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What parents should know about 4/20

April 20 has evolved into National Pot Smokers

April 20 has evolved into National Pot Smokers Day. Credit: iStock

Q. What is the significance of 4/20? I've heard kids mention it as some kind of unusual day.

A. April 20 has evolved into National Pot Smokers Day. If your kid is talking about big plans for Saturday, make sure they don't involve experimenting with or using marijuana.

"It is a day when we've seen an increase in the number of young people trying marijuana for the first time," says Jeffrey Reynolds, executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. "We've seen, particularly with local high school kids, it is a day on which there tends to be more smoking. In a sense, it does increase a kid's risk."

The day is pronounced four-twenty. The seed of the day apparently was sown at San Rafael High School in California in 1971, when a group of students gathered at 4:20 p.m. to get high. 4/20 evolved into an expression for pot and April 20 a meaningful day in the marijuana subculture. "On many college campuses, there are pro-marijuana events," Reynolds says.

Reynolds suggests parents, as always, talk with their kids about marijuana use. Drugfree.org has material about how to talk to your children, especially if you used marijuana yourself and aren't sure how to address the issue without being hypocritical. "Very often we minimize the potential health issues," Reynolds says. Smoking pot today is different from what it was 30 years ago, he says -- strains can be more potent or contaminated with other drugs. And legal consequences of using can be worse, he says.

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