The true, original 420 meaning is mostly lost to the sands of time now. While its origins remain mysterious, there are dozens of competing claims about the history of the number 420 and how it became associated with marijuana. From 4:20 pm to the annual holiday on April 20, the number has taken on a symbolic life of its own. But no matter what you believe about the “true” origin of 420, it’s certainly clear that the number has become an important part of modern marijuana culture. Explore some of the possible explanations for the origins of the term and get our tips on how to celebrate 420 in all the best ways.
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Myths Behind the 420 Meaning
There are dozens of stories claiming to offer the true meaning of the 420 symbolism that’s so common today. Most of them are myths, including any claims relating to:
- The number of chemicals found in marijuana, which is not exactly 420
- Criminal codes used by police departments in California or other parts of the country, none of which use the code 420 to refer to drug-related calls
- Hitler’s birthday, which is April 20 but not directly related to cannabis consumption in any way
- A Bob Dylan song called “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”, which requires you to do the math to reach 420
- Bob Marley’s birthday or death day, neither of which occurred on April 20
- The original or best day for planting marijuana crops, something that varies depending on the area and planting method
None of these facts or myths have anything to do with the actual origins of 420. While even the “official” story has been debated, all of these proposals have been thoroughly debunked.
The True 420 Origin Story
Research by journalists at High Times as early as 1991 uncovered what’s now considered the most reasonable explanation for the story. It all began in 1971 with a group of high school students. Mark Gravich, Dave Reddix, Steve Capper, Jeffrey Noel, and Larry Schwartz were all students at San Rafael High School who enjoyed smoking pot together. They also called themselves the Waldos due to their habit of hanging out together, leaning against a wall outside of school. When they got a hold of a treasure map supposedly drawn by a grower who was too afraid to retrieve his crop, they hatched a plan to meet and try and harvest it. They picked 4:20 pm as an ideal time to meet up after school, using the code “4:20 Louie” to remind each other to meet at the Louis Pasteur statue on campus. While their search for that field didn’t pan out, they continued using the term to reference smoking marijuana. It jumped from this small group of friends to the national level because Dave Reddix became a roadie for Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead. Thanks to the Grateful Dead’s constant touring and huge exposure to the hippie community, the term became widespread by the late 1980s.
How to Celebrate 420
Almost any way of ingesting THC is a great way to celebrate 420, but there are some activities you can participate in beyond just lighting up. Start off by checking out what kind of deals are being offered by the local dispensaries in your area. Most retailers celebrate April 20 like it’s a major holiday, setting some of the biggest discounts of the year or throwing in free products with minimum purchase amounts. Once you’ve picked out some new products to try, consider attending one of the many 420 events that go on throughout the world. In countries and states where recreational marijuana is still illegal, it’s commonly used as a day of protests. In other areas, more celebratory gatherings may be planned. Even if you’re more of a homebody, you could always try out a new recipe for cannabutter and make a batch of edibles to share with your friends.
Don’t let 420 pass you by this year without a celebration of your own. Check into local gatherings, see what’s for sale at the dispensaries, and get together with friends to play weed-themed games and celebrate your love of all things THC-related.