Why is 420 associated with Marijuana?
Where did the concept of 420 originate, and why is April 20 the day chosen for the national celebration?
Take a whiff, and you may notice something in the air on April 20, especially if you live in a state where marijuana is legal.
Each year on that date, recreational marijuana smokers, cannabis producers and consumers celebrate their own holiday: 420 Day.
The name '420' relates to the date itself, the fourth month on the 20th day. On this day, weed enthusiasts around the world celebrate their love for the plant. Some gather for festivals and meetups, while others take private tokes in their own homes.
But where did the concept of 420 originate, and why is April 20 the day chosen for the national celebration?
420 Day: How did the number 420 come to represent smoking pot?
There are many legends and theories about why the 420 became code for smoking marijuana. Let's take a look at the different stories and variations of where the code originated.
It's worth noting that most of the rumors, legends and myths agree: The code 420 began in California.
Was 420 a California police radio code for marijuana?
One of the most common myths circulated on social media is that the number 420 came from Los Angeles or San Francisco police using radio codes to catch recreational smokers.
Can't you just imagine the stern police voice over the radio? "All units, all units, please respond to a 420 already in progress. We are ready to move in. Again, all units, a 420 is in progress."
However, LAPD doesn't have a code 420. San Francisco Police have one, but it’s for a “juvenile disturbance.”
Was 420 a California penal code?
Another common myth is that 420 is a California criminal code police used to punish marijuana usage or distribution.
However, this is just a myth. In fact, California Penal Code 420 is not nearly this exciting. It says, "Anyone who willfully obstructs entry on a public land owned by the United States in the State of California is guilty of Obstruction of Entry on a Public Land."
Does 420 refer to the number of chemical compounds in cannabis?
This is another popular myth passed around by the cannabis-loving community, especially while sitting around smoking together. However, research shows "over 500 chemical compounds have been identified in the cannabis plant, many of which were discovered by UM (University of Mississippi) researchers."
Is April 20 the best date to plant weed in California?
Research shows that in California cannabis seeds are best planted between April and July, depending on the strain and genetics of the plant.
"Many growers choose to plant their cannabis seeds in early June," according to experts.
Plus, modern grow houses are indoors and can plant as early as winter.
Did a Bob Dylan song start 420?
There's little doubt that Bob Dylan's fans helped perpetuate the celebration of 420, even going so far as to stay in hotel room 420 when traveling to see shows.
They connect the legend of 420 to his song 'Rainy Day Woman #12 and 35,' which has a lyric saying "Everybody must get stoned."
Multiply 12 by 35 and you get 420.
Bob Dylan has never confirmed any link; however, fans debate the true meaning of the song even today.
Was Hitler born on April 20?
Yes, Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, and the Columbine shootings also took place on this date. In fact, many violent terrorist attacks and wars have been sparked on the dates April 19 and 20, such that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is extra vigilant of potential violent or terrorist activity around mid-April.
However, there is no connection between the pro-marijuana 420 celebrations and any of the tragedies that occurred on April 20, nor is there a connection with Hitler's birthday. The celebration of 420 seems to have begun in the 1970s, long before most of the domestic attacks which happened in more recent years.
Did the Grateful Dead spark 420 celebrations?
The Grateful Dead and Deadhead community no doubt played a huge role in the spreading the culture and code of 420. While the band themselves didn't create 420, they did empower the culture to grow and spread.
Their enclave of fans living in Marin County, Calif., actually touches the true origin of 420: A group of students in school there who started using the code.
The real history of 420: Did 420 begin with 'The Waldos'?
This seems to be the most likely origin of the 420 celebration – although nobody knows for sure.
Several California historians from the L.A. and San Francisco area have shared a story about a group of stoners who called themselves 'The Waldos,' who were high school students in San Rafael in Marin County in the 1970s. The surrounding community was an enclave of Grateful Dead fans, many of who loved to get high and listen to music.
According to The Waldos website, a student named Waldo Steve was given a treasure map to a patch of weed in 1971. Waldo Steve met his friends at 4:20 by a statue on campus, and together they set out to find the patch.
"In the ensuing school days the Waldos would use the term ‘420 Louie™’ to remind each other of their after school quest. They eventually dropped the 'Louie' part and just said ‘420’ to refer to cannabis. Originally '420' was nothing more than the Waldos' secret slang – their own private joke – however, it was picked up by others and spread from generation to generation, city to city, country to country, across decades, and throughout all media around the globe," according to The Waldos website.
Their website features the now-grown friends' photo, and they say they are the documented founders of 420, claiming to have multiple pieces of physical evidence of the very earliest usage of the term 420, including letters with postmarks from the 1970s that refer to 420.
Their story has also been verified by numerous historians, news organizations and even Snopes – and is typically seen as the true origin story of 420.
For them, 4:20 p.m. was an ideal time of day: They were out of school but their parents still weren’t home, giving them a window of unsupervised freedom. They met at that time every day near a statue of Louis Pasteur, the scientist who pioneered pasteurization.