The History of 4/20

by Brittney Graham

Whether you are new to the cannabis community or have been in the scene for a long time, chances are that you have heard of the magically green 4/20 holiday. It is also very famous for referencing the time of day associated with medicating. Many have questioned just where this ganja holiday came from and have even speculated its beginnings. Since some still stigmatize cannabis, it has been linked with Hitler’s Birthday which is April 20,1889. While some believe that it is the active number of chemicals in the Marijuana plant.

The reality of the significance behind this green number can actually be traced back to organic roots of a very open-minded community and the spirit of adventure. A group of 5 California teens in the fall of 1971, self-nicknamed, “Waldos”, were made aware of Cannabis plants that a Coast Guard member planted and could no longer tend too. In search of this crop, the group would meet outside their high school every week armed with the “treasure map” to the lucky spot. The time of the meeting? You guessed it, 4:20pm.

One of the original members of the Waldos, Steve Capper, told the Huffington Post, “We would remind each other in the hallways we were supposed to meet up at 4:20. It originally started out 4:20-Louis, and we eventually dropped the Louis.” The bud was sadly never found, but that doesn’t mean that this group didn’t discover something else. A phrase that would soon be known internationally throughout the cannabis community and the world.

So how does that happen exactly? The internet was not around at that time which means we can forget social media. Enter the band, the Grateful Dead, whom the Waldos had open access too because one of the members fathers managed the bands real estate. Another member also had a close friendship with the drummer from the band so the Waldos were always at the shows. During the concerts, the group would run around back stage and when a joint was passed phrases would be thrown around like,” hey 4:20!”

The phrase became global when Steven Bloom, A High Times reporter, saw it for the first-time during Christmas Week at a Grateful Dead concert in Oakland, California in 1991. The bands fans, also known as “deadheads,”, would congregate around the band area and pass around flyers. Bloom received one 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.”

Of course, we all know that the rest was history once High Times ran with the story from their reporter. Is it not amazing to think about a phrase that has become more famous than its creators globally yet that is the main explanation of the holiday itself? Not only is the day very popular within the cannabis community, but also the time of day at which medication is taken. Regardless of the answer, I hope your 4/20 is as green as you want it to be!

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