No matter if you smoke marijuana or not, you must have heard people referring to the 20th of April as ‘National Weed Day.’ Every year, millions of people all over the world celebrate the cannabis plant. However, many of them know nothing about how it began or why this number is even associated with marijuana.
If you want to find out the answers to those things, all you have to do is keep reading.
People have been debating over how 4/20 began for decades, which lead to many theories being invented. Some people believe that this specific date was chosen because there were 420 active chemicals found in the cannabis plant. However, we know that’s not true as the plant contains more than 500 active chemicals, and only about seventy of them are cannabinoids unique to the plant. Other people believe that 420 is the police code for ‘smoking marijuana in progress,’ however, there is no evidence that would support this claim.
According to the experts from Las Vegas ReLeaf Dispensary, “Some individuals even thought that it began from Bob Dylan’s song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” with 420 being the product of 12 times 35, containing lyrics in the chorus that sang, “Everybody must get stoned.”
None of these theories have turned out to be true. So if that’s not where the 420 comes from, then what happened?
How Did 420 Really Begin
The most credible story states that everything started in the early 1970s, in Marin County, California, where five marijuana enthusiasts attended San Rafael High School. The group consisted of Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Larry Schwartz, Mark Gravich, and Jeffrey Noel, who were referring to themselves as ‘The Waldo’s.’
During the fall of 1971, they were given a map from a Coast Guard member. He had planted cannabis in the forest nearby, and couldn’t attend to it anymore. After getting the map, The Waldo’s would meet at least once a week at the same time – 4:20 p.m. under the statue of their school’s famous chemist Louis Pasteur to look for the herb. And why that specific time? Because usually by that time, all the extracurricular activities had ended. They would take a car, smoke some pot, and go to the first with the map to find the free herb. Unfortunately, despite looking for the free herb, they never found it.
However, they didn’t use 420 to refer to the time of their meeting – they were using it as a code for the thing connected with pot. The term later got popularized, as it allowed the students to talk about smoking marijuana without their teachers or parents finding out.
How Did 420 Become Popular
How did it happen that a simple code invented by a group of teenagers became an international sensation? Credit for that should go to Grateful Dead – a band formed in 1965. The Waldo’s were connected with them in many ways – Gravitch’s father managed their real estate, while Reddix’s older brother was very good friends with the bassist of the band – Phil Lesh.
Since The Waldo’s were always around the band, the secret code stopped being so secret. As one of the original members of The Waldo’s said, every time someone passed a joint, they would say ‘Hey, 420.’, which made the phrase spread through this community. Journalists from ‘High Times,’ a magazine dedicated to the cannabis culture helped in propelling 420 to everlasting fame, as it became the staple of their writing.
When the code ‘420’ started to become popular, many people have tried to take credit for inventing the term. However, The Waldo’s were the only ones who had actual proof – letters and notes from the 70s that show their inside jokes, include the 420. They were credited as inventors in 1998.
In December 1990, a group of fans of Grateful Dead from Oakland handed out flyers that encouraged people to smoke ‘420’ on the 20th of April at 4:20 p.m. The flyer reached a reporter of ‘High Times,’ and the magazine printed it in 1991. 420 started to be recognized worldwide as a code for marijuana, and the people who wrote the flyers were credited as the creators of ‘the stoner holiday’ taking place on the 20th of April.
Only a small portion of people knows the story behind 420 – how it began or how it became popular. There are many theories regarding how it all started – some more believable than others. However, the most credible story is one of The Waldo’s, and at the moment, they are credited as the inventors of the code. When it comes to the favorite day of all pot smokers, the 20th of April, the credit goes to a group of fans from Oakland that created the flyer encouraging to smoke weed on that day.
If you reached this point, you can consider yourself as a true expert in the history of 420 and 4/20.