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It’s a big year for 4/20 – and for plant/medicine/drug the national holiday honors.

Choose from at least eight 4/20 events large and small throughout Illinois and Iowa, two states with radically different realities when it comes to marijuana. Illinois is one of 24 states where cannabis is fully legal, while Iowa is one of 11 states where cannabis remains almost entirely illegal. The rest are somewhere in between, with a combination of decriminalization and medical legalization.

Key developments in cannabis research and policy

TRM has compiled a calendar of 4/20 events, which you can find below. But first, check out these big developments over the past year in cannabis research and policy, and why many activists consider 4/20 a  “half-celebration and half-call to action:”

  1. Eighty-eight percent of Americans favor full federal legalization of cannabis, the greatest percentage in history. (Pew Research)
  2. The federal Health and Human Services agency has recommended that the Food and Drug Administration reclassify cannabis from a Schedule I drug comparable to LSD and heroine, to a Schedule III drug in the same category as ketamine, testosterone and steroids. (Congressional Research Service)
  3. The most recent big research: legalization leads to a decrease in youth use, according to a study published just this week in the Journal of Pediatrics. (Marijuana Moment)
  4. Other pivotal recent research: cannabis can help reduce cravings for crystal meth. (PsyPost) and is shown to reduce non-prescription opioid use in states where marijuana is legal. (Rutgers)
  5. Some research shows cannabis is just as effective as opioids in relieving pain (Marijuana Moment), while one recent study says it has no impact on chronic pain. (Psychology Today)
  6. Latest negative research: regular cannabis users can have a higher risk of stroke and heart attack (American Heart Association), and anxiety (Fortune), and increasing cases of the repeat-vomiting syndrome of cannabis hyperemesis are being reported. (New Scientist)
  7. Biggest recent surprise: several studies now show using cannabis can help increase immunity to COVID by inhibiting a protein critical to the virus (NIH).
  8. President Joe Biden pardoned about 6,500 people in January who had been imprisoned for federal cannabis-related offenses. Another 30,000 people are still incarcerated at the state level for cannabis-related offenses. (Reuters)
  9. Black people are more than three times likely than white people to be arrested for a cannabis-related offense. In Illinois and Iowa, that disparity increases to more than seven times. (ACLU)
  10. The marijuna industry remains dominated by white males, though diversity is increasing. As of 2023, People of Color account for 24 percent of marijuana business executives. Women account for 39 percent. (MJBiz Daily)
  11. Germany legalized recreational cannabis earlier this month. (CNN
  12. Thailand is likely to ban cannabis by the end of the year, after becoming the first Asian country to legalize it in 2022. (Reuters)
  13. Ukraine legalized medical marijuana in February to help address the mental anguish of the two-year war with Russia. (Forbes)

Origins of 4/20

The 4/20 holiday was originally named after a group of 1970s high schoolers in California. It became a national phenomenon when High Times Magazine wrote about an event planned by early users of the moniker. Time Magazine provides a description of the 4/20 holiday’s founding, too.

4/20 Events in Illinois and Iowa

April 2024

More Cannabis Education and Social Justice Resources

You can learn more about cannabis policy, research and culture in The Green Wave, The Real Mainstream’s special section about cannabis.

For a directory of groups advocating for legalization, decriminalization, policy changes and increased research, head to The Real Mainstream’s new directory of Cannabis Advocacy Groups.