Author Archives: j B

Urban Legend

420 Origins

– Urban Legend

“If I had a dollar for every time someone told me how 420 originated, I’d be rich… or I’d at least be a few dollars richer.  The first time I heard about 420, I was in middle school.  I was on the phone with a friend, and he told me, “its 4:20, light up a joint!”.  At the time, I had no idea what he was talking about… several years later, and its all clear to me.  The first origination story I heard in regards to 420 was that marijuana burns at 420 degrees.  I just assumed this was true, but I later heard that 420 was actually a police radio code use to identify teenage stoners… Turns out both of these are incorrect.  Now, although this eerie date is shared with Hitler’s Birthday and the Columbine shootings, it turns out, that this entire 420 operation originated from a small high school in California.  Yeah, you heard me right.  420 was born out of San Rafael high school back in the early 70s.  A bunch of kids used to get together after school around 4:20 pm to toke up.  They did this regularly, and even started referring to smoking as 420.  They used this to evade the police and their parents.  However, it slowly caught on, and it then began to spread.  Soon enough, 420 grew into an international symbol for marijuana.” (L.S.)

Informant Analysis:

“Who would’ve thought that a bunch of high school kids would have started a craze that would quickly spread across the globe as a universally known code for marijuana.  People everywhere, in America, and I know tons of people in England, who all refer to 420 as the epitome of weed culture. It now symbolizes the culture, and tons of activist groups have referenced 420 in their campaigns or in their names.  I actually didn’t find about the San Rafael origin until just before 4/20 of this year.  I heard it from a girlfriend who I think told me she read it in a facebook group.  So who knows, but it all sounds real enough to me… quite the Cinderella story really.” (L.S.)

Personal Analysis:

The urban legends surrounding the origin of 420 have long been discussed and debunked.  I feel it is only recently that San Rafael emerged as the original founding location of 420.  I feel that the number of stories surrounding 420 is far less important than what they have come to mean.  420 has been embraced around the world as the full embodiment of cannabis culture.  It can be seen in music, films, television, and all mediums of pop culture.  No conversation on marijuana folklore would be complete without some mentioning of 420.  420 has become not only an international holiday, but also the basis for marijuana activist campaigns.  Churches have been erected and have included 420 in their title.  420 has united smokers across the globe and has provided a common basis for an ethnic link.  People can now identify themselves as part of the cannabis culture simply with the reciting of three numbers.  This is diffusion at its greatest!

Annotation: Information about a comic book entitled 420 can be found in this recent edition of High Times Magazine. This magazine stands as the pinnacle for continuous marijuana published information.

High Times Magazine, “Sensi Superman”, February 2007, page 13.


Turkish Rounds

– Game

“The only smoking game that I’ve ever heard of is Turkish Rounds… Although, I think I’ve also heard it referred to as Chicago.  It requires at least two people to play, and from that point on, the more people you add, the harder the game is.  The point is, after you rip the smoke, you are to hold it until the piece or joint is returned to you.  Only then are you supposed to exhale.” (A.G.)

Informant Analysis

“People usually play this game when their supplies are starting to dwindle.  They do it because it is tends to be more efficient, and the reasons are twofold.  One, you learn to take much smaller hits when playing, thus making the joint last longer.  Two, the longer you hold the smoke in your lungs, the more it will affect you, and the higher you will effectively become.  However, it certainly requires a high degree of lung stamina which is what makes it such a challenge.  Most people have to cough the smoke out well before the piece is returned to them.  It’s also a way to earn stripes as a credible smoker.” (A.G.)

Personal Analysis:

It seems the functions of this game are both practical and competitive.  As the informant so aptly described, playing Turkish Rounds allows smokers to be more conservative with their consumption.  This must be particular useful when one is nearing the end of their stash of cannabis.  Simultaneously, this game creates a competitive environment in which the lung capacity of the participants is duly tested.

In addition to the functions listed above, this game also serves to highlight the fact that most smokers tend to smoke only in groups.  Unlike with cigarettes, it seems that cannabis users much prefer smoking with others than smoking alone.  It seems to be a bonding experience in which users tend to sit or stand in a circle.  Thus, despite the competitive element of this game, there exists also a significant team-based component.  Players depend upon the others to quickly inhale their share of smoke and then swiftly pass it along to the next person.  The longer they take in doing this, the harder it is for everyone else to play.  Thus, if the primary focus of the group is efficiency as opposed to competition, the circle becomes a unified team with the shared goal of working together.


Magic Brownies

– Recipe

“My recipe is you take two ounces of trim/marijuana clippings.  Or two ounces of low grade Marijuana.  So check it out – you bring a cup of water to a boil.  You then add two sticks of butter.  Once the butter melts, you throw the two ounces of MJ into the butter/water mixture.  Allow that mixture to simmer at a low temperature for aprox. four hours.  Ok so after the butter has been simmered, you drain the mixture of all the spent marijuana clippings.  And allow the mixture to cool, as the mixture cools, the butter rises and separates from the water.  And you’re left with umm a stick of cannabutter and some waste water that is later disposed of, or converted to Bhang.  This is done by adding milk to the waste the water.  The stick of cannabutter can then be used to create brownies or any other eatable of your choosing.  Simply fuse the butter with the brownie mix or item of your choice, and bon a’petit.” (J.M.)

