Dig Baton Rouge

Healing herb: 420 celebration focuses on medicinal marijuana

420 (pronounced four-twenty) is a code-term that refers to the consumption of cannabis and as a way to identify oneself with cannabis culture. Observances based on this number include smoking cannabis at the time of 4:20 p.m., as well as celebrating cannabis on the date April 20. Since the early ’70s, 420 has become an unofficial counterculture holiday in North America, where people gather to smoke or consume cannabis, and many events nationwide have a political nature to them, advocating for the legalization of cannabis.

On Wednesday, April 20, Baton Rouge will also be participating in the unofficial observance day with Henry Turner Jr.’s original Listening Room for the third annual 420 Celebration.

Turner and his band Flavor have supported the Medical Marijuana Movement for many years, and it was Turner who came up with the idea to hold an annual festival, which stemmed from his involvement from the Northwest by playing at Hempfest and donating time toward fundraisers for Mercy Centers.

“I went out to the Northwest over 10 years ago to get involved with some of the progressive movements concerning medical marijuana,” Turner said. “I got involved with two organizations out there that were kind of groundbreaking and making some good stuff happen, I thought. So I went out to help out, and we took the band, Henry Turner & Flavor to Oregon first to get involved with Hempfest, and Hempfest was hosting a lot of different organizations who were on the cutting edge of the whole medical marijuana movement.”

From that experience, Turner was inspired to write a couple of songs including “Modern Medication” and “This Herb” for the movement, and after seeing children and elderly being helped via products such as cannabis oil, Turner gained interest in hosting a celebration, which advocated medical marijuana in this area.

It started out with handing out pamphlets and information and has since grown into a yearly music fest.

“I do believe that with enough consciousness, just like other drugs that have come to the forefront to help people, the same thing is going to happen with cannabis,” Turner said.

While many people advocate legalizing marijuana recreationally, Turner explained that is not the focus of his 420 events. Rather, he aims towards helping people who suffer from chronic illnesses, who may have tried everything but cannabis in easing their symptoms.

“Most people relate to the whole day as ‘National Marijuana Smoking Day’ or whatever have you,” Turner said. “That’s not my purpose, and that’s not something that I’m advocating for. Just a common person to go out and smoke marijuana, that’s not my position at all. My position is we’ve seen the miracles of what cannabis can do, and I feel like it should be a situation where people have the option to use the medicine if they need it.”

This year’s celebration Turner has planned to bring in performers who are active in the movement, including Ken Petersen, a former member of John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band. He recorded with Lennon and was with him for two years. In his career, he has worked with everyone from Chuck Berry to The Jefferson Starship and has also played with members of the Grateful Dead and Widespread Panic on his last tour.

“He was an integral part of the movement over in the Northwest,” Turner said. “And for the first time, he’s coming to Baton Rouge.”

Also performing are keyboard player and singer/songwriter Jordan Anderson and guitar and bass player Guy Schwartz, who has toured with ZZ Top, Ted Nugent and Little Feet. DJ Chat will spin tunes between performances, and local artists Carl Jacobson, who will be debuting his “St. Theresa in Ecstasy,” along with surreal artist Leiana Loveday Funck.

“They’re coming up with some really good art that’s going to reflect the whole observance of the scene,” Turner said.

Along with the food, music and art, a drum circle will be led by Louis Lipinski and attendees are encouraged to bring their hand drums. Guest speakers, to be announced, will discuss the Medical Marijuana Movement in the event’s goal to bring more conscious information to the local community.

“So we can get rid of the past and move forward with the potential of what this could bring to the table with the healing component for folks who may need it,” Turner said. “

Admission is $20. A $25 ticket price includes an all you can eat VIP Louisiana Style buffet and autographed Listening Room T-shirt. For additional information call 225-802-9681 or visit br420fest.com.

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