By: Margaret St. Pierre
Today is the day we long for all year. Everybody grab your lighters and your favorite piece of glass, for the greatest day of the year has finally come again. April 20th is something like Christmas for stoners everywhere, making big plans to get real silly celebrating mother natures finest herb.
It’s safe to say that everyone knows 420 relates to marijuana, but the facts behind this special number aren’t so clear. I safely assume that we all giggle a little when the clock strikes 4:20, or when we pay $4.20 for munchies at the local gas station. We all know what 420 means, but it seems to me that few know where the number combo came from. To help us get a better understanding of the origins on 420, I have done a little research. Here is what I found:
The folks at Huffington Post have posted this article every year on this day since 2009. I highly recommend checking out their investigation on the matter- these guys know what’s up with the details on 420 as well as the dudes who created the phenomena.
Apparently the story goes like this. Many think that way back in the glory days of the 70’s police used 4/20 as a code for “smoking marijuana in progress.” Naturally when the youth heard of the code, they started using it among themselves, referring to smoking weed as 420ing and opting to meet at 4:20pm to 420.
This isn’t the case.
The real story goes like this: Celebrity stoner Steve Bloom wandered through the sea of hippies partying in a parking lot before a Greatful Dead show in Oakland California circa 1990. Bloom was gifted a yellow flyer that read “We are going to meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County at the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt. Tamalpais.”
The origin of 420 had nothing to do with a police code, though the San Rafael part was dead-on. A group of five San Rafael High School friends known as the Waldos — by virtue of their chosen hangout spot, a wall outside the school — coined the term in 1971. – Huffington Post
Back in the fall of 1971 the Waldos were blessed with some very valuable information. A member of the coast guard was unable to tend to his marijuana crop Point Reyes Peninsula Coast Guard station. The Waldos, who were all athletes, decided to create a map and meet after their sports practices at 4:20 to go on a treasure hunt.
Steve Capper, one of the original Waldos said that while they never actually did find the patch, they did find an extremely handy code word
“I could say to one of my friends, I’d go, ‘420,’ and it was telepathic. He would know if I was saying, ‘Hey, do you wanna go smoke some?’ Or, ‘Do you have any?’ Or, ‘Are you stoned right now?’ It was kind of telepathic just from the way you said it. Our teachers didn’t know what we were talking about. Our parents didn’t know what we were talking about.” – Steve Capper
The term exploded throughout the nation with the help of the Grateful Dead. The band relocated to Marin County Hills when the hippie culture of San Fransisco was squashed by “speed-freaks, thugs, and con artists.” Because Marin County Hills was only a few blocks from San Rafael High school and the Waldo’s had some serious connections with the band, they found themselves smoking weed with them on several occasions.
The rest is history- the term trended among the band and from there was recognizedby High Times. Editor at the time Steve Hagar started incorporating the number in several events put on by High Times, like the Cannabis Cup and the World Hemp Expo Extravaganza. The number became an international sensation and was recognized among smoker’s everywhere!
The best part about this story is that there is proof of it! Somewhere, in some bank, in some vault, in San Fransisco lies the Waldo’s original 420 handy work. The vault is home to a stitched 420 flag, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia from the Waldo’s glory days. I encourage you all to check out the photos here.
So there we have it- 420 was created by a group of high school kids who just wanted to get high and jam out with the Grateful Dead. 420 will forever remain legendary among the marijuana-loving community. Now that you’ve learned your “something new” of the day, I wish you all the happiest of holi-daze!