The History of 420

Liz Filmer
21 Apr 2024

April 20th, or 4/20, marks the worldwide celebration of weed. When the clock strikes 4:20 and before, cannabis enthusiasts smoke with friends in many cases. 

Advocates and retailers also use the day to promote calls for changes in the law and sell more weed-related products. But what are the origins of 420? where did it come from? Many myths and theories surround this date, and explanations range from the intricate to the absurd. 

We are here to do some 420 myth-busting and set the record straight once and for all, so if you don't know, you are about to find out. Some of the Widely believed but incorrect arguments flying around about the birth of "420" or "weedmas" include: 

  • 420 comes from a Bob Dylan song.
  • There are 420 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. 
  • 420 is a police code for "cannabis smoking in progress."
  • April 20th is the date that Bob Marley's died.
  • The Grateful Dead always stayed in the hotel room numbered 420. 
  • Amsterdam teatime is at 4:20 p.m.

What is the Truth Behind 420?

However, the true story is much more and goes back to 1971. Five San Rafael, Californian, high school friends called themselves "the Waldos". They had heard rumour of a forgotten, abandoned bunch of weed plants in California's Point Reyes forest. Excited by the thought of discovering it, the Waldos planned to track the plants down. 

Each Waldo was a student-athlete, so their weed treasure-hunting could not commence until after sports practice. The time it ended was 4:20. On the first day of their search, legend has it that the five stoner adventurers whispered "4:20" to each other in the hallways as a reminder.

The Waldos assembled at the statue of Louis Pasteur. From where they blazed through the forest in a '66 Chevy Impala. The search may have been unsuccessful even though the Waldos went scouring for weeks. However, their little excursion has grown into a global pot fuelled phenomenon.

Thank you, Waldos!!

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Liz Filmer