April 20 is a day dedicated to getting high and not just on life. Every year, marijuana advocates and fans of cannabis gather to celebrate. From Amsterdam to Colorado, the day signifies more than just ‘getting high’ as people use April 20 to push for more governments to legalise the drug.
The recreational use of marijuana is not for everyone and if you choose to participate, it is important to know the risks and how your insurance coverage may change. More importantly, before you use cannabis, it is essential that you understand and comply with local laws and think about what could happen if something goes wrong.
As for the origin of 420, no one quite knows why the number or day was chosen. It is rumoured a group of students in the 70's arranged to meet at 4:20 PM outside their high school to obtain and use the drug - so 420 became their 'time to get high' code. Apart from that old tale, the origin remains unknown.
Insurance generally only covers you, if being under the influence of drugs has not contributed to the event. So, if you being under the influence of an illicit substance is a factor in your claim, it is unlikely that your insurance will cover you. For example, if you are under the influence of marijuana in Amsterdam and a bus crashes into the cafe where you are sitting, your insurance will cover you. This is because the event would have happened regardless of you taking drugs. However, if you are high and decide to run across the road into oncoming traffic, your insurance will not cover you because this is considered dangerous behaviour that resulted from you being under the influence of an illicit substance.
It is because marijuana can alter your state of mind, similar to being intoxicated from consuming alcohol. You should always read through the PDS to understand what you are and are not covered for - especially if you are planning on consuming cannabis on 420 Day. Keep in mind that if you break local laws or engage in risky or dangerous behaviour, you will not be covered by travel insurance.
Over the last couple of years, marijuana has become legalised for recreational use in some countries and states. In fact, the legal cannabis industry is setting itself up to be a multi-billion dollar endeavour.
Colorado, Washington, Nevada, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, California and Oregon all allow adults to use marijuana recreationally. In these states, you’ll find brick-and-mortar ‘pot shops’ selling every conceivable strain of weed. No more dodgy street corners, and shifty looking dealers, legal marijuana has become trendy in some areas and has the upmarket locations to match.
Weed has been legalised for use in private areas but purchasing marijuana is often difficult and discouraged for tourists. Locals join special clubs that require referrals, proof of residency and many other pieces of paperwork.
Amsterdam has long been held as the cannabis capital of the world. With over 250 coffee shops where marijuana can be bought and smoked legally, tourists have been making pilgrimages to the city with the purpose of getting high for years. You don’t need to be a local to get high either.
It’s illegal to buy marijuana in this South American country, but if you’re offered a joint that’s a different story as you’re usually in the clear. Weird loophole? Yes, but as a result you can even sign up to do cannabis tours.
Smoking marijuana in Jamaica is basically a cultural immersion. The country has been associated with the drug for years thanks to the likes of Bob Marley and his Rastafarian devotees.
It is important to know, even in countries where it is legal, what you can and cannot do to stay in favour of the law and your travel insurance. In countries where cannabis is not legal, we strongly urge you to not engage in any kind of illegal drug-use, as this will make your coverage void. If in doubt, always err on the side of caution so you’re not left uninsured or in jail while overseas.
Independent - Origin of 420
Business Insider - List of places to legally get high