The Origin of 420

The Origin of 420

Marijuana has been under scrutiny for years regarding its legalization and its use in the medical field. While still illegal for the most part, it has not stopped smokers from lighting up and celebrating on 4/20. Although the day has become a national holiday in the pot smoking community, it did not originate this way.


There are many different stories surrounding the birth of the 4/20 holiday, one of which is that '420' is police radio code for marijuana. This is not true since research showed that 420 is not code for the drug (or anything else for that matter).

Another popular story is that 4/20 is Hitler's birthday. While this is true, it's simply coincidence.

If you've ever heard that the day comes from there being 420 chemicals in weed, you can place that in the myth pile, too. Marijuana has around 400 chemicals, a number that varies depending on the plant. It is simply not consistent enough to have a holiday made out of it.

Some may claim that 4:20 p.m. is the time in Holland when pot smokers have tea time. In fact there is really no designated "tea time" in the country.

The true origin

To discover the origin of 4/20 we must travel back to San Rafael, California, 1971. Here at San Rafael High School, a group of students who coined themselves the Waldos would meet at 4:20 p.m. to smoke pot at the Louis Pasteur statue on their campus. The term "420" grew into one that the group used as code for smoking weed so that they could talk about it in front of their parents and others without them knowing.

From then on, the term has grown to become a national symbol of the pot smoking culture. How it spread is unsure, but what went from a time for the Waldos to meet and smoke marijuana has since become recognized as a holiday for the smoking community, celebrated across the nation regardless of how illegal it may be.

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