The Beginnings of 420
Whether you follow cannabis culture or not, we doubt you need an Urban Dictionary to understand the term “420”. But in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past century, “420” is the slang term to alert your friends and fellow cannabis partakers that it’s time to engage in one of our favorite activities.
The day April 20th has become synonymous with the term “420” and is widely recognized as a day to celebrate our favorite herb.
You can ask your uncle who followed the Grateful Dead in the 60’s, the dispensary that you just visited, or your life-long, cannabis connoisseur friend, and you’re bound to get a different story from each one of them about the origins of “420”. There are several versions that have been floating around the cannabis community for years…
Common Tales of 420 Origins
Some people claim the number “420” is celebrated in irony because “420” was a police radio code for smoking marijuana. Now a simple Google search may bust the bubble on that one. As it turns out, there is no universal code system used for police in the United States. That being said, it is technically possible that somewhere in America, someone’s police force, might just have “420” as their marijuana radio code.
Another interesting theory that makes the rounds on a regular basis comes from a more science-based approach. Some say that the term is used because there are 420 distinct chemical compounds in actual cannabis plant itself. Yet again, some basic research leads us to understand that this is an inaccurate and bogus claim. And at the end of the day, the only chemical that should really pique our interest is the THC.
Now, there have been other dubious claims like “420” is a reference to Hitler’s birthday, or that the numbers in the title of Bob Dylan’s song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” equal “420” when you multiple them. However, no legitimacy to these claims have ever been found.
So, What IS The Most Likely Meaning of 420?
The widely and generally accepted story of the origins of the term “420” comes from San Rafael, California back in the 1970’s. A group of teenagers calling themselves the Waldos, used to hang out outside their school. In the Fall of 1971, they decided to search for an abandoned cannabis crop they had heard about.
Every day, their meeting spot was the Louis Pasteur statue on the grounds of San Rafael High School at 4:20 PM. They first referred to their plan as “4:20 Louis”, which was eventually shortened to simply “420”.
It is said that the Waldos never found that abandoned crop, but their repeated attempts at discovering it ensured a place for them in the history of marijuana culture.