– How April 20 Became Global Weed Day –
It’s ALWAYS 420 somewhere.
– For years, people have speculated about the true meaning of 420. Some popular myths about the origins of 420 include that the number is the police code for marijuana or that it’s the number of chemical compounds found in weed, however, 420 thankfully has much more innocent and good-natured origins than anything having to do with all of that.
Five San Rafael High School friends in San Rafael, Calif. collectively called the Waldos probably started the 420 tradition, according to the Huffington Post’s seminal story on the history of 420. The code first came about in the fall of 1971 because the Waldos planned to meet at a statue of Louis Pasteur at the school at 4:20 before they went on an expedition to score some free weed from a plot of marijuana plants abandoned by a Coast Guard service member.
“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,” Waldo Steve, which is not his real name, told the Huffington Post.
The Waldos kept meeting up at 4:20 to find the plot, but even after they were unsuccessful, the group used 420 as code for their pot-related activities, such as asking others if they had any marijuana or if they wanted to smoke some. This helped the Waldos keep their toking on the down low without their teachers or parents knowing what they were talking about. Grown-ups, am I right?
So how did the term 420 spread beyond San Rafael? You can, unsurprisingly, thank the Grateful Dead for that. When the 1960s ended, the Dead left the Haight in San Francisco for the Marin County hills near San Rafael High School, according to the Huffington Post. The Waldos got to know the Dead thanks to Mark Waldo’s father handling the band’s real estate and Waldo Dave’s older brother Patrick befriending the Dead’s bassist Phil Lesh. The Waldos think it’s likely that they used the code around the Dead, who then may have spread it across the country while on tour.
You can read the entire magazine below.