April 20 is an excuse to smoke a joint—or indulge in one of the many other forms of cannabis consumption. The origins how 4/20 became associated with marijuana use may be shrouded in lore, though this piece from Time magazine suggests happenstance.
Still, the day may mean something different for folks today, as cannabis use is up among the general population. And that will continue to mean headaches for employers that wish to implement drug testing or zero tolerance policies for marijuana use, a substance that is now legal in more than half of U.S. states.
A recent report from Brightfield Group—a cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD) and wellness group research firm—found that awareness and attitudes have changed of late:
- 89% of cannabis consumers are aware of 4/20,
- 49% of cannabis consumers celebrate 4/20 and
- 40% of cannabis consumers report “using more cannabis than usual” to celebrate 4/20.
Actually, Brightfield Group found that these percentages are down slightly from 2019. One possible reason: cannabis use is higher overall and need not be tied to a specific day. Sixty-two percent of consumers reported using cannabis daily or multiple times a day, up from 44% in 2019.
Overall cannabis usage among the general population was 18% in 2021, compared to 10% in 2020, according to data from Brightfield’s Evregi platform.
That mirrors attitudes about cannabis usage. A 2021 Pew Research study found that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe in some kind of marijuana legalization, with 60% supporting legal medical and recreational use and 31% supporting legal medical use only.
Presently, 37 states have legalized medical marijuana use, 20 of which have also legalized recreational use, but that could change.
On April 1, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill (220-204, with few Republicans voting in favor) to end the federal ban on marijuana. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, also referred to as the MORE Act, now awaits review from the U.S. Senate. Despite support from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the MORE Act is considered unlikely to receive the 60 votes needed to pass.
However, the Senate unanimously passed the Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act on March 28 to expand scientific and medical research on cannabis and its compounds, including CBD. Cannabis is currently a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning that research is largely restricted.