History of 4/20

Mary Jon

Right or wrong, marijuana is viewed as counter-culture. The counter-culture movement forced weed smokers to come up with the discreet term for marijuana, 420. 420 stands for many things now – the digit-
word is notably used in association to marijuana. The code four-twenty is defined as the cannabis consumption holiday or a way to identify yourself [or others] as marijuana users. The history of 420 culture has humble beginnings and is a grassroots term that grew into the way to identify the friends of Mary Jane.

The most notable origin story is the San Rafael High School stoners. For readers that are new to the story, it goes like this. In 1971, there was a group of San Rafaeal kids that were on a search for an abandoned crop of marijuana northwest of San Francisco, California; instigated by a treasure map given to them by the alleged grower. The group of California teens called themselves the “Waldos.” The term was because they preferred to hand out by a wall outside of SRHS. The hippies began meeting at a statue outside of the school every day at 4:20 p.m. to get high and look for it. Thus, 420. Granted, the boys never found the crop, but they did begin a phenomenon.

The California boys began using the term 420 with everyone they knew – friends, family and people at concerts. In fact, 1970s concert circuit lit the term up, no pun intended. The band The Grateful Dead were known to put the code on their concert posters, along with others looking to meet up on the down low. The Deadheads, Grateful Dead followers, made this a cult-like term and the rest is history.

Since then, there have been many forms promoting and innovating the counter-culture industry and term 420. High Times has been accredited to coining and marketing 420 than anyone else out there. The other primary thing that keeps 420 alive is the annual festivals. Since passing medical, then recreational soon thereafter, Colorado is one of the most sough after cities on April 20th – 420. There are said to be over 2500 marijuana dispensaries and business in the state which will make locals and tourists delighted; marijuana contributes to half of Colorado’s tourism.

There are thousands of events nationwide celebrating the stoner Sabbath, check them out. So, in essence, the history of 420 was a joint effort. Happy 4/20, everyone! Have a safe and wonderful hippie holiday.