Bob Marley is crooning on the radio about peace and love, your coworkers are laughing a little too hard at a joke you just told, and everything around you seems generally… chill. When you check the calendar and realize it’s April 20th, your newfound confidence in your own sense of humor falls flat. You realize it’s 4/20, also known as, Weed Day.
4/20 has been celebrated since the 70’s, and there has been much speculation to how this taboo holiday came to be. The most credible origin story starts in Northern California in 1971 at San Rafael high school. Our story begins with five friends who called themselves the Waldos, for no other reason than being known to hang out by a wall. Bound by their love for cannabis, the Waldos came into possession of a hand-drawn map locating a cannabis growing site at Point Reyes, north-west of San Francisco. Excited by the possibility of the treasure they sought after, they met after school – at 4:20 (an arbitrary time that they didn’t yet realize would shape cannabis culture forever) – and went off on their treasure hunt. Unfortunately, the hopeful, wide-eyed (or shall I say, bloodshot-eyed) Waldos never did find their cannabis crop. However, they continued to meet after school at 4:20, and the group was then accustomed to using the term “420”.
When “420” started to catch on with friends and acquaintances of the Waldos, it caught like wildfire, and this was not a slow burn. Only a few steps removed, those friends and acquaintances played telephone with the phrase until it was heard by members of the Grateful Dead, a well-renowned rock band whose popularity was growing at the time. Fans of the Grateful Dead – Deadheads – were as devoted then as they are now, and were happy to embrace the phrase that they heard from their beloved band. Fast forward to 1990 when Steve Bloom, editor at High Times, read about 420 on a Grateful Dead concert flyer. The enlightened staff member brought his knowledge back to the rest of his coworkers who collectively worked on the leading publication on cannabis. They were happy to jump on board with “420”.
The rest is history.
Today, 420 the phrase, 4:20 the time, and especially, April 20th (4/20) the holiday are all celebrated as a symbol that unites cannabis lovers of all walks of life. Cannabis connoisseurs all over the country celebrate by getting together with all of their 420-friendly friends to enjoy a bowl, a vape, or even a tray of “special brownies”.