Siskiyou Sheriff asks public to be responsible on "4/20"

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office is urging marijuana users and others using the county’s roadways and interacting in public venue sites today to use caution and to think about safety and the welfare of fellow citizens.

“4/20” refers to cannabis culture slang for marijuana consumption, explained Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey in a press release, “especially smoking around the time 4:20 p.m. (on April 20) and it refers to the cannabis-oriented celebrations that take place annually on April 20 throughout the nation.”

Various cannabis industry websites are urging customers and consumers to purchase and use marijuana and to attend related parties, social gatherings, and other events to commemorate the day, Lopey said.

“The tradition allegedly started in the early 1970s after the term was allegedly associated with marijuana consumption when a local San Rafael group of students met at 4:20 p.m. each day to consume marijuana,” Lopey said. “There is another rumor that the term arose from a hijacked Bay Area police agency code. Regardless of the true origin of the term, 4/20 is nationally recognized as a key term associated with marijuana consumption and a rallying cry for cannabis consumers.”

“The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published an article that summarized a study analyzing a 25-year period of 4/20 statistical data involving fatal traffic collisions and concluded there was up to a 12% increase in fatal traffic mishaps on April 20, more than any other days of the year,” Lopey said. Young drivers 20 and younger were more endangered on April 20 than other age groups.

Those planning to use marijuana today should keep in mind that many experts recommend drivers not to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle for six hours after consuming cannabis products that are smoked or vaped.

Users of edible-type marijuana products should not drive eight hours after consuming these substances. Of concern are the high THC levels found in many cannabis products.

Smoked products typically range from 10 to 35% in THC potency, Lopey noted, and concentrated versions of cannabis can contain 60 to 95% or more THC, potentially harmful and dangerous concentrations, Lopey said, especially when operating a motor vehicle.

Lopey added that citizens should remember that Governor Gavin Newsom and local public health officials have asked people not to gather in groups during the COVID-19 emergency and that quarantine and travel restrictions are still in effect.

“Citizens should also remember that driving a motor vehicle under the influence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that renders the ‘high’ experienced by users, is against the law.”

In most cases, Lopey said, possessing an open container of cannabis in a motor vehicle is against the law and it is illegal to consume cannabis products in a vehicle operated on a highway. Those under 21 years of age are generally not allowed to consume marijuana products.

“All motorists should be cautious on April 20 and look out for the impaired driver,” said Lopey. “Citizens are urged not to use marijuana products and drive but if a citizen insists on using a cannabis product, they should use a designated driver or an alternate means of transportation. Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies will be out in force looking for the impaired driver or other signs of public safety problems associated with 4/20-related events.

“Thank you for doing your part to protect the public health and safety of all citizens and our local communities,” Lopey continued. “On April 20 or any day for that matter, should anyone observe an impaired driver operating their vehicle on or near a highway, dial 911, because doing so may help to save a life.”