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4/20 sells high: Corporate America embraces marijuana's big day

In this image, a man in a suit takes a selfie while smoking.
A celebration the legalization of marijuana in Toronto. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Potheads have for decades celebrated their love of marijuana on April 20. But the counter-culture celebration, once all about getting stoned, now is so mainstream that Corporate America is starting to embrace it, AP reports.

What's new: Many businesses inside and outside the multibillion-dollar cannabis industry are using tomorrow, 4/20, to roll out marketing and social media messaging.

  • Lyft is offering a $4.20 credit on a single ride in Colorado and in select cities in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Carl's Jr. is using a Denver restaurant to market a hamburger infused with CBD, a non-intoxicating molecule found in cannabis.

Why it matters, from Kit Yarrow, consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University: "[B]rands that associate themselves with cannabis kind of get that contact high ... cooler by association."

Where it stands: Marijuana normalization has snowballed since 2012, when Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize recreational use.

  • Eight more states followed, including California, Oregon and Michigan.
  • Medical marijuana is legal in two-thirds of states.
  • Baby boomers, one of the fastest-growing groups of cannabis consumers, and women are growing the industry as they use CBD as a "wellness tool," according to data collected by Eaze, a California cannabis technology company.

Go deeper: Marijuana, psychedelics get a second look from Big Pharma