Most people have heard the term 420 and recognize its association with weed, but few understand the origin. Unfortunately, the number of theories floating around does not make it any easier to figure out.
Some theories associate it with the California criminal code 420. Many believe that 420 was the code used to suggest consumption of cannabis was in progress. However, neither the state of California nor the police has a code 420 associated with Cannabis consumption or possession. So this theory has long been debunked!
Others have tried to find the meaning of 420 in Bob Dylan's lyrics. The thought process on this one is a bit of a stretch. Many believe the song "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35," in which Dylan refers to getting stoned as the origin because 12 multiplied by 35 equals 420.
Image from the Waldos official website https://420waldos.com/about-the-waldos/
In actual fact, the REAL origin story (so they say) is far more aligned with the cannabis culture and a true stoner storey for the generations. It dates back to California in 1971, when a group of 5 teenagers from San Rafael High School would meet at 4.20 p.m. to smoke weed after their extracurricular activities had ended. They soon developed code 420 to confirm their meetup without being busted by parents or teachers. Because the group met by a wall (and high school students are clearly profound thinkers when coming up with nicknames), they were referred to as "The Waldos."
One of the group's members became a roadie for the Grateful Dead, who adopted his 4:20 plans. Then, in the 1990s, the band's groupies (Deadheads) started handing out flyers inviting people to smoke at "420" on April 20 at 4:20 p.m. One of these flyers ended up in the hands of a High Times reporter, who published it in the magazine, and the rest is history.
From there, 4/20 became a day for activists and weed connoisseurs to come together and push for legalization. Since the legalization of cannabis in Canada, corporations have adopted the event. While it is still a great day for cannabis lovers to connect, it has lost some of its counterculture vibes due to legalization.
We look forward to watching the continued evolution of 420, which started from the most humble stoner beginnings and is now celebrated around the globe.