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New Perspective Will Fuel 420 Celebrations This Year

Let us resolve to reflect on the challenges and lessons of the past year while embracing the optimism on the horizon.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

One year ago, in the earliest days of the pandemic, the world was going into a global lockdown while people everywhere adjusted to coronavirus quarantines, toilet paper shortages, and n95 masks. Worry gripped the nation, and hope for a better day seemed a far-off, distant aspiration that could only come following months of fear and uncertainty. The idea of recognizing the 4/20 holiday, much less actively celebrating it, felt inappropriate at best and downright dangerous at worst. 

So like everything else last year, 4/20 events carefully planned over months were abruptly canceled. Marketing efforts focused on 4/20 were curtailed or shelved. And large in-person get-togethers were replaced with Zoom gatherings. Moods were more frequently somber than celebratory. But as vaccination numbers increase, a palpable wave of optimism is growing across the United States and the cannabis industry. We may be ready to party again, but we cannot ignore the lessons of the past 12 months. This year, 4/20 carries additional significance. 

Related: 5 Reasons To Feel Hopeful This 4/20

We are not just "celebrating" this year. We are obligated by our shared experience to do more. We have all learned over the past year how to sacrifice, some much more than others. We have all experienced fear, worry, and isolation. We witnessed not just the heroism of healthcare and front-line workers but the persistence of those rallying for social justice in the streets. It isn't easy to imagine how anyone surviving through the previous 12 months could emerge unchanged. So our approach to 4/20 should change, as well. 

This year on April 20th, let us resolve to reflect on the challenges and lessons of the past year while embracing the optimism on the horizon. Let us celebrate our collective resilience--and the relationships with each other that carried us through the past year. But perhaps most of all, let us honor the hope and kindness that permeated through the darkness of the pandemic, demonstrated most clearly in hospital corridors, grocery aisles, and dispensary counters around the country. Finally, let us engage this human kindness and compassion to bring new meaning to our industry's annual holiday. No longer just a party for the present, 4/20 is now a celebration looking forward to all that is possible. Not 4/20, but "4ward20."

Using this spirit of forward-looking optimism as a focal point opens up many different ways to celebrate the holiday. We have examples all around us from which to draw inspiration: The dedication of first responders, the resourcefulness of front-line workers, and the sheer tenacity of vaccine researchers, to name a few. On a less dramatic scale, even small acts created a huge impact. For example, who was not charmed by the "Dreams" lip-synching skateboarder Nathan Apodaca? How many marveled at the impromptu performances by musicians on city fire escapes? And how reassuring were the nightly rituals of chants, howls, and whistles that occurred across the country during lockdown?

New Year, New Perspective

For this year's "4ward20," let us take a similar approach to celebrate in ways both large and small:

  • Take simple steps: Create a promise to yourself, your family, loved ones, or community for self-improvement, renewed closeness, or greater involvement. Commit to that personal goal, even if it is to "lose the sweatpants." Pledge to spend more time with family and friends, and let them know about your intentions. Resolve to take that first step toward getting to know your neighbors better or volunteering in your community. Make 4/20 a day of service to yourself, your family, and your neighborhood. 
  • Care for your community: Find a way to incorporate the greater good into your holiday celebrations. When it is possible again, use the day to pay a visit to elderly neighbors. Make a grocery run for a friend in need. You can also decide to create an annual tradition of donating to a deserving social justice organization working on behalf of your community. Several are working directly to impact the cannabis community, including The Last Prisoner Project and the Nuleaf Project.
  • Get grateful: Most of us have survived the pandemic with our health and our families intact. But we all know not everyone was so fortunate. We should all remember our survival forever, and something we should all celebrate with solemn gratitude. Use the 4/20 holiday moving forward to express this gratitude by celebrating safely with loved ones and/or finding ways to connect with others safely. Although we may all be sick of video calls right now, a Zoom visit to say thanks to a helpful friend or loved one could be just the right way to celebrate your gratitude. Make a list of those who helped you make it through the last year, and let them know you are grateful on 4/20.

So, for this 4/20—or 4ward20—let us start something new. It is time to expand our holiday beyond its counterculture origins and transform it into an annual event worthy of our struggle. To help, Wana Brands is launching a #4ward20 website offering specific ways consumers can get involved. And we encourage everyone to share how they celebrate by posting photos and videos to social media sites with #4ward20 and tagging Wana Brands. 

People warn that returning to "normal" once the pandemic threat is over would be a mistake. We have seen too much inequity, experienced too much pain, endured too much heartache to return to what was, the argument goes. Instead, we should move forward with a new vision of the future, new ideas on how we work together, and new ways of thinking on how our world should work for all of us. It is an idea worth strongly considering and an idea Wana Brands has adopted as worth pursuing.