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Posted at 09:55 AM ET, 04/21/2010

420 vote a 'coincidence,' Catania says

If you have ever come in contact with a heavy marijuana user, you probably know that 420 is the international street term for the drug.

For at least a few decades, high school and college students would get high at 4:20 p.m., when presumably classes are over. The date April 20 (4/20) has also turned into a de facto marijuana-smoking holiday for some.

According to various sources, a group of students at San Rafael High School in San Rafael, Calif., coined the phrase in 1971 when they would meet after school to smoke marijuana at the Louis Pasteur statue at 4:20 p.m. More recently, 4:20 took on a renewed meaning in some circles of pot smokers after Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead was believed to have been found dead about 4:20 p.m. in 1995.

Now, thousands of people on college campuses and elsewhere meet on April 20 for marijuana smoking celebrations, according to various press accounts. Yesterday, on 4/20/2010, when The Washington Post was trying to interview medical marijuana growers for a story about the District's medical marijuana initiative, one grower mentioned we were interrupting his party.

So did the D.C. Council purposely decided to give tentative approval the city's medical marijuana law April 20?

Hardly, said council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), the sponsor of the legislation. Catania notes council legislative meetings are almost always on the third Tuesday of the month.

"The fact the third Tuesday of the month fell on this day is simply a coincidence," Catania said.

And, for the record, Catania states he's never even taken a puff of marijuana.

"I had a mother who scared me to death" about drugs, Catania said.

-- Tim Craig

By Kendra Nichols  |  09:55 AM ET, 04/21/2010

Categories:  D.C. Council

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