What is 420 and where does the term come from

What is 420 and where does the term come from?

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If you’ve been wondering what 420 means and where this number even comes from, keep reading. We’ll be diving deep into the details today!

What is 420? Some background info

You don’t have to be a marijuana aficionado or pot smoker to be familiar with the term 420, synonymous today with smoking cannabis. But where does the phrase originate from and how did the 20th of April become a worldwide holiday for marijuana smokers? Let’s take a closer look.

What is 420 in cannabis culture? Some misconceptions

There are a few misconceptions about the humble origins of 420, some people say that it is police code for catching people with weed, some reference Bob Dylan’s song ‘Rainy Day Women #12 & 35’ (12*35=420), and some great conspiracy theorists even go as far as drawing links with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, whose birthday fell on 4/20.

420 in San Rafael high school

However, the true beginnings of 420 in marijuana culture are much simpler and come from a heartwarming tale of friendship. In 1971 the term was first coined in San Rafael, San Francisco, California, by five high school students - Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich. The five students were close friends and formed a band called the Waldos.

There was a rumor in San Rafael that somewhere in the town there was an abandoned government crop of cannabis, the Waldos were so set on finding this crop that they even had a treasure map.

Finding the abandoned cannabis crop (class B drug) became a regular after-school activity, but before doing so the group would meet up and smoke marijuana. By the time school and extracurricular activities were over, the chosen time to meet was 4:20 pm by the Louis Pasteur statue. The code word was original ‘Louis 4:20’ but was later abbreviated to just 4:20.

What is 420? The details

Here’s some more info on how things progressed, courtesy of Time Magazine:

“The shenanigans continued long after 4:20 p.m., too. The group challenged each other to find ever-more-interesting things to do under the influence, calling their adventures “safaris.”

Later, Reddix’s brother helped him get work with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh as a roadie, so the band is said to have helped popularize the term “420.” On Dec. 28, 1990, a group of Deadheads in Oakland handed out flyers that invited people to smoke “420” on April 20 at 4:20 p.m. One ended up with Steve Bloom, a former reporter for High Times magazine, an authority on cannabis culture. The magazine printed the flyer in 1991 and continued to reference the number. Soon, it became known worldwide as code for marijuana. In 1998, the outlet acknowledged that the “Waldos” were the “inventors” of 420.”

Fast forward to the present time, and 420 has since become a sort of countercultural holiday. Every April 20th at 4:20 pm, smokers get together to smoke cannabis and celebrate their favorite plant — and the freedom they have to partake of it.

“420 has become iconic amongst cannabis culture and has made its mark in history in cult classics like Pulp Fiction and Lost in Translation, where the clocks are set to 4:20 pm.”

It’s 420 somewhere: summing things up

420 means different things to different people...and that’s totally okay. As long as it involves a celebration of the Cannabis Sativa plant species, we’re in! For some people, smoke cannabis is the way to go. For others, hemp and its CBD content are the way to go.

If you're interested in discovering more ways to connect with nature, feel free to explore this insightful article titled 'How to Unite with Nature?'

As long as you take some time to nourish your endocannabinoid system and feel great, you’ll be celebrating 4:20 in style.


1. What is 420?

Just as cannabis can be consumed in various ways, cannabis culture has many different cannabis traditions. One of those traditions is 420. 420 refers to cannabis consumption. It is named after 4:20 pm, because that was once the time many cannabis users would meet to consume cannabis. The term was first coined by a group of cannabis users, who created the tradition.

2. Why 420 is celebrating on April 20?

April 20 is a specific day of the year which cannabis users have chosen to celebrate cannabis. It has been celebrated for decades, but was originally started by a group of cannabis users in California. The cannabis community has chosen April 20 as cannabis day because it is believed that exactly 420 years earlier to the day, cannabis was outlawed in a certain region. No one is certain which region of the world cannabis was outlawed exactly 420 years earlier, but cannabis users decided to celebrate cannabis all around the world on this day.

3. What is the real story of 420?

To find out the real story of 420, cannabis users have to go back a few decades.

In the 1970s cannabis was still illegal in many places around the world. A few cannabis users in California started organizing cannabis meet-ups at 4:20 pm, because that was once cannabis users smoked cannabis at this time. The cannabis meet-ups became more popular, and caught the attention of local cannabis farmers in California. Unwilling to embrace cannabis culture, cannabis farmers in California told their friends about the cannabis meetups. Local law enforcement quickly caught on since cannabis farms were illegal, and cannabis users were warned to stop using cannabis at 4:20 pm.

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