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How to Enjoy the 420 Marijuana Holiday

420_004.jpg Smoke rises above thousands of people who gathered Wednesday for the 4/20 smoke out festival on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder April 20, 2011. Chancey Bush/ The Camera.

Anyone who opens their news feed today will read something about weed. That’s because it is 4/20, America’s Marijuana holiday.

For decades this was a day of protest. Huge gatherings in several Colorado cities every April 20th were the precursor to the laws changing there.

Around the country, and right here in Philly, there have always been concerts, events, dinners, parties and living room gatherings of cannabis enthusiasts.

The kindhearted souls celebrating today also enjoy sharing. Thus, often it is on 4/20, hopefully in the sunshine on a spring afternoon, that many Americans get their first experience with marijuana.

It used to be that someone would just pass a joint or a bong. A modern, golden age of cannabis is upon us in 2016 with a wide selection of products. Occasional consumers might also be trying something new today.

Here are some tips, tricks and the history of this annual green fest to help you properly enjoy Mary Jane’s special day.


If you have never consumed cannabis or it has been a while, please, stick to this tried and true method. Smoking dried cannabis flowers is efficient, effective and helps you refine the impact.

First pick a strain, and there are hundreds. Around any city you will find some consistent mid-grade with seedless, fruity buds. There is also usually some tasty Blue Dream with a lighter green color and the distinctive, deep scent of red wine corks. A smattering of purplish buds are also floating around along with some interesting indicas.

joint5All of this goes for between $60 and $120 per quarter ounce, or 7 grams. Today though many savvy underground and legal operators will offer single grams and joints for sale and $5 or $10.

If you are looking for a stoned and super munchie high go for the Blue Dream or try the indicas to mellow out from too much coffee or energy drinks.

Enjoy the whole process. Smell the plant, look at the intricate and rather attractive flowers. Crush the bud and feel the dense consistency.

Inhale slowly and steadily. And, contrary to popular belief, there is absolutely no need to hold in your toke like a deep sea diver. Simply breathe in the fragrant smoke and exhale. Our lungs are incredibly good at grabbing the cannabinoids from the smoke.

After two or three puffs the sensations will appear. It will take just minutes. At this point everything can wear off in less than an hour.

Take a moment. Gauge the effects. Relax. Then, If you are comfortable, take three or four more to truly get a definitive high that will last one to two hours.

Expect red, squinting eyes, giggling, intriguing conversation, enjoyment of music and cravings for food.

A single joint or meticulously packed bowl is often enough. No need to overindulge.

Personally it is smoking flower that I enjoy the most. The experience is soothing and the easiest to control. Nothing really beats the parade of scents and flavors in artisan grown cannabis.

Hash-oil and Dabs

The biggest trend today is taking marijuana plants and passing butane or super critical carbon dioxide through them creates hash oil. This is the base, the stock of the kitchen. Hundreds of different products can be made from this extract.

ThirdEyeShatterPut it into an industrial vacuum pressure oven and – voila – you have wax, shatter and honey oil. Dabs.

Using special bong-like dab rigs and e-cigarette style vape pens the cannabis concentrate is inhaled. Millennial consumers especially seem to be gravitating towards these delivery methods. The vape pens especially are portable and discreet. Perfect for the secret urban stoner.

Dab rigs look like a small glass bong but have a metal nail head where the bowl would be. Using a torch often seen in kitchens caramelizing sugar on creme brulee the nail is heated to red hot. A small glob of the wax, shatter or honey oil is put on the end of a glass rod and then touched to the hot nail. The consumer then inhales the instantly vaporized dose.

Dabbing is like downing a shot of tequila mixed with a shot of vodka. Flower consumers often find it too strong for their taste. Yet there is whole new crowd who do nothing but dab. They seem to have a sustained tolerance for both the method and the potency.

But for new or inexperienced consumers it may be a shock. The effects are almost instant and comparable to smoking several grams of flower…quickly and in succession.

The key is to NOT take a monster hit. Inhale gently, slowly and steadily. Back off the moment you feel your lungs fill. Exhale and take several clear breaths.

Well manufactured hash oil products can retail some really gorgeous flavors and the sensations are enhanced especially within the first 20 minutes after taking a dab.

It’s also pricey. Wax costs between $25 and $50 per gram. Dab rigs and accouterments can costs hundreds of dollars. So it ain’t a cheap way to party.

