Maybe friends used to get a contact high just from walking into your college apartment on a Saturday night, but you have long since retired the bong because you’ve got kids or a job where they hold random drug tests.
Or maybe you are a self-avowed square like me, who despite having graduated from a school with a place called Bong Hill, never danced with Mary Jane and who for a long time wasn’t completely sure what the term 420 meant. It’s traced back to 1971, when a group of high schoolers from San Rafael, Calif., known as the Waldos, agreed to meet at 4:20 p.m. with map in hand to search for a plot of marijuana plants that had been abandoned by its owner.
The notion of 420 as a countercultural holiday became a thing in the 1990s when a group of Grateful Dead fans posted flyers in Oakland, Calif., urging fans to light up on April 20 at 4:20 p.m.
We don’t care where you fall on the pot spectrum. We’re here to suggest pot-themed movies and TV shows for just about every altered state:
If you want a classic with your chronic: Up In Smoke
Pot comedy got its start this 1978 Cheech and Chong caper, in which the comics unwittingly drive a “fiberweed” van built entirely out of hardened marijuana resin from Mexico to the USA while being tailed by an incompetent narcotics officer (Stacy Keach).
If you want to see how much attitudes about marijuana have changed: Reefer Madness
Picture an after-school special with 1930s production values and you’ve got Reefer Madness, a black-and-white morality tale intended to scare youth away from experimenting with “the burning weed with its roots in hell” — which, if you believed the film, might lead teens to commit murder, suicide or order someone to play the piano as fast as possible. But by the 1970s, Reefer Madness came to be seen as a case study of everything pot opponents got wrong — and something unintentionally hilarious to watch while blazing up. It even inspired a 2005 musical parody starring Alam Cumming and Kristen Bell.
If you’re going to be at it for a while: That ’70s Show
Eight seasons’ worth of basement antics from Eric Forman and his friends should be more than enough to outlast anyone’s weed supply.
Watch That ’70s Show on Netflix
If Sean Penn will always be Spicoli to you: Fast Times at Ridgemont High
If you’re under 30, you’ve probably only ever known Penn, a two-time Oscar winner, as a Serious Dramatic Actor, having played a grieving father in Mystic River, a condemned prisoner in Dead Man Walking and a gay political icon in Milk. But Penn’s big break came in this 1982 high school comedy, in which he played stoner dude Jeff Spicoli, whose worldview can be summed up thusly: “Surfing’s not a sport, it’s a way of life, it’s no hobby. It’s a way of looking at that wave and saying, ‘Hey bud, let’s party!’
Watch Fast Times at Ridgemont High free with your HBO subscription at HBOGo.com
If you want to feel alright, alright, alright: Dazed and Confused
Like Penn, Matthew McConaughey has graduated to playing Oscar-caliber roles— and thinking deep thoughts in Lincoln commercials. But the difference is that McConaughey still begins his Oscar acceptance speech by saying, “Alright, alright, alright!” And that unscripted line came from his very first scene in his very first movie: Dazed and Confused, the 1993 Richard Linklater comedy in which the unknown Texan played a 20-something who had nothing better to do than hang out with high schoolers on the last day of classes.
If you like bromantic bud comedies: Pineapple Express
Up in Smoke may have invented the stoner movie genre, but this 2008 comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco as a process server and a pot dealer having a very bad night gave rise to an entire strain of marijuana. “As we were writing it,” Rogen explained to Cannabist (in 2014), we said, ‘If we’re ever at a weed store or buying weed and someone offers us Pineapple Express, we’ll know we’ve made it!”
If you still quote Chappelle’s Show regularly: Half-Baked
Catch glimpses of Dave Chappelle’s future greatness (including his Lil’ Jon impression) in this 1998 comedy, which he co-wrote and starred in as Thurgood Jenkins, a research laboratory janitor who sells the pot intended for use in an FDA study in order to bail his friend out of jail. Eventually, Thurgood and his pot-selling alter ego, Mr. Nice, become a little too successful, incurring the wrath of the local drug dealer.
Rent Half-Baked on iTunes
If you want to get in touch with your inner child: Blues Clues
Granted, you’d have a more authentic THC-induced experience with Teletubbies (which, let’s face it, only made sense to babies and stoners) but we’re going to assume you don’t feel like paying by the episode or season to toke along with Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po. So save your money and watch Steve Burns try to figure out what his dog is trying to tell him.
If you think it’s fun to mix Mickey Mouse and marijuana: Fantasia
More than 75 years after its release, this animated classic, consisting of eight segments — including one on the history of Earth and another featuring Mickey as a sorcerer’s apprentice — remains Disney’s trippiest film, and the best companion for cannabis.
Rent Fantasia on Amazon
If you like to combine your sinsemilla with superheroes: Chronic-Con Episode 420: A New Dope
Comedian and @midnight panelist Doug Benson has managed to milk two documentaries out of his marijuana habit: 2008’s Super High Me, in which he took a cue from Morgan Spurlock and spent a month off of pot and the next on a lot of it, and 2015’s Chronic-Con, in which he spends an entire Comic-Con stoned. And he may be onto something: being high would at least make it easy to stomach the exorbitant wifi fees at the convention center.
Watch Chronic-Con on Amazon Prime
If you’re not into stoner culture but are curious about pot’s (legit) medicinal uses: Weediquette
This Viceland documentary series hosted by Krishna Andavolu is a bit like HBO’s Real Sports for pot. It addresses marijuana culture, business, science and legalization, but it also delves into the drug’s therapeutic uses. In Season 2, the show tackled its applications for treating cancer and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Season 3, which kicks off this week, will take a look at its prospective uses for helping people with autism.
If you like to contemplate the universe while high: Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey
At least you’ll know you are high while watching Neil deGrasse Tyson ponder the mysteries of the galaxy. As opposed to the time I nearly collided with Neil deGrasse Tyson while getting on the elevator at work and wondered if the cold medicine I was on at the time was messing with my head. (Thankfully, we had photographic evidence of his visit, proving that I did not hallucinate the whole thing.)
Watch Cosmos on Netflix
If you are so stoned that you can’t remember your Netflix password: Dark Side of the Rainbow
Kids today don’t realize how easy they have it. Back in the day (that would be the early 1990s), you needed two people to watch the original mashup: one to man the VHS player and start The Wizard of Oz while the second started the recording of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon at precisely the right second.
Now all you need to watch the scarecrow dance to Brain Damage is this YouTube link. Where’s the sense of accomplishment in that?