What is 420? | The Cannabis Holiday Explained
On April 20 – or 4/20 – marijuana advocates around the world gather to celebrate, in a variety of ways, the cannabis plant. Thousands gather in cities across the world to consume marijuana in places where it is legal to do so, as well as places where it isn’t.
But what is 420?
If you are not familiar with the term “420” as it is used in the marijuana culture, here’s a look at its origins and its meaning.
1. The term “420” was first associated with marijuana use in 1971.
2. It was the time of day when a group of California high school students who called themselves the “Waldos” decided to meet to hunt for a rumored abandoned stash of cannabis. The students would meet at 4:20 p.m. near a statue of Louis Pasteur on the grounds of San Rafael High School to go to search for the crop. If one of the Waldos called for a “4:20 Louis” it meant that everyone was to meet at the statue to search for the marijuana.
3. Eventually, “4:20 Louis” became just “4:20,” and the number was recognized not as a call to hunt for the abandoned cannabis, but as a code word for smoking pot.
4. The members of the band the Grateful Dead moved to the San Rafael area from San Francisco in 1970. They had connections to some of the parents of the Waldos, and eventually picked up the phrase and began using it.
5. The term spread past San Rafael with the help of the Grateful Dead and after a story about the Waldos appeared in “High Times.” Another story in the magazine suggested that 4:20 was an “accepted” hour to use cannabis.
6. April 20 is observed around the country and around the world as a time to gather together to smoke pot. In places where it is illegal to sell it, it is often given away on that day.
7. Some believe that the number 420 refers to the anniversary of the deaths of Bob Marley or Jimi Hendrix. It does not. Neither died on April 20.
8. It is not a police code for someone smoking marijuana, either.