Still, done right and in the correct setting it can be fun. Dab responsibly folks.

[Check out Everything you need to know about hash oil and dabs ]


Yum. There is just something about the flavor of cannabis and butter that makes for a truly delicious food encounter.

choc2When marijuana leaves and buds are heated slowly into butter the cannabinoids leave the plant and suspend in the fats.

In turn that butter base is used for chocolates, cookies, cakes, brownies and a whole smorgasbord of treats. Also extracted hash oil is now infused into products like gummy bears, lollipops and hard candies.

A stellar community of chefs and culinary artists in the Philadelphia area have also latched on to the trend. A recent event that gathered together some of the top locals showed that the result of passionate foodies combined with an emerging market in cannabis edibles makes for some uniquely delectable items. How about a chocolate Whoopie Pie cake where the generous filling is cannabis butter and marshmallow fluff. Then there are the gigantic peanut butter and chocolate cups filled with jelly or classic candy grape lollipops both with 50 milligrams of THC.

The ultimate, the piece-de-resistance, is cannabis butter infused bacon slices topped with raw sugar and packed with 100 milligrams of THC. Seriously.

For the cannabis connoisseur, the daily consumer, these are awesome round out experiences for 4/20. Truly holiday fare.

Newbies though should be a bit wary of the happy brownies though.

Just one of the aforementioned items could be enough to put a virgin user to sleep.

Edibles take hours to work. Eat one at 8 pm and the full impact will come on between 10 pm and midnight. Then you better be ready for an eight-hour ride.

When humans consume cannabis thorough food or drinks the cannabinoids are metabolized in the liver instead of the lungs. The intoxicating effects have a very gradual buildup but last much longer. They are also more intense (some say groovy) than the highs associated with smoking or even dabbing. That’s because the body matches the external cannabinoids form the marijuana with our own, natural internal endocannabinoids. It’s like a triple dose.

Even relatively experienced consumers looking to try some edibles should really start slowly. Just take a few bites. This is honestly the toughest part because these things taste so freaking good.

You will want to eat the whole brownie. You will want to eat the whole tray and then a box of the lollipops. The powerful terpenes and flavinoids in cannabis, the scent and flavor molecules, interact withe pallet in a very pleasing way. But just hold back and enjoy the experience.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd famously ate one too many squares from a heavily infused marijuana candy bar in Colorado leading to a bad trip.

Over indulgence is best dealt with by employing the fuzzy pajamas and Netflix technique for about 12 hours. Recent studies have shown that a number of tourists eating marijuana in Colorado have checked themselves into emergency rooms. There the staff keep them calm and hydrated…the open backed gown and basic cable in the ER technique.

Still, take note: even if you eat one too many cannabis edibles there is no lethal dose. Repeat after me: Do not freak out, it’s all OK.

A little goes a long way with these products.

Underground cookies and brownies can costs $5 to $10 individually. Candies $10 to $20 per bag. Other specialized edibles from $10 to $50 per serving.

My all time favorite is the candy sushi made by my friend Anna in Oregon. Rice cereal treats made with infused butter are cut into small medallions, topped with infused candy and wrapped with a pressed fruit strip. Heaven.


Attending some marijuana themed event is also a must for any 4/20.

A good example is the East Coast Cannabis Coalition is helping with a march then smoke down in Trenton in front of the New Jersey State House. Their rally last year saw hundreds light joints at 4;20 pm.

800px-Cannabis_Libre_1That group is also welcoming the stop of a torch on it’s journey from Maine to Florida to raise awareness for legalization. Kevin Cranford of Maryland NORML created the East Coast Unity Cypher tour.

«With 2016 poised to be a big year for east coast marijuana it’s important the people know what’s going on in their area,» said Cranford.

After the stop in Trenton the torch will go to Philadelphia where a 4/20 party will be held with PhillyNORML at the One Art Center 1431-39 N. 52nd at 8 pm.

Cranford said the tour then goes on to Delaware with local NORML chapter on 4/21, the Washington Monument 4/22, the National Cannabis Festival on 4/23 then Raleigh, North Carolina on 4/25.

The Cypher seems to be keeping alive both the celebratory and protest activities of the day.


In case you weren’t aware of the History of 420, find out here