If you’re a cannabis lover, you may just have plans to celebrate weed on April 20th. After all, it’s become recognized as a holiday entirely dedicated to enjoying marijuana.
But why April 20th? It seems such an odd day to celebrate something. Is there a reason? What’s the origin story of 420?
There are plenty of myths floating around about this. Some say it’s police code that indicates someone is smoking week. Others note that it’s Hitler’s birthday – though we’re not sure how they relate. At any rate, we’re just going to share the generally accepted story.
So What IS the True Origin Story of 420?
It’s interesting how far-reaching the 420 number has become in cannabis culture. Even Beto O’Rourke asked supporters to contribute $4.20 to his campaign to legalize marijuana in Texas.
So how did it all start?
The story that makes the most sense (and has been backed by the characters in it) dates back to 1971 at San Rafael High School in Marin County, California.
It seems that five students (Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich) would meet at 4:20 p.m. everyday to partake near the campus’ statue of chemist Louis Pasteur. It was a workable time because extracurricular activities were done by then.
Soon enough, “420” became code for, “meet you at 4:20 to smoke a doobie.” And since they always met at the same place and at a wall, the gang became known as the “Waldos.”
Going On Safaris
Partaking wasn’t limited to 4:20 by the wall each day though. As one of the members told TIME Magazine in 2017, “We got tired of the Friday-night football scene with all of the jocks. We were the guys sitting under the stands smoking a doobie, wondering what we were doing there.”
So they freed themselves from the below the bleachers and wandered into the world. They started challenging each other to create new and exciting adventures while under the influence and they called these events “safaris.”
So When Did April 20th Come Into Play?
You can thank the Dead.
One of the Waldos’ brothers helped him to get work as a roadie with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh. Their wide reach was what helped to popularize the term 420.
But what about April 20th?
Apparently back in 1990, a group of Deadheads in Oakland handed out flyers inviting folks to smoke “420” on April 20th (4/20) at 4:20 p.m. One of these flyers landed in the hands of Steve Bloom who reported for High Times magazine. The rag printed the flyer a year later and the term 420 stuck. In 1998, High Times acknowledged the Waldos were the creators of the term.
It was the Deadheads who created that flyer who came up with the 4/20 date. Which, of course, makes perfect sense. Once the Dead introduced them to the term, they figured it was high time (sorry) that a holiday be created where everyone could come together and collectively smoke pot.
They also figured there was power in numbers and would have the police outnumbered. As such, events like 420 on Hippie Hill in San Francisco and Hash Bash in Ann Arbor came to be.
And the rest is history.
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