We’re just going to say it: April 20 is exhausting. Thirsty brands. SEO farms masquerading as “media brands.” The seventh-grade edgelord who owns Twitter. What started as a wink-wink holiday built on a wink-wink teenage ritual has officially become as commonplace (and inescapable) as any other greeting-card tradition.
Which is fitting, if you think about it. “There’s a surreal cultural transformation happening across the country,” wrote Livia Gershon in 2019, “from dime bags bought and sold in avoidance of the police to meticulously packaged extracts and edibles in plain view at shopping centers.”
Big business brings big changes. It also makes for some conflicted feelings. As Peter Rubin pointed out in 2021, “the stories of post-legalization America are in many ways the stories of the nation itself.” In fact, that goes for any story about cannabis in the U.S. — money has always been lurking in the background, like a sight gag in a Cheech & Chong movie. Legalization has simply erased the distinction between background and foreground.
Thankfully, that flattening hasn’t diluted cannabis’ stature in the world of journalism and essay. It remains a potent force for introspection and comedy, as demonstrated in Jen Doll’s “Edible Complex.” With its newfound legitimacy, it’s become a fertile breeding ground for science writing. And there’s always the economic angle. So no matter how you choose to celebrate this year, take some time to revisit our many 420-friendly original pieces and recommendations.
A New Leaf: A Post-Legalization Cannabis Reading List
Five stories demonstrating how the green rush nurtured the best and worst that U.S. capitalism had to offer.
Smoking: A Legal Weed Reading List
The economy, the culture, and the promise of cannabis.
Weed Reads: A Reading List About Marijuana
A reading list of eight stories on marijuana.
How Weed Strains Get Their (Amusing, Provocative, Downright Wacky) Names
The Feud Between a Weed Influencer and Scientist Over Puking Stoners
Driving While Baked? Inside the High-Tech Quest to Find Out
Drink Up, Stoners
CBD is Everywhere. But is it a Scam?
Queens of the Stoned Age
The Spectacular Explosion of Cannabis’ Ambitious Startup MedMen
This is how part of cannabis industry came down from its high.
The Great Cannabis Experiment: Ian Brown on Growing Your Own Weed
Weed? Turns out it’s tricky to grow your own.
The Hackers Who Led a Young Woman to Her Death
How did an ambitious, kind 23-year-old go from working at a California cannabis dispensary to living in Manila with an internet criminal?
The Section 8 Cannabis Eviction Problem
Although many states legally allow the use of medical marijuana, federal law still prohibits its possession in federally subsidized housing, so many residents live in fear of eviction.
One Consequence of Cannabis Legalization is Market Saturation
Supply side economics is clogging the overstuffed bowl of Oregon’s booming cannabis market, and there are not enough lighters in Oregon to smoke all the product.
Speaking Candidly about Opioid Dependence and Legal, Safe Alternatives
One journalist shares what her experience with prescription painkillers taught her about decriminalization and recovery.
How Women Are Taking the Legal Weed Industry into the Future
How a plant might smash the patriarchy.
Queen Victoria’s Cramps and the History of Medicinal Marijuana in Europe
Social clubs in Europe are part of a centuries-long tradition of treating maladies with cannabis.