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Four Twenty

Four Twenty

FOUR-TWENTY by Paige Hassen of Jaden Merimee & Jenna Nguyen / styled by El’Xavier Caldwell & assisted by Anna Malonson / directed by Melanie Do / graphic design by Cassidy Marshall

By Ella See

It’s safe to say Generation-Z has grown up in a world heavily divided, more so than some of our older friends and family. There are more reasons than you can count on your fingers for the harsh borders between people, whether its beliefs, upbringing, ethnicity, sexuality, you name it. What’s easier to count? The things that do still unite our society today amongst widespread hostility. Those reasons are few and far between. At the end of the day, no matter how controversial, one of the simplest yet most effective ways to bring people together is Marijuana. Yes, you read that right. Marijuana. Cannabis. Pot. Ganja. It has become exceedingly difficult to put differences aside, but that can be done for a joint shared on a front porch. In these moments, it doesn’t matter who you voted for, or what God you believe in, people share a love for recreational Marijuana. It unites in strange ways, in peaceful ways. Despite constant discourse around its legality, the plant isn’t going anywhere. Cannabis use has been dated back to Roman and Greek texts, centuries upon centuries of prevalence. If it’s been in the hands of humankind for that long, why fight so hard to villainize it?
Aside from Marijuana’s ability to integrate individuals from all corners of life, we also can credit weed for various creative processes whether it be art, music or fashion. Marijuana is imbedded in all kinds of self-expression and for some it helps to elevate creativity. Specifically, the music industry is heavily attributed to the euphoric stimulation of Cannabis, and it’s not unlikely to hear it mentioned in your favorite songs from genres across the board. A Dartmouth article written on the influence of weed on modern music perfectly explains the history of the plant, and how it has slowly intertwined with song writing and production. Marijuana was present in the 1920’s, partly in thanks to jazz player Louis Armstrong who recorded “an instrumental track called “Muggles” in 1928”- the track title was slang for Marijuana at the time (Daher). Author Joe Daher additionally mentioned the dismissive outlook many had on weed in these early decades, partly due to the drugs involvement in Black culture. This issue remains carrying a negative stigma around Cannabis as its often a tool used to discriminate against African American groups. Nevertheless, continuing into the 1970s, The Beatles release ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ which started to subtly introduce Marijuana references to America. Daher made sure to mention that the song was presumably influenced by legendary Bob Dylan and his efforts to introduce weed to John Lennon. Just a decade before this, on the topic of weed, Dylan told an interviewer “’Now these things aren’t drugs; they just bend you're mind a little.” Of course, we can’t discuss Cannabis and the music industry without thanking Bob Marley who believed that “Herb is the healing of the nation.” It’s no secret that Marley brought light to reggae music by lifting Jamaican culture and spreading love for Marijuana. His style of music and infamous songs like “Kaya”- a tune directly dedicated to what the title says- has created foundations for spiritual and religious Cannabis use, but especially in the realm of music. Marley brought peace to the concept of smoking weed, and you could say he had a part in opening people’s minds to the benefits.
Again, events like Woodstock prove just how vast Marijuana became. Music festivals already bring people together to share love for live music, but the 1969 Woodstock festival brought in a massive 500,000 attendees. Despite many other drugs- mostly hallucinogenic substances- Cannabis was one of the most used at the festival, proving again that smoking weed is strongly connected to music appreciation. Not only are the artists behind our favorite songs lighting up along the creative process, but fans in all kinds of audiences do the same out of love and celebration for music. Music and Marijuana go hand in hand. Peaceful, adored and bonding.
Pot is becoming common in realms of art as well. Why do some people feel more creative while under the influence of Cannabis? It’s because ingestion of the plant stimulates the human brains frontal lobe- which happens to be the same part of the brain where we see high activity in creative minded individuals according to scientists. The more legal smoking weed becomes across the U.S. , the more common it is to see small business integrate it within art. The same way some interactive painting studios pair classes with wine or mimosas, now similar business that offer painting classes are including Marijuana use. A studio in Denver that offers art sessions is branded as ‘Puff Pass and Paint’- Cannabis friendly classes. Marijuana again can be traced back to the early 17th century where anthropologists have evidence to believe that playwriter William Shakespeare smoked. Globally known names like Picasso have also been linked to Cannabis use, commonly in part to its creative breakthrough abilities. What do weed and art have in common? Both pour endless opportunities for unique output. Part of art is letting ideas flow, letting the human brain put emotion and stories onto canvases, pages, walls, whatever it may be. Marijuana as we know is a stimulant, it gives assistance in this process. It can depend on the person, however. It’s not to say productivity stems from Cannabis for all users, but often, it helps open the minds of those who partake, and in turn, it allows for creative flow which is why many attribute its side effects to artistic circulation. Music is art, perspective is art, and art is subjective. The common denominator here is that weed enhances these forms of expression.
Reviewing these broad concepts of Cannabis presence in society might not fully illustrate people’s appreciation for its effect. When speaking with a handful of Central Michigan students who partake in smoking recreationally, there’s a common theme across the board: it brings enjoyment and social facilitation. To preface, no matter the benefits of ingesting Marijuana, it can still create dependency. It can be addictive, therefore being careful and intentional with Cannabis use is just as important as its positive aspects. The individuals interviewed all agreed with this precaution, and most of them added that they only partake in the activity socially anyways. “For me it’s something that winds me down at the end of the day. It’s what I do to bring relaxation after a long week,” said an anonymous student. “I smoke for a lot of reasons, it helps me to sleep in certain circumstances, it brings good vibes to social gatherings, and it definitely helps with anxiety for me and a lot of other people,” another user explained. Anxiety is yet another benefit of using the stimulant. Most of the students we asked mentioned this to be the reason they started smoking. Certain strains of Cannabis contain compounds like THC and CBD that have relaxing properties, in turn it can shift focus away from anxious thoughts and feelings. THC within these strains can also improve mood and induce feelings of euphoria and contentment. Another anonymous individual stated that “Weed enhances a lot of experiences for me like watching TV and being productive with homework. Sometimes I’ll smoke before I go to the gym too, personally it relaxes me and improves my workouts.” THC commonly heightens sensory perception which is why some users will ingest Marijuana before seeing a movie in theaters or going to an aquarium. It elevates visual and physical awareness while also bringing the comfort of relaxation.
The argument surrounding Marijuana’s purpose may continue to start fires here and there, appearing and disappearing in legislation and lawful conversations, but it’s impact on history and especially present-day creativity won’t cease anytime soon. Perhaps Marley’s spiritual connotation for Cannabis wasn’t so dramatized. He saw its capability to bring joy and connect people, which is exactly why people still enjoy smoking to this day. So before jumping to cynical conclusions surrounding Marijuana, think about its inspiring past and peaceful power.

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