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4/20 falls on Saturday this year.

4/20 falls on Saturday this year.

Ashlee Rezin

4/20: What you need to know for weed's high holiday

Recreational weed has boomed to a $1.5 billion a year industry in Illinois, but the drug is still highly regulated, and consumption is still prohibited in Chicago pot shops.

As a result, many celebrations of weed’s high holiday of 4/20, or April 20, this year are being held in more intimate, private settings, said Lisa Solomon Mann, co-founder of the weed advocacy group Acannability.

“It’s great to see how many events there are,” Mann said. “These events in private spaces are giving people an opportunity to consume in a fun, social atmosphere in a safe way.”

Read on to find out about how 4/20 came to be, some frequently asked questions about the Delta-8 weed alternative, a weed syndrome that causes vomiting, and a list events that fall on the holiday.

How did 4/20 come to be?

Many myths surround 4/20’s origin story. One is that there’s a connection with Hitler’s birthday, which falls on the same day. Another is that 420 is police code for pot smoking in progress.

It’s generally agreed that the term was coined in 1971 by high school students who called themselves the “Waldos” in San Rafael, California, with reference to 4:20 p.m., the time at which they regularly met to try to locate an unattended plot of cannabis plants.

The term was popularized years later during a 1990 concert of the Grateful Dead, for whom one of those students was a roadie, when someone passed out a flyer inviting people to smoke “420” on April 20 at 4:20 p.m., according to Time Magazine. One ended up in the hands of a reporter for High Times magazine, which published a copy of the flyer and enshrined the day in popular culture as an unofficial marijuana holiday.

Recognition of the day has grown as pot becomes more culturally accepted. The Waldos’ story was codified in 2017, when “420” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

“From the Waldos to this is crazy,” said Katie Sullivan, who runs Help Is On The Way, a cannabis industry consulting firm.

House parties are in this year

Many 4/20 events this year are ticketed and are advertised online on websites that didn’t allow them a couple of years ago, Mann said. The parties are legal because they’re held on private property, where consumption is legal, and people bring their own weed, she said.

Sullivan is hosting a party she calls “Cannafest,” which is a mix between a pizza party for her friends and a festival with a DJ, tents and activities.

She’s expecting more than 150 people at the event, which she’s holding a week after the high holiday at a location she doesn’t want to publicly disclose. She doesn’t have a permit.

“It’s kind of like giving homage to the plant,” said Sullivan, who began the yearly party five years ago with fellow “budtenders” after an exhausting day of working 4/20.

Now the party is a mix of her friends in the industry and other people she calls “cannaseurs” — people who are passionate about cannabis.

Is Delta-8 actually weed?

Not exactly, but it still gets users high.

This unregulated sibling of marijuana has exploded in popularity, cropping up in smoke shops across the city. Delta-8 is similar to Delta-9-THC, the psychoactive compound in weed that gets users high, though it’s extracted from hemp and not marijuana. Delta-10 and THC-O are also synthetic, unregulated version of Delta-9, but less popular.

Since Delta-8 is being sold through a loophole in federal and state pot laws, drug producers and sellers are not required to test the products for safety. Tests of some Delta-8 products show them with unsafe levels of heavy metals and other substances, the Chicago Sun-Times has reported. Some legislators and a cannabis industry group want to ban the sale of Delta-8 and other hemp-derived products.

Even some legal weed has been found to contain levels of mold, the Sun-Times reported in 2021.

Are there risks from consuming? What is cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome?

The syndrome that some health care professionals call “scromiting” — a combination of screaming and vomiting — may be tied to long-term use of potent weed. One study found that 97% of people with the condition used marijuana at least once a week. About 75% said they used cannabis regularly for over a year.

Emergency room visits for pot-related vomiting surged in states that legalized recreational weed, another study found.

Studies have found that vomiting usually stops when a user gives up pot.

Events happening Saturday, 4/20

420 Sesh Festin River North features a meet and greet with Vic Mensa, live DJ sets, a magic show and food trucks. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Green Rose Dispensary River North, 612 N. Wells St.

420 Smoke Fest Day Party in Austin, a 21+ event with cash bar, weed and food vendors. 5610 W. Lake St. 2 to 7 p.m. Tickets $4.20 on Eventbrite, $20 at the door.

420 Run/Walk 2024 in Bucktown, the second annual event held by cannabis run club Runners High Chi, a “community of healthy, active stoners.” 9 a.m., west entrance of 606 Trail, 1801 N. Ridgeway Ave. Registration is $50.

420 Canna Carnivalis a festival and fundraiser marking the fifth anniversary of the Canna Equity IL Coalition with carnival games and treats from Chicago food and flower experts. 1 to 6 p.m. West Town, near Ashland and Kinzie.

420 Secret Garden in South Shore. Handcrafted infused cocktails and cuisine with a smoke garden, DJs and local artists. 2226 E. 71st St. 4:20 to 9 p.m. Tickets start at $50.

420 Cabaret and Danksgiving Celebration in Portage Park features a night of music and comedy. 4 to 9 p.m. The Sixpenny Bit, 5800 W. Montrose Ave. Details online.

Truman’s Tap & Grillin West Town hosts a cannabis-inspired beer event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 2159 W. Chicago Ave. No cover.

“The Infinite Blunt” in Uptown. Neo-Futurist Theater hosts a weed-inspired version of its long-running Infinite Wrench play, with “30 dank plays in 60 baked minutes.” 3:20 p.m. at Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland Ave. Tickets are $24.20.

Sabado Night Laughs in Logan Square — 420 Edition. A pot-themed comedy night at 8 p.m., The Pocket at Surge Billiards Logan Square, 3716 W. Fullerton Ave. Tickets $20.

Redline 4/20Â in Lincoln Park. Jam Presents concert with DJ Lindsey Herbert, Neek and Agent Provocateur. 9 p.m. Park West, 322 W. Armitage Ave. Tickets: $25.

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