THE ORIGIN OF THE TERM 420 - April 20th is Weed Day!

HAPPY 420!

You may not know this but the term 420 is a reference to smoking marijuana - aka weed, grass, Mary Jane, reefer, pot, cannabis, toke, doobie, ganja, joints, hemp, sativa et al. 420 (pronounced like the time 4:20 and not four hundred twenty) has been kind of a widespread "secret code" for decades amongst stoners for getting high on grass.

There are a lot of myths and versions of where the term 420 actually originated, most of them are wrong. Nope, sorry, it is not the police code for a marijuana bust or for someone "under the influence", it is not the day April 20th, it's not the number of active chemicals in marijuana (that is around 300+/- depending on the genus of the actual plant), nor is it derived from National Pot Smoker's Day which was established as April 20th as a result of the term 420.

According to Steven Hager, editor of High Times, the term 420 actually came about from a bunch of kids at San Rafael High in California who called themselves the Waldos. In 1971 the Waldos, a group consisting of Steve, Dave and Patrick (last names not revealed), coined the phrase when they made plans to meet up every day at the statue of Louis Pasteur on the campus and get high at 4:20 pm after school. It then evolved into a "Waldos" code for getting stoned, soon spreading through the school and then practically worldwide over the decades.

To quote one of the Waldos, "We did discover we could talk about getting high in front of our parents without them knowing by using the phrase 420."

Today, nearly 40 years later, 420 has evolved into a hidden symbol and code for cannabis and the counterculture that celebrated it's use. It's kind of like a modern day's counter culture Da Vinci Code - maybe in the year 4545 - if man is still alive - a futuristic android archaeologist will dig up an old stoner's t-shirt or some smoking paraphernalia and wonder just what that "420" means? Hopefully, they'll also find an archive of this blog post. . . .


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  1. LOL! Loved this bit of insight. Very humorous, all the parallel stories attached to it.

  2. Julia - thanks, I kind of stumbled on "420" myself and then started to do a little research in my "old age", lol. I love this kind of trivia history.

  3. tango2paris8:47 AM

    Great trivia...I'm a lover of it myself, a fountain of useless trivia am I... loved the peace bus art on the page,
    psychedelia in all its glory =)

  4. Thanks - I did that ages ago - reminds me of the hippie vans of my day.


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