The high hopes of St. Louisans on Missouri’s first legal 420 Day
Cannabis enthusiasts and the pop culture-savvy will tell you that April 20 is a special day full of laughter, fellowship, rest and good eats.
The origins of 420 Day are hazy. The number has been linked to rumored police radio codes that supposedly indicate whether there is marijuana on a suspect, and it’s also a reference to a popular afterschool meeting time to smoke, popularized by a group of California teens in the 1970s. In any case, 420 Day is becoming a larger holiday as more U.S. states legalize the substance for recreational use. Several St. Louisans told St. Louis on the Air that it is high time for Missouri to celebrate legalized recreational cannabis — and also that there is still work to be done.
“I love cannabis and the fact that it’s legalized in Missouri,” Johnny Steez said. “It’s cool that it’s legalized, but free the homies that are locked up for possession.”
Growing up, Jacob Kierczynski often heard his mother’s concerns about cannabis — she “despised” it, he said, and thought it was much more dangerous than alcohol. “It’s interesting to see how times have changed and how she’s changed with them, too. I feel like a lot of people are dropping their stubbornness towards it and being, at least, accepting of it.”
Velda City resident Stephanie Nunes has suggested that her mother try smoking marijuana to help with her insomnia — an offer that Nunes’ mom has declined. “She thinks all substances are the devil, so she’s not trying [it].”
Despite Missouri’s legalization of cannabis and her changing opinion about its use, Patti of south St. Louis has yet to visit a dispensary in Missouri. “I'm a millennial…[I went] through the DARE program, and you always hear marijuana is the gateway drug. [I’ve heard], ‘If you smoke weed you're going to be smoking crack soon. And then I grew up in church, so you know, you just stay away from it or things like that,” she said. (Patti asked to not have her last name on record to avoid family conflict.) “As I've gotten older and more secure with myself, I've seen people who I love, respect and care about [that are] smokers… it's made me feel a lot more comfortable [around cannabis].”
Missouri has reason to celebrate — dispensaries across the state sold more than $126 million in recreational and medical cannabis in March alone.
St. Louis Public Radio’s economic development reporter Eric Schmid told St. Louis on the Air that retailers have struggled to keep up with consumer demand. Despite Missouri having almost three times the amount of cultivators as Illinois, strong demand in the Show-Me State has led to a tighter cannabis supply.
“When you have a supply crunch, it's easy to forget that this is a crop,” Schmid said. “It takes time to plant, to germinate, to grow and to harvest. You can't just flip a switch and say, ‘Hey, all of a sudden there's more cannabis.’”
To hear more reflections on cannabis culture and predictions of future marijuana sales in Missouri, listen to this St. Louis on the Air on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast or Stitcher, or click the play button below.
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org.