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Do You Know the Origins of 4/20?

April 19, 2017


It's almost here everyone! Grab your blunts, bongs, and boom box, the best high holiday of the year is upon us.


April 20th is this Thursday and everyone in the marijuana world is gearing up for a day of celebration, relaxation, and munchie eating. Whether you consume cannabis or not, odds are you've heard the 4/20 mantra from somewhere but the real question is, where did it come from?


There are countless myths and stories surrounding the origins of the celebrated tradition. It seems every person you ask has a different origin story of how 4/20 came to be. After asking around myself for the answer, here are some of the crazy responses I got.


Myth #1 - 420 is the police radio code for marijuana. Just imagine your local police officer chowing down on his latest doughnut to have his radio buzz in, "We got a 420 over in Williamsburg. All units available, please report to the scene of the crime. Use force if necessary."


Myth #2 - April 20th is Adolph Hitler's birthday. Now that we know he was addicted to cocaine and opioids during the war, we surely named our day to celebrate marijuana after the most evil man in the world. Totally makes sense to me...


Myth #3 - Bob Dylan coined the term through a hidden message in his 1966 song "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35". If you multiply the 12 and 35, guess what you get.


Myth #4 - 420 was named after California Senate Bill 420, which is also known as the Medical Marijuana Program Act. This bill established guidelines on how many plants people could grow and how much they could carry. 


Though these stories are fun and add to the mythological storytelling surrounding the holiday, none of them are true. If you really want to know the true story, you gotta turn to the Grateful Dead.


The true origins of 4/20 date back to the early 70s in a small town in California called San Rafael. A group of five high schoolers called the Waldos (because they hung out by a wall, duh) coined the term in1971. Since they couldn't smoke at school, they Waldos would meet after school at 4:20 to get high and hang out. 


420 became the code in San Rafael for marijuana. Once that high school bell rang, the Waldos and anyone else that wanted to join would meet up after school to smoke weed. San Rafael, by no coincidence, also happened to be a Grateful Dead stronghold. After the word spread throughout the town, the Dead Heads picked up the term and took it with them when they traveled the country, following the legendary psychedelic jam band. Within a decade, 420 became known to stoners across the country.


And now here we are, over four decades later, celebrating the joy and wonder of marijuana. To be honest, it doesn't really matter where it 420 came from. All that matters is that the day is almost here and I need to stock up before it's too late.




Now read about why music sounds so good when you're high.

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