420: What does it mean and why is it celebrated?

420: What does it mean and why is it celebrated?

Marijuana for recreational use has been legalized in 18 states and the District of Columbia over the last decade. New Jersey is the most recent of these states to allow medical marijuana shops to sell their goods to all adults on April 21, 2022, the day after 4/20-a day that both marijuana users and non-smokers celebrate as a national holiday for cannabis culture.

Whether you know a lot or a little about marijuana, you’ve probably heard that the numerals 420 have a special meaning in pot culture. But what exactly does it mean? And why are April 20th and 4:20 p.m. so sacred to cannabis aficionados?

According to Time Magazine, the term “420” was coined in 1971 by a group of five students at San Rafael High School in Marin County, California, who met at 4:20 p.m. to smoke marijuana.

The Waldos, the Grateful Dead, and a lot of weed

The most accepted version of the origin story of 4:20 links the digits to Marin County, California. In 1971, five students from San Rafael High School gathered around 4:20 p.m. beside the campus’s monument of scientist Louis Pasteur to smoke weed.

They selected that hour because it was when most extracurricular activities finished. Because they met at a wall, Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich were known as the “Waldos.” They’d text each other “420” as a code for marijuana.

According to Steven Hager, a former editor of High Times, the importance of 420 dates back to the early 1970s, when a group of Northern California teens began smoking marijuana around 4:20 p.m. as a ritual.

The antics went past 4:20 p.m., as well. Under the influence, the group challenged each other to discover ever-more-interesting things to do, referring to their outings as “safaris.”

Reddix’s brother later assisted him in finding work as a roadie for Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, and the band is credited with popularizing the term “420.” A group of Oakland Deadheads distributed flyers on December 28, 1990, inviting people to smoke “420” on April 20 at 4:20 p.m.

One of them was Steve Bloom, a former reporter for High Times magazine and a cannabis culture expert. In 1991, the magazine published the flyer and continued to use the number as a reference.

It quickly gained a reputation as a code word for marijuana all over the world. The “Waldos” were the “inventors” of 420, according to the outlet from 1998.

Bloom, who is now the publisher of, attributes the date’s reputation as an annual gathering of pot smokers to the people who wrote the flyer. “They wanted people all over the world to get together on one day each year and collectively smoke pot at the same time,” he wrote in 2015. “They birthed the idea of a stoner holiday, which April 20 has become.”

Source: Culled From Marca.

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