What the Guys Who Coined '420' Think About Their Place in Marijuana History

By now, you don't have to be a smoker to know that April 20 is considered by many to be a sort of national holiday for cannabis culture. Some have suggested that the date comes from "420" being a code among police officers for "marijuana-smoking in progress," while others say that there's a connection to 4/20 being Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler's birthday. But the most credible story about the origins of the illicit observance involves neither of those ideas.

Instead, it involves five high school students who, back in 1971, would get together at 4:20 p.m. to smoke marijuana by a statue of chemist Louis Pasteur at San Rafael High School in Marin County, Calif. Known as the "Waldos" — Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich — they would say "420" to each other at some point during the...

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