420: The Beginning

Everyone’s favorite holiday is quickly approaching. Buds will bloom, people will join together, and high spirits will be bountiful throughout the world. As we celebrate this April the 20th, let’s take a look back at the origins of how and why the term and time 420, 4:20, 4/20 got to be so popular.

It was the fall of 1971 and five high school friends in San Rafael California, who proudly called themselves the ‘Waldos’, set off to find treasure. They had heard of a member of the Point Reyes Peninsula Coast Guard that could not take care of his cannabis crop any longer. The promise of free buds enhanced their spirit of youthful adventure so they plotted to plot the mysterious plot.

The friends were all finished with classes and after school sports around 4pm so they agreed to meet up and start the hunt at 4:20pm. They would whisper reminders to each other in the hallways with the codeword “420”. Teachers and fellow students had no idea what they were talking about.


Once the moment finally rolled around, they would hop into one of one of the groups cars and go out searching the Point Reyes forest. Of course they were toking up as soon as they got into the car, all throughout the quest, and on the way home. They never did find that mysterious plot of free buds, but they did find something much bigger; the beginning of a era of cannabis enthusiasts using the term and time 420.

The term then took a walk through the Dead to jumpstart its’ popularity. One of the Waldos had strong connections to the Grateful Dead and when the group performed a concert just blocks from San Rafael High School, some of the Waldos came to watch and learn. One of the Waldos says he toked up with bassist Phil Lesh many times and could have mentioned the term then. The Grateful Dead took the term with them as they traveled and consumed throughout the land. Flyers were eventually made and passed out in between smoke circles to meet up at 4:20 on 4/20 to do some 420ing.

As the term spread throughout the Dead’s followers, it caught the attention of one of the High Times editors, Steve Hager. He incorporated the term into everything the High Times wrote and from there the term 420 really clung on to the world’s cannabis enthusiasts.

This April 20th will be packed as large and precisely as your bowls and blunts with events, speeches,  seshes, circles, toke outs, smoke outs, and good people sharing good times together. So as you 420 at 4:20 on 4/20 remember the Waldos and their original quest to find the abandoned buds. But also remember that you can celebrate the occasion daily as 4:20 happens twice a day, everyday.

Dive deeper into the saga of 420 with these resources:




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