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The History of 420

The History of 420

Happy 420 everyone, the international day of smoking cannabis and celebrating our favorite plant. If you’ve ever stopped to wonder why 4:20pm became the time to smoke weed, then read on as we debunk some theories and explain the true origin.

Some have linked Bob Dylan to the infamous number
While listening to Dylan’s song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” you’ll hear the term “everybody must get stoned” repeated over and over again. Here’s the fun part: when you multiply 12 x 35 you’re left with the number 420. As crazy as this coincidence may seem, there’s no confirmation that Bob Dylan has any ties to 4:20.

Others believe that it’s connected to the plant itself
The cannabis plant may have over 400 chemical compounds, but it has never been confirmed that the exact number is 420.

What about the penal code?
You may have heard theories that the number is linked to the police or congress, with some claiming it’s the dispatch code for cannabis possession. This one is clearly false, as 420 is actually radio code for homicide.

The list goes on
We’ve heard it all, from the day that Bob Marley died (a quick google search can squash this one), tying to Adolf Hitler’s birthday or the clocks in Pulp Fiction. But what’s the real story behind 420? It all started back in 1971 with some high school kids in San Rafael, California. They referred to themselves as “The Waldos” and used the term “420 Louis,” to say that at 4:20pm they would meet by the Louis Pasteur statue to smoke.

As it turns out, one of these kids’ older brothers was friends with a member of the Grateful Dead, and they began smoking with the band at their rehearsal studio in San Rafael. The band began using the “420”, and it quickly spread amongst their fans.

The term really took off when High Times senior editor Steve Bloom noticed a flyer at a Grateful Dead concert that referenced “420” and wrote about it in the magazine. Since then, the term has grown in popularity and is now inextricably linked to consuming cannabis.

So in honor of the Waldos, make sure you’re stocked up on Goods and happy high holidays.