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Happy 420! The History of a Stoner Holiday

Happy 420! The History of a Stoner Holiday

At some point in your life, you may have heard the term “420 friendly” or another comment related to 420. April 20th, 4/20, is now observed every year as a cannabis celebration and time of connection among cannabis-loving people.

What is 420? Not everyone knows what it is or where the term originated. Many people who consume cannabis use this term, and some who use it are also unclear on its origins. With “420 Day” on the horizon, we wanted to offer you the history and heritage of this numerical term.

In this post, we will share the story and explore:

  • What does 420 mean?
  • Who started it and when?
  • How is 420 communicated?

What Does 420 Mean?

When asking the question, “What is 420?” there are many myths and stories. It has been rumoured to represent many things, including a police code.

420 was initially used as a code word meaning “let’s smoke cannabis.” During “pot prohibition,” it was used as a code to identify people who were pro-cannabis.

The true origin of the cannabis culture term 420 started with a group of five students who smoked together at 4:20 pm. They shared the term with the band The Grateful Dead, and it caught on. Forty years later, in 2021, 420 is still used.

What is 420 Today?

420 has evolved from a treasure-hunting adventure into an activist movement advocating for freedom and a protest of stringent cannabis laws. With less red tape around cannabis today, 420 is now a time of gathering and connection.

Modern-day 420 is a celebration in North America and some other countries around the world. Pre-covid, festival-like gatherings were held in many major cities to bring cannabis consumers and supporters together as a community.

This year, 420 will look a little different due to pandemic protocols. Be sure to note and follow the guidelines where you live. Coming together to smoke cannabis on 420 will be a virtual event for many this year.

Who Started 420 and When Did it Originate?

There are many stories about the origins of 420, and it all began with some high school students in 1971. Five students who referred to themselves as the “Waldos” would meet at a statue at San Rafael High School at 4:20 pm to consume cannabis and go on a treasure hunt.

The Waldos had a map that led them to some federal land where a coast guard had planted some cannabis. This coast guard got spooked and feared getting caught. Repercussions were much harsher in the 1970s, so he drew a rough map of where he had planted the cannabis.

The coast guard told the Waldos that if they could find the treasure he’d planted, it was all theirs for the taking. They never did find the crop, though they seemed to have some great adventures together nonetheless. They called their adventures “safaris.”

After spending some time with the Grateful Dead and using the term 420, it caught on, and the rest is history.

How is the Term “420” Used?

420 is used as a code to tell others that one consumes cannabis. People use the term 420 in conversation, in film and television, on dating app profiles, in rental ads, and as an invitation to join with other members participating in cannabis culture.

Thanks to the Waldos, 420 is a term that has become universally accepted lingo.

From a treasure hunt to activism, freedom, and celebration, 420 has always been about gathering and connection.

Forty years later, 420 events held on and around April 20th are now opportunities to gather and celebrate this year online.

Happy 420 to you all!

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