How to leave 4/20 on a high note

By Adri Pray, Editor-at-large

Rejoice! The 2023rd April 20th celebration is nearly upon us!

In honor of Thursday’s holiday, here’s an easy-to-read guide on how to participate in the festivities while keeping yourself and others safe.

Know your rights.

Safety is of the utmost importance. This article is not meant to replace any health advice from medical professionals, nor is it meant to encourage or endorse underage use, possession, distribution, selling, or social sharing of marijuana on Emerson’s campus or federal property. Participating in this activity is—above all else—a privilege, and it’s your responsibility to keep yourself safe and educated.

That being said, it’s important to understand Massachusetts laws surrounding recreational use. Anyone under 21-years-old is not allowed to buy or possess marijuana unless deemed medically necessary. Individuals over the age of 21 may possess up to one ounce of cannabis on their person. Individuals between the ages of 18 and 20 caught attempting to buy marijuana will face a civil penalty of a $100 fine and must complete a drug awareness program.

Because college-aged students are some of the most ~persistent~ consumers of marijuana, it’s also important to know the risks associated with marijuana usage on college campuses.

Emerson College abides by federal law and maintains the prohibition of all cannabis usage on campus. To remain eligible for federal funding, Emerson opted into the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act which restricts all students—regardless of age—from using, selling, manufacturing, possessing, and socially partaking on campus. Violations of campus policy will result in a referral to Community Standards.

Students in violation of campus policies are at risk of disciplinary action at the college’s discretion. In some instances, it’s completely possible to lose your financial aid, which would majorly blow given that Emerson’s tuition will be four percent higher going into the 2023-24 academic year.

Regardless, be prepared to take responsibility for your actions.

Preparation is key.

As it will be sunny and reach a high of 65 degrees in Boston on Thursday, I imagine most smokers will be out and about all day. Sunscreen is a necessity! Please be advised that the sun is unforgiving. Wear some sunscreen before you go out and generously reapply often.

Much like any other activity, hydration is key—bring a water bottle, preferably a large one, and be prepared to refill throughout the day. Eye drops will also be your best friend for those who wear contacts or get notoriously bloodshot eyes.

Same advice goes for food: snacks are a must on this glorious holiday, and because Emerson has so graciously provided students a day without classes, take advantage of campus facilities and grab a sandwich before settling outside. Make sure you have enough to sustain yourself throughout the day—overpreparation is always better.

Make sure you have a friend with you or that someone knows your location at all times. Choose someone responsible and reliable. By the end (or beginning) of the day, you’ll be glad to have a way to get home safe.

Be respectful.

If you light up around children, you’re not welcome in my rotation. Children can’t consent, pedestrians may have sensitivities to smoke, and (for a lot of college students) it’s not legal. The risk outweighs the benefits.

Much like secondhand tobacco smoke, secondhand marijuana smoke has permanent health effects on developing brains. Research is still ongoing, but it is believed to impact the developing brain’s executive function, memory, and IQ, which can be costly for youth and young adults.

Between 2002 and 2015, cigarette smoking around children went down approximately five percent, while marijuana usage rose nearly seven percent. Experts project that number to continue to rise as long as marijuana usage continues to become legal.

Advice given to tobacco smokers applies to marijuana smokers: the best thing you can do for the youth in your life is to not smoke at all and if you do, never smoke around children or those who cannot give consent. Smoke lingers; do not partake in any enclosed spaces where children may be after you’re gone.

The first step is finding a safe space where you can partake. This isn’t your dorm room or the Boston Common or Public Garden, as that would be a direct violation of campus housing guidelines and the law, but a nice, quiet place where you can hang out with your friends.

Once you’ve located the spot, check your surroundings. If you see someone not partaking or you see a family with small children, it’s probably not the best idea to start just yet. Wait for the right moment in every situation. And be sure to partake in a safe space. It doesn’t take much for the high to start feeling scary, so being aware of your surroundings and the different characters around you is always a good idea.

Understand the boundaries between yourself and others.

Whether you’ve been smoking for five years or five minutes, understanding where to draw the line is the most important piece of advice I can offer you. Greening out is just about the worst way you could start/end your day—don’t be that guy.

There’s nothing wrong with not being a habitual stoner, but if you plan to partake in the day’s activities, solo or with a group, pace yourself. You don’t have to keep up with your friends who “go for a walk” every day—do what feels good for you and stop when you need to. You can always smoke more, but never less. With practice, you’ll be right up there with your more experienced friends.

Same goes for habitual smokers: I know Thursday’s holiday is what some (me) might call the “best day of the year,” but let’s keep in mind that you’re a human, probably a student, and marijuana costs a lot of money. If you’re burning through your stash and know you won’t have enough to last you the next week before you can replenish, slow down.

Be aware of non-smokers. And non-smokers, be aware of stoners.

Another important part of etiquette is respecting those who do not partake. Non-smokers generally know what’s up in the middle of April, but there are some who don’t respect the lifestyle. From experience, if you leave them alone, they’ll leave you alone. It’s also never okay to pressure someone into using if they don’t want to partake. Some of us are just there for the vibes. It’s totally possible to congregate in a large group without participating, just be ready for secondhand smoke.

To my non-smoker friends: you already know the areas in which those celebrating will congregate, I don’t have to spell it out for you, so avoid those areas if you can. If you can’t, well, you could always wear a mask while walking through.

The most important thing to do on either side of the aisle is respect how each celebrates 4/20. Overall, this is a celebration of the Earth and allows people to come together. Other than HempFest, this is the most acceptable day to be a stoner, so take care of yourself and others and have fun!