Informant Analysis:

“I learned this recipe from a friend of mine in high school.  There are a lot of variations because some people like using only butter.  But I think that simmering it with water allows to separate some of the undesirable marijuana flavors from the fat soluble THC and other CTPs.  This leaves you with a tasty snack, and a fun new way of getting high.  Best of all, the high is better and lasts longer.” (J.M.)

Personal Analysis:

Making special brownies seems to be reserved for the smoking connoisseurs as it entails a much longer preparation process than any other means of consumption.  However, the benefits certainly seem to exceed the cost.  Aside from simply being a tasty snack, consuming cannabis in this fashion is significantly healthier in that it avoids any of the potential lung damaging effects associated with smoking. Additionally, it is known to facilitate an equally impressive and longer lasting effect.  That being said, it would seem that it is a more costly process in that it requires around two ounces of cannabis to create.

What is interesting to note about this folk recipe is the notion of variation.  People enjoy the consumption of cannabis in all possible ways, from smoking, to vaporizing, to eating.  Even when limited to eatables, variation exists in abundance.  People have different techniques for preparing cannabutter, and they certainly have varying tastes when determining what end product to create.


I See France

– Proverb / Saying

Celui qui fume est celui qui voit

The one that smokes is the one that sees

He who smokes is he who sees

Informant Analysis:

“In France we love to smoke.  Many uhh people can be found smoking tobacco.  However, it is … uhh how do you say… common to mix weed with the tobacco when rolling. In France we call this a spliff.  But we smoke it in a different way then you do in America.  In France, we take our time with it.  Here, I have seen that Americans are rushed when smoking.  They take two puffs and then pass it.  In France, we chill with it.  You can smoke as long as you want.  There is a saying in France about marijuana.  It goes, celui qui fume est celui qui voit.  In English this means, he who smokes is he who sees.  It refers to … more to uhhh … philosophy… Smoking, how do you say, opens your mind?  You are in touch with the world. You see things in a new way.” (D.B.)

Personal Analysis:

It seems that cannabis is often associated with philosophy in some way.  Upon consumption of this plant, brain activity is in some way altered.  This change can psychologically alter one’s thinking.  The French saying that the informant alluded to clearly points to this alteration as a philosophical enhancement.  I must agree with the informant in regards to his analysis of what the item means.  The usage of any psychedelic, such as cannabis, can enhance any number of conceptions and activities.  However, this particular substance appears to often effect one’s perceptions of existence and being.  This may be why some religions utilize the plant for meditation purposes.  This saying therefore becomes reminiscent of a legend in that it invites discussion as to whether it is true or not.

Similar examples of this topic can be seen throughout American pop culture.  The television show, Entourage, for example contains an episode in the first season entitled, the Script and the Sherpa.  In this episode, Val Kilmer makes a guest appearance as a pot growing Sherpa.  After consuming an exuberant amount of cannabis, he delivers a strange philosophical monologue in which he states, “The Earth is moving. Did you feel that? Everything. All the time. Dimensions we can’t even see. Everything is evolving.”  Thus, at least in this particular example, it is clear that cannabis may enhance one’s philosophical viewpoints.

However, before alluding to this French saying, the informant relayed a few other unique points.  The most interesting being his critique of the way Americans smoke “spliffs”.  In his short time spent in US, he was quick to observe the “puff puff pass” dynamic exhibited by American smokers.  It seems he felt unaccustomed and almost rushed by this seemingly petty ritual, as in his country, there is no set standard for how long one should smoke.  However, this ritual is an inherent component of the American smokers’ “etiquette”. Clearly this courtesy has yet to diffuse across the Atlantic.


The Ganja Sheep

– Legend

“The Twa found weed taking the sheep’s, they used to take, they are the only people that eat sheep things.  They are the ones who raise sheeps to eat.  One time, a Twa guy would take their sheep to a bush.  One time, they would stay for hours and hours.  Here they would eat the bushes.  The guy wouldn’t tell that they are high, you see.  He would just see that they are very happy.  And then, they kept on eating it and eating it.  He then took one of the leaves and cooked it.  It made it him very dizzy.  Another time, he took it and kept it.  When it became dry, he tried smoking it.  Rich people smoke tobacco in a tobacco leaf.  This is how he knew.  He knew to smoke it for people smoked tobacco. Before they even offer you something to drink, they offer you something to smoke.  In my culture, before drink, you smoke.  It is usually tobacco, because most people don’t have the visit of the King all the time.  If the King visits, you must find weed and give to him.” (D.C.)

Informant Analysis:

“I tell you this story to show how the Twa found weed.  You don’t guess that it was the sheep that actually did it.  The Twa use the sheep to find weed, and then use the weed to get sheep.  But it is of importance to mention our culture.  Smoke is important to us and can be of higher worth than food.” (D.C.)

Personal Analysis:

I think it is incredibly interesting to see how valued marijuana is in other parts of the world.  The Twas relied on it for their survival.  It is no wonder that the Rwandans may have questioned how it first was discovered.  Upon such a question, one was bound to make an assumption.  That is what I believe this narrative is, an assumption.  Although possible, it seems hard to fathom that it was a sheep that first stumbled upon cannabis.  However, the existence of this legend only further signifies the relevance marijuana has had on the Rwandan culture.  Even more germane to the topic is the informant’s reference to the hierarchy of goods used in entertaining guests.  In this hierarchy, cannabis takes the highest priority, above food and even water.