Courtesy Peyton Krzyzek
A potent smell wafts through the air, a pang of hunger strikes and the lethargic relaxation slowly kicks in.
These are a few indications that 420 is upon us, and although the day has passed, there’s no need to worry because this year, the entire month of April is officially 4-20.
History shows 420 dating back to 1971, when a group of five San Rafael High School friends known as the Waldos — their name being chosen after they designated a wall they would hang out at — would meet up and spark up. Waldos got word of a Coast Guard service member who could no longer tend his plot of marijuana plants near the Point Reyes Peninsula Coast Guard station and decided to pluck some of the free bud. They started a tradition that would spread worldwide.
Since 1971, many annual events honor 420, and one of most notable is in San Francisco, where thousands of people gather on Hippie Hill and partake in a day of smoking, socializing and relaxing.
Prolonged isolation and high stress has a lot of people looking for ways to cope, relax and escape the surreal pandemic reality we’re all trapped in. Fortunately, this particular holiday for marijuana connoisseurs allows for a day of complete relaxation, and Santa Rosa Junior College students know how to do it best.
Marshall, 19, is a full-time student who works a part-time job for a private beauty company, so she understands how difficult it can be to manage time between work and school. With stress levels running high, she grabs her medical card, takes a trip to the dispensary and gives some insight on her 420 rituals and marijuana experiences.
“I guess you could say I like feeling relaxed, and I’m a pretty high-strung person so marijuana has always and will always help me out with that,” she said.
Although some people smoke to relax and let loose, other use is marijuana to better their lives and help maintain a more clear and focused mentality.
“I actually use weed to help with my anxiety and pains,” Marshall said. “I smoke CBD a lot more than TCH, however I do like to use THC occasionally when I’m trying to be more social and comfortable.”
Since social distancing is in effect, gathering with friends to celebrate 420 is not in the cards, but there are other social activities everyone can partake in.
“This year I zoomed into 420 celebrations but it isn’t the same as going to San Francisco, meeting new people and sharing joints,” Marshall said. “But I still followed my 420 ritual which is I always stay up until 4:20 a.m to smoke my first bowl and usually it’s indica or CBD because I’m about to go to bed at that point.”
One of the notorious side effects of smoking marijuana is the insatiable urge to devour food. Two SRJC students provided insight on which munchies meet their fancy.
“ Chocolate-is-a-must. Chicken wings? Mandatory. Finally any gummy bears are essential,” Marshall said.
“My prefered Munchies are definitely the brown sugar Pop Tarts, but toasted so that the inside is warm, homemade peanut butter cookies, almost any kind of popcorn,” said Angle, 15, an SRJC student who also attends high school.
“My favorite munchies? Everything! Leftover Chinese, jelly beans because every flavor is a new adventure, chips because they are such a diverse snack, but the best of all, McDonalds!” said student Willow Ornellas, 19. “Chocolate milkshake and fries for the win.”
Whether you prefer THC or CBD, the world of weed can accommodate anyone’s needs. According to the United Nations, 158.8 million people around the world use marijuana for various reasons, but a pattern that appears among JC students is that they use it predominantly as a tool to help with mental clarity.
“Honestly, smoking weed is just a huge stress reliever, and it’s made a big impact on my life,” Angel said. “It’s helped me by making me see life in a more calm way and causes me not to stress about every little thing going wrong.”
Everyone experiences stress but this pandemic has boosted anxiety levels to an all-time high, with prescriptions for anti-anxiety medication up 34 percent. Feeling like a trapped animal with little to no human exposure or physical contact and an uncertain future, it is easy for many to fall into a harmful mental state. Ornellas explained why smoking has been the most beneficial alternative for dealing with her stress, both from school and on a personal level.
“For me, smoking is very healing,” she said. “I get really stressed and anxious but weed has changed my life and offers me a chance to have a clear head. I started experimenting with weed after my dad passed away unexpectedly, and it helped me significantly. I’ll never regret getting my medical card.”
SRJC is known for its diversity, and although students have a similar motive for smoking, the methods in which they get high differ.
“I smoke with my pens because it’s convient, but my prefered way is with flowers because nothing lives up to the grinding and packing feeling,” Marshall said.
“ I love smoking from a bong, but I also smoke joints frequently and take edibles as well,” Ornellas said.
“I prefer joints and blunts because they’re the-old school way of smoking, and I really enjoy rolling,” Angel said.
Regardless of the method or the munchies, JC students are taking some 420 time this month to sit back, relax and reflect.
“You don’t have to be a stoner to enjoy it, and it’s a super personal experience per person,” Marshall said. “Everyone has their own experience with it and advice I would want to give someone is to never feel pressured to smoke if you don’t want to. You shouldn’t do it because you feel forced but rather you should do it based on what you want.”