The code word “420” originally started in the 1970s and is synonymous with pot.
ARIZONA, USA — If you don’t use cannabis, the number 420 may mean nothing to you. According to Time Magazine, the origin of the number and its significance comes from the 1970s drug culture.
A group of students in California met regularly to smoke marijuana at 4:20 p.m. because that’s when extracurricular activities were usually over. The number has come to be a symbol for cannabis users worldwide.
In turn, April 20, 4/20, has become a holiday for those who use cannabis. That was certainly true at The Mint in Tempe, where Raul Molina is the COO.
RELATED: Marijuana in Arizona: Taking a closer look at social equity licenses
“It just became a day to celebrate for people who use cannabis,” Molina said.
The Mint was packed, inside and out on Wednesday. A DJ played music outside as a line of people standing wrapped around the building and another line for the drive-thru did the same. Those purchasing cannabis in person were offered free tacos.
“Big smile on my face. Big smile on everyone’s faces,” Molina beamed.
The State of Arizona began issuing recreational marijuana licenses in January of 2021. Since then, it has issued 169 licenses, the maximum allowable by state law. The final 26 of those licenses were allocated earlier this month.
Eighteen states nationwide, and the District of Columbia and Guam allow the sale and use of recreational marijuana. Another 19 states and three territories have given the green light to medical marijuana, but they have yet to legalize recreational marijuana.
Molina says business is good and that The Mint plans to expand from its three locations to ten by the end of the year. The Mint has also expanded to five other states.
The next step for cannabis is federal legalization, according to Molina.
“I think once it goes federally legal or once the MORE Act is passed, we’ll be able to do banking. We’ll be able to borrow money at a lower rate,” Molina said.
The MORE Act is the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act. It allows for the decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level and the expungement of the legal records of some of the thousands convicted of marijuana possession-related crimes.
The United States House of Representatives passed it on April 1, but the Senate has not yet considered it. Until that bill or something like it passes, the cannabis industry will continue to work exclusively with cash. Molina says that hurts the industry’s legitimacy and also impacts its employees.
“Right now, it’s very difficult. As soon as they find out you work for a shop – a cannabis shop – they’re not allowing you to purchase. They’re not financing you. You’re not allowed to rent,” Molina said.
For now, Molina says the booming industry has more than delivered on the investment made by him and his partners, but he says there is still a lot of upside coming in the next decade.
The Arizona Department of Revenue projected $1.2B in cannabis sales for 2021, and sales actually reached $1.9B. 2022 numbers could be even more significant, and that’s what Molina is counting on.
“This is everything,” Molina said. “And to be honest with you, it’s even a little bit more.”
Up to Speed
Catch up on the latest news and stories on the 12 News YouTube channel. Subscribe today.