Meet The Founding Fathers Of 420: The Waldos | Forbes

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In 1971, a group of high school students invented a numerical code for stoners that has grown into the ultimate high holiday. Fifty years later, federal legalization for marijuana is no longer a pipe dream—and cannabis is poised to become America’s next $100 billion industry.

Today, on the 50th anniversary of 420, the U.S. government still considers cannabis one of the most dangerous drugs and technically speaking, every CEO, investor and employee of a state-legal marijuana company is breaking federal law.

But the irony is that what started as a joke among teenagers has blossomed into the ultimate high holiday—the Black Friday for cannabis. Last year, sales during the week of 420 surpassed a record of $126 million across six states tracked by data firm BDSA. And the U.S. cannabis industry, which reported record annual sales of $17.5 billion last year, is poised to reach $41 billion in annual sales by 2025, according to Cowen.

There is still plenty of work to be done to legalize cannabis at the federal level, but if Congress thinks it is still up for debate in America, they must be high. The country has long passed the tipping point: According to the latest Gallup Poll, 68% of Americans believe marijuana should be legal and the latest Quinnipiac poll puts it even higher, at 70% of registered voters.

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