whatever you’re doing at 4:20pm, or 4:20am if you’re really dedicated, and mellow out, show the world that reefer smokers are way nicer people than drunks, and really, really piss off Americans where it’s still not federally legal yet. Ha ha, with Mexico (sort of) legalized now the U.S. is sandwiched between us and them! Exhale north, nuestros amigos! Exhale south, nos amis!

Here’s a brief history of weed, from those tuned-in stoners in early China to the turned-on Canadians (Hey, that’s us!) of the present day — 04/20 2022!

10,000 B.C.: (Before Cannabis) The Chinese are, thus far, the most likely first humans to discover and use weed. Beginning with the Middle Holocene Age, the Chinese left evidence they had hemp. Four thousand years ago, they grow it to make rope, oil and paper. Twenty-five hundred years ago, they brew it into a tea and call it ‘green’. China doesn’t invade anyone for 800 years.

1300 B.C.: India invents the pot brownie. Indians believe weed encourages sleep, lowers fevers, cures dysentery and improves the mind and judgement. It also makes them very horny. Pretty soon there’s more than a billion Indians. They’re so mellow and laid (back) they barely notice when the Mughals invade in 1526 A.D., but boy oh boy do they have some really mind-blowing art and statuary to show them…

ALSO IN 1300 B.C.: Egyptians write what moderns know as the Chester Beatty Papyri, a treatise on colorectal complaints including the proper use of the original cannabuttnoid suppository as a digestion aid and hemorrhoid treatment. I dug deep into the bowels of medical archaeology and the annals of history <Beavis & Butthead snicker> to confirm the Egyptians brought us the marijuana BudButtBomb! Ponder for a moment who might have discovered that cannabis relieved the heartbreak of hemorrhoids: “I wonder if it would feel better if I stuck that up my ass?” Now you’re wondering, “Am I more ejimakated knowing this?” Probably not. You’re welcome.

4th CENTURY B.C.: Alexander the Great smokes a pipe full of weed and puts off conquering Asia Minor for at least three weeks while he contemplates the intricacies of his favorite concubine’s testicles.

1787: America’s Constitutional Convention, held in Philadelphia and attended by 55 delegates and 189 hookers, wraps up in September when the delegate from Virginia passes around some weed he brought back from his recent trip to Jamaica. That day the Founding Fathers invent the plan for something they call the electoral college. The next morning, after sleeping it off, no one can remember how the hell it actually works. Or what they’re all doing in the belfry of the Old North Tower. Or why they’re naked. Or why Steve is grinning like George III on Tax Day.

History's first recorded Republican

1936: The movie Reefer Madness is released, horrifying Americans with its depiction of what kind of documentaries are made by people who’ve clearly never smoked reefer before.

Public domain

1966: Marijuana is popularized by drop-out long-haired bell-bottomed Communist hippie weirdoes who never shut up about Ginsberg and Camus and Che and who listen obsessively to really far-out weird shit they call ‘psychedelic music’ and which their parents call ‘sound of cats being tortured .’ The new ‘reefer madness’ works to many new rock stars’ advantage as, for example, no one notices that Jim Morrison writes lyrics like a mentally-challenged banana slug and that Canned Heat guy can’t sing for shit. In 1967, Timothy Leary urges people to turn on, tune in, drop out. Everyone’s far too stoned to realize Leary is, at 47, waaaaay past thirty, which means they shouldn’t trust a damn thing he says.

1996: Famed astrophysicist Carl Sagan dies, and his widow reveals he liked to smoke weed while taking a shower with her. Sagan’s Cosmic Adventures come as a giant embarrassment to marijuana critics who contend that weed wrecks your brain and turns you into a total underachieving slacker loser. “Toldja,” says Harrison Ford, eyes half-mast.

2001: Canada becomes the first country in the history of the world to legalize weed for medical use. California’s all like waving its arms and going, “Hey! Wait a minute! We

legalized medical cannabis like five years ago!” and Canada’s all like, “Yeah, but you’re not a country,” and California goes, “But we were the first part of North America to legalize any sort of weed,” and Canada’s like, “Duuuuuude, will you knock it off? Nobody cares!”

Conservatives, meanwhile, complain that those damn godless socialist lefties will legalize anything. What’s next, gay marriage?

2002: The Canadian Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs issues a report saying, in essence, marijuana should be regulated like tobacco because it’s less harmful than alcohol, which comes as no surprise to anyone who’s ever been to a Jimmy Buffett concert. Canadian conservatives, like, totally freakin’ lose their minds, prompting the Committee to issue a second report saying, in essence, chill, dudes.

Photo from Reefer Madness: The Musical by The Chico State School of the Arts on Flickr

2010: California Proposition 19, also called the Regulate, Control, & Tax Cannabis Act, becomes a statewide ballot initiative. It would allow certain types of non-medical marijuana use although still prohibit the sale of it. Supporters argue it would help reduce the budget shortfall as well as force vicious Colombian drug cartel overlords to start shopping at Dollarama. It’s defeated by a powerful group of Republicans who object to the fact that the new law doesn’t negatively impact the poor, illegal Mexicans, legal Mexicans, old people, baby bunnies, and children of any age.

2013: Uruguay becomes the first country to completely legalize marijuana. Everyone’s all like, “What’s Uruguay?” because the country’s about the size of a soup stain and almost never makes the news. And that’s probably because, as a country, it probably sucks way less than wherever you live. According to Wikipedia, Uruguay ranks high in peace, democracy, size of the middle class, prosperity, absence of terrorism, economic freedom, income equality and 95% of its electricity comes from renewable energy. They’re just so much better than us, AND they smoked weed legally before everyone else. So NYAH!

2018: Canada becomes the second country in the world to fully legalize weed, and the first to get any international attention for it. Uruguay doesn’t make a stink about it like California did about the medical cannabis thing.

Have a totally groovy day, amigos!!!

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