Today is Cannabis Day. According to at least one story, this date was chosen because "420" is police parlance for "pot smoking in progress." (With weed becoming legal in many state, this will become an interesting bit of history.) Another account says that it this date comes from Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35": Multiply those numbers and you get 420. Ohh-kaay. Some have also tied it to the fact that it's Adolf Hitler's birthday, though what he has to do with it is beyond me.
The most plausible explanation I've found is that it started with a group of Marin County high-schoolers who met at 4:20 in the afternoon on this date (or some fine day) in 1971 to "toke." If that's true, today would mark the 50th anniversary of that historic encounter.
I have to wonder whether this "holiday" will grow or decline in importance now that "weed" is being legalized or decriminalized in one jurisdiction after another.
One reason I mention 420, though, is its possible connection to another "chemical" holiday--one that is connected to a bicycle ride and about which I was remiss in not mentioning!
On 19 April 1943, Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, often called the father of psychedelic medicine, took (dropped) lysergic acid diethylamide--at 4:20 pm--and went for a bike ride. This might be the reason why the experiences--which, for some, resemble an almost-cinematic evolution of sensual stimuli-- that ensue from dropping acid are called a "trip."
|From Double Blind|
Believe it or not, it didn't become illegal to possess LSD in the United States until 24 October 1968. But 19 April didn't become a holiday, if an unofficial one, until 1985, so it couldn't be called "Acid Day" without attracting the attention of authorities. You're a lot more likely to get busted for dropping than for toking: For the latter, the gendarmes, depending on where and what race you are, might look the other way. Thus did 19 April become World Bicycle Day.
As for Hofmann himself: He described his experiences in rather vivid detail. And he lived to be 102. Maybe it had something to do with his bike-riding.