In the marijuana industry, everyone knows that the date 4/20 and the time 4:20 are strongly associated with smoking. But why?
Legends and Facts
There are many legends telling why the number 420 became associated with marijuana use. Some say that it was the police code for marijuana smoking in progress, and, like a lot of counterculture groups, marijuana smokers adopted it for their own.
But the true story is a lot less interesting, though as with any origin story it is subject to some uncertainty and revision. In the early 1970s, students at San Rafael High School apparently originated the term, then passed it around with their friends, sharing it up and down the coast until it got picked up by Grateful Dead fans who spread it, along with a lot of what we now take as established marijuana culture, around the country.
There’s still some controversy, though. The current holders of the naming rights, a group that says they were called the Waldos because they hung out by the wall, claim it was the time they decided to meet up for their smoking sessions, along with some ersatz treasure hunt for a missing pot crop. However, another group, called the Bebes, claims that they not only originated the term 420 as the time to load the bong, but also dubbed the Waldos because the guys were goofy.
But if some uncertainty remains, it’s not the origin of the term that matters so much as what it’s become.
No matter where it came from, 420 today has profound significance for the marijuana community. It has become an international celebration of pot culture, including a focal point for many of the rallies that have led to legalization around the country.
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