Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

5 Reasons To Feel Hopeful This 4/20

Here's why this year's celebration is so important to the cannabis movement, and what you can do to participate from home.

This year's 4/20 feels a little bit like Christmas is being canceled. 

Lindsey Bartlett
4/20 gathered tens of thousands, rain or shine, to Civic Center Park in Denver, Colorado.

It's disappointing. The cannabis industry was so looking forward to 4/20/2020 not only because of the extra palindromic layering of 20s, but also because so many more legal markets came online over the past year. While sales on the days surrounding the 4/20 holiday in legal markets often see double-digit increases, we lost our reason to connect and celebrate how far the plant has come.

Related: 10 Healthy, Productive Things To Do While High

But fret not. Here is how cannabis entrepreneurs can maintain our course and have hope. 

4/20 exemplifies cannabis's ability to bring people together.

Historically, massive protests have taken place on this date. For my entire adult life, since becoming a medical patient in Colorado at the wide-eyed age of 19, I attended 4/20 legalization rallies. I would post up and smoke with friends on the lawn at CU Boulder, as well as downtown Denver's Civic Center Park. Since 1971, 4/20 protests were a massive gathering of rebels and advocates, from NORML to SSDP—all with the common goal to end prohibition.

At every youthful rally, I dreamed of the cannabis industry world as it exists today. Packs of joints were the talk of legend then. Now, I am holding that dream in my hand.

Tens of thousands of people attended the Mile High 420 Fest, which evolved into a concert up to 2018. Tens of thousands of people attended 4/20 on Hippie Hill at Golden Gate State Park in San Francisco. Tens of thousands gather at the National Cannabis Festival in D.C. Not to mention the never-ending list of 4/20 concerts tied to this date.


A post shared by Lindsey Bartlett (@lindse_y) on

Gathering people is the core of the cannabis community. 4/20 post-legalization evolved into the cannabis industry's Super Bowl, it's the size of many sporting events. The date has its own tourist industry. MJBIzDaily found sales spiked as high as 128 percent in Colorado in 2019—proving that the new markets opening up brought tourists on 4/20, as in the established markets. 

Recent data indicates the number of sales sparked by people's stockpiling in mid-March for self-isolation and stay-at-home orders, is the only date in history to ever beat 4/20 in sales.

RELATED: Marijuana Dispensaries Offer Essential Services Across The Country. Here's Why It Matters.

Yes, tons of events are streaming online, and staying connected in our virtual reality is important.

But the loss of community, the loss of people coming together in its roots to protest and to celebrate, feels like looking into a lonely, Terminator-esque dystopian future that we need to do everything in our power to avoid.

We are angry. We have every right to be. But it's not personal, and we are newly-essential. The cannabis industry and legalization movement, in my 8 years of reporting on it, is a freight train. It has been pushing, barrelling, uphill with unbelievable momentum. Past incomprehensible barriers, including federal prohibition. And then this current crisis hit, and it felt like the world pulled the emergency brake. It is challenging for many companies, across every industry, to a degree that is still hard to fully comprehend. 

We, as a collective and individually, are cycling through the five stages of grief. We recognize that the world when 4/20/2021 comes around will not be the same.

Cannabis entrepreneurs, keep that internal Bic lighter burning, no matter how low the flame. Keep it lit. There are so many reasons to have hope. We need to envision and plan for the future we want. We need to manifest the cannabis industry that is sustainable for the long mountain we climb.

The momentum of this industry is nothing short of miraculous. We are still going, uphill, now with the brakes on, and every barrier—against all of those odds. Which is usual for this industry.

Here are five good reasons to have hope this 4/20. 

1. Digital measures, mail-in, and virtual signature signal advancement of laws.

In Montana, there is a lawsuit calling for virtual ballot signature gathering for the advancement of its adult-use cannabis bill. There is also a group of lawmakers in Massachusetts currently urging the Department of Veterans Affairs to allow doctors to prescribe cannabis to veterans via telemedicine, Marijuana Moment first reported. Arizona has a similar ask of its Supreme Court to allow digital signatures for ballot initiatives for the 2020 election this fall.

2. Cannabis has a new level of credibility deemed "essential."

No other industry on earth has made the jump from illegal to essential in such a short time. It's a big deal. In the eyes of the world, we have been legitimized as an industry. There is no returning from that reality. It will help to force open the eyes of those at the highest federal levels, to see the amount of necessity this industry has and demand that exists in all 50 states.

3. Virtual events promise to be even bigger than real ones.

Virtual reality is answering my dream of being at every 4/20 event at once. 

The power of 4/20, and its ability to bring thousands and thousands of people together, now via virtual reality, is inspiring. There's a shot at the 4/20 World Record to claim the title of "Most People Consuming Cannabis On A Video Chat." Weedmaps is throwing quite the virtual shindig called Higher Together, featuring Wiz Khalifa and Billy Ray Cyrus (I wonder if Miley will be smoking with her pops on the holiday). The proceeds from both of those events will benefit The Last Prisoner Project, calling for the immediate release of those incarcerated across the country for low-level cannabis crimes. There is also the HighStream 420 Festival that benefits COVID-19 relief funds. It's thrown by cannabis vets The Emerald Cup and National Cannabis Festival, in which you can invite Melissa Etheridge, The Disco Biscuits, Abdullah Saeed, Weed and Grub, Laganja Estranja, and more into your home. 

RELATED: 4/20 Goes Virtual: The High Holiday Brings Cannabis Events To Your Home

4. Critical cannabis businesses advance overnight.

Delivery. Curb-side pick-up. Cashless payment. These are three examples of innovations that may normally have taken years to push through legislation. Now, cities like Boulder, Colorado, offer delivery for medical patients for the first time in the state's history. Michigan offers curb-side for its adult-use and medical patients to make it safer for its staff. There are several new avenues for entrepreneurs that are opening up out of necessity. 

5. Health and wellness will become more paramount.

There are two types of cannabis entrepreneurs: dealers and healers. I would advise you to become the latter because healing will become an even more lucrative business in the coming years. Our society has already really moved toward healthier, plant-centered alternatives to the pharmaceutical drugs that pervade our lives. Not necessarily smoking, but health-conscious ways of imbibing like drinkables, edibles, gel caps, will become more in-demand. As will the wholistic, healthier approach to living that only a pandemic can trigger. I have hope for cannabis companies that center their message on health, science, research, and wellness.