For those who don’t know, 420 is kind of like Christmas for the cannabis community… Here’s the story of how it came to be.
This video originally appeared on rollingstone.com
In cannabis culture, the term ‘4/20’ is pretty significant for marijuana smokers. And fittingly, the story of its origin is a pretty hazy one.
Many mistakenly insist that it was once a police code for ‘smoking in progress’. Some offer that it is the number of medical strains, or the number of active chemicals in marijuana.
Bizarrely, some make a connection with it being Hitler’s birthday, and others say it’s the result of multiplying numbers in the title of a Bob Dylan song.
But the truth is that it all began with a group of friends at a California high school, referred to as the ‘Waldos’ by virtue of their chosen hang out spot - a wall outside the school. All of them athletes, it was here that they decided to meet one day when done with their extra curricular activities at 4:20pm.
Their purpose? They had heard that a local Coast Guard could no longer tend to his plot of marijuana plants - and naturally, they wanted to find it.
Their first few trips were unsuccessful as they would meet at 4:20pm, smoke in the car all the way there, and then - unsurprisingly - find nothing. Soon they abandoned the mission altogether... but continued to meet at the wall at 4:20pm for the smoking part.
The term then became more widely used when one of the Waldos got a job as a roadie with The Grateful Dead. The band and its following of Deadheads popularised the term, handing out flyers inviting people to smoke “420” on April 20 at 4:20 p.m.
Now the day is celebrated as a kind of international holiday for marijuana smokers, and the term is used by those in the community and those in the know as a more subtle signal of mutual interest in the good leaf.