Humorously Named S.420 Bill is Serious About Pot Legalization

By Bryan Le 02/11/19

The S.420 bill is the second marijuana-related legislation to have 420 in its name this year.

The national flag of United States with Marijuana leafs as stars, closeup illustration. American cannabis legalization concept.
There's a path to federally legalizing marijuana, and a pair of 420 bills aims to blaze it. Bennymarty |

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) submitted the bill S.420 to Congress on Thursday, aiming to legalize marijuana.

If it passes, the bill would de-schedule marijuana according to the Controlled Substance act, set up a permit structure for marijuana businesses, and tax the new industry’s sales.

It’s the second bill this year to have "420" in its name, sharing the reference to stoner culture with the bill H.R.420, which seeks to regulate marijuana like alcohol.

Bills are prefixed depending on whether they first arise in the Senate or the House of Representatives, so having two such bills arise from both chambers of Congress might indicate that Capitol Hill is changing how it thinks about marijuana.

The reference is sure to turn heads and crack some smiles, but Sen. Wyden isn’t joking when it comes to legalizing it.

“S.420 may get some laughs, but what matters most is that it will get people talking about the serious need to end failed prohibition,” Sen. Wyden wrote in a statement.

He expanded on his statement on Twitter.

“The federal prohibition of marijuana is wrong - plain and simple. Too many lives have been wasted and too many economic opportunities have been missed,” Sen. Wyden tweeted. “It’s time for Congress to respect the will of the voters in Oregon and nationwide, who are demanding common-sense drug policies.”

These statements are very similar to the one released by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), who submitted H.R.420.

“While the bill number may be a bit tongue in cheek, the issue is very serious. Our federal marijuana laws are outdated, out of touch and have negatively impacted countless lives,” Blumenauer wrote in his press release. “Congress cannot continue to be out of touch with a movement that a growing majority of Americans support. It’s time to end this senseless prohibition.”

This isn’t the first time the number "420" has been humorously referenced in legislation. California’s 2003 landmark bill to establish statewide medical marijuana regulations was called SB 420. And Rhode Island introduced a legalization bill in 2017 called S 420.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter