The History of 420

The History of 420

It’s no secret that April 20th is our favorite holiday. It’s a whole day dedicated to cannabis culture. You get to celebrate the world’s favorite herb alongside your fellow stoners — what’s not to love? We know that this specific date was selected because of its reference to 420, the numerical slang for marijuana. But where did that lingo even come from? Let’s explore some popular legends behind this mysterious jargon as well as the probably true (but no less interesting) story.

Myths About 420

Weed is known to inspire creativity, so it’s really no surprise that stoners let their imagination run wild with this. Perhaps you’ve heard that 420 is the police code for “marijuana smoking in progress.” Well, it may pain you to know this is bogus. Or maybe you were told that there are 420 chemicals in marijuana or that 4:20 is the teatime in Holland. Sorry, also false. Our favorite myth is that the slang came from Bob Dylan’s song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” since 12 x 35 = 420 (Cool huh?). Although this tale is intriguing, it also happens to be tall.

The Real Origin of 420

And by real, we mean most credible. The etymology of words can be a little elusive but this story appears to be the real deal. It all began in 1971 with a group of five students at San Rafael High School: Steve Capper, Dace, Reddix, Jeffery Noel, Larry Schwartz, and March Gravich. These California teens used to meet at a wall outside of their school, earning themselves the nickname “the Waldos.”

During the fall, the Waldos heard a rumor about a Coast Guardsman who had abandoned a cannabis crop and left behind a treasure map to find it. They allegedly got their hands on this map and started meeting weekly by a statue of chemist Louis Pasteur. The meeting always took place at 4:20pm, the time when their athletic activities were over. Steve Capper told the Huffington Post, “We would remind each other in the hallways we were supposed to meet at 4:20. It originally started out as 4:20-Louis, and we eventually dropped the Louis.” They would then drive around smoking weed, searching Point Reyes Forest for the legendary cannabis.

Unfortunately, they never found the free weed. But they did make their mark on history, coining one of the most iconic terms of all time. This codeword eventually spread out across the globe and through future generations. But how did a common gang of teen stoners make this kind of lasting impact on the world? Our best guess? The Grateful Dead. The Waldos had more access than most to since Gravitch’s dad managed the band’s Estate and Reddix’s older brother was good friends with Phil Lesh (The Dead’s bassist.). The teens regularly crossed paths with the band members and “Deadheads” and likely partook in the same circles.

But the defining moment for this story happened on Dec 28, 1990, in Oakland, CA. A group of Deadheads passed around flyers reading “We are going to meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing.” The High Times magazine, an authority on cannabis culture, picked up the story and launched a worldwide adoption of the code 420. This was the catalyst for the international phenomenon we know today as “Weed Day.”

Celebrate 420 with Cannabis from The Kind Center

Thanks to our wide selection of products, you don’t have to reserve just one day to splurge on your favorite bud. Every day is Weed Day at The Kind Center. We only sell products that we use ourselves so our helpful budtenders can definitely help you select the best cannabis options for your specific needs and preferences. Browse online or come say hello at our Hollywood store.

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