4/20, 420 or 4:20: Cannabis Culture's Great Day

Ahh . . . I remember first being exposed to 4:20 way back in 1999, my undergraduate days at Temple University. I find myself chuckling when I think about it. I was walking the quad when someone yelled out one of the dormitory windows holding a bong, "It's 4:20 mofos, smoke up!" 420 is a day observed in the United States, London, Australia, New Zealand, and the list goes on… So what is 4/20, actually some may be wondering? It's a date 4/20? It's a time of the day 4:20? One thing is for sure, It's scorched eternally into modern slang vocabulary, 420.

4:20 origins go something like this: 420 has become synonymous with Cannabis Culture, you know: Hemp, marijuana, dank, the Stickiest Of The Icky! However, we know it's not the code police officers use for weed, nor is it the chemical compound of marijuana. The story goes back to 1971. A group of Californian High School Students at San Rafael High School, known as the Waldos, came up with the term due to their hangout spot being against a wall located right outside the school. The group was made aware of an abandoned marijuana crop hidden in seclusion. So the Waldos came up with a plan to find the crop of plants.

Each day after school, they would search for the plants together, using code "420 Louis" to coordinate their venture. 4:20 for the time to meet after school and Louis for the spot where the statue of Louis Pasteur was located in front of the school. While searching for the abandoned crop, the group would smoke numerous joints together on their adventure and generally having a good time. The group eventually gave up their search, never to find the rumored abandoned crop. However, the Waldos decided to continue hanging out, drop the Louis, and just use code 420 that transformed the group to refer to anything weed-related.

Eventually, 420 spread out with the assistance of the band the Grateful Dead. Members of the Waldos had a connection with the California-based band and began to use the code around them and their circle of friends, and thus the term 420 spread. First, however, 420 was used numerous times in the magazine High Times in the 1990s. Many steadfast cannabis users say that was the catalyst to make 420 a global phenomenon.

April 20th has become an official cannabis holiday for people worldwide. People light up what they have and forget their problems for the day. With recreational use of cannabis becoming legal and decriminalized in New York, California, Colorado, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, just naming a few U.S states, one can only wonder how big the day of 4/20 will eventually become?