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The Legend of 4/20

By Lauren Ford
Posted On Apr 20, 2016
The Legend of 4/20


April 20th also known as “Weed Day” is a day that we associate with the mind-altering green plant, marijuana. Most of us don’t know the meaning behind 4/20, and just use it as an excuse to put our HUF socks on, channel our inner Bob Marley, and smoke the day away.

As with everything, there are many rumors floating around out there as to the meaning behind 4/20. Is it the police code for marijuana use? Is it the number of active chemicals in marijuana?  Is it tea time in Amsterdam? Is it Jimi Hendrix’s birthday? Well, the real reason for the season originated with five high school students who were on the hunt for a green treasure.

In 1971, a group of San Rafael High School students went on a hunt for a plot of marijuana plants that was supposedly growing near the Point Reyes Peninsula Coast Guard Station. They would meet at 4:20 pm outside of school to drive to the area and search for the patch. They never found it, but the numbers 420 became a useful code for them to communicate with each other about the illegal plant.

The group of friends, nicknamed the Waldos, were good friends and smoking buddies with the band The Grateful Dead. From there it took off. The 420 code word for cannabis began to spread like wildfire through the band’s fans and its attached subculture. The Grateful Dead would pass out flyers at their shows with the “legend of 420” printed on them. A California journalist, Steve Bloom, got his hands on one of the flyers and published it in the May 1991 issue of High Times. The publication then started creating events around the date 4/20, such as- the World Hemp Expo Extravaganza and The Cannabis Cup.

So there you have it. Five high school potheads on a failed mission to find a weed plant single-handedly created a not-so-national holiday dedicated to marijuana.

Happy 4/20, friends!