What’s the History of 4/20?

This week, cannabis enthusiasts are gearing up for the biggest holiday in the marijuana world: April 20th. 4/20 may have simple origins, but it’s turned into so much more throughout the years.

Surely every stoner knows about the universal number that reminds them of lighting up the wonderful plant: 420. This week, we celebrate April 20th, the ultimate stoner holiday, but every day 4:20 has a special meaning to die-hard marijuana enthusiasts. At the very least, it gets noticed. So why is 420 so special? Here’s some history:

According to VICE, “The tradition began with a group of teens known as the Waldos who grew up in Marin County, California. (Delightfully, they were called “the Waldos” because they liked to hang out beside a wall near San Rafael High School.) They have produced and displayed a 420 flag that dates back to the 1970s and have also submitted as evidence postmarked letters from the same era that use the number as a code for marijuana.”

The group would meet at 4:20pm to enjoy some fresh ground bud and get a load off from their busy days. Although the original group members tried to hide their 4/20 friendly status to the world, they are now embracing their role in history.

VICE also clarified these popular misconceptions about the 4/20 holiday:

  • 420 is not police code for marijuana violations.
  • 420 is not the number of active chemical compounds in marijuana. (It’s 315.)
  • 420 is Adolf Hitler’s birthday, but that’s not where the tradition comes from.
  • 420 is what you get if you multiply 12 by 35, the numbers from the title of the Bob Dylan song “Rainy Day Woman no. 12 and no. 35.” That song does contain the refrain, “Everybody must get stoned.” But that is not why 420 became the pothead’s favorite number.

Regardless of how 4/20 came about, it’s now an established stoner holiday. With legalization in the U.S. hitting a critical mass, we can expect the day to become even more widespread and socially acceptable in years to come. Happy 4/20!

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