The History of 4/20: How a Time Became a Symbol for Cannabis Culture

The History of 4/20: How a Time Became a Symbol for Cannabis Culture

April 20th, commonly known as “4/20,” has become a significant date in cannabis culture. On this day, enthusiasts gather to celebrate and advocate for the legalization and use of marijuana. But how did this seemingly arbitrary date gain such prominence? Let’s delve into the fascinating history of 4/20.

The Origins

The origins of 4/20 date back to the early 1970s in Marin County, California. A group of five high school students from San Rafael High School—Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich—played a pivotal role in shaping this iconic date. They called themselves the “Waldos” because they often met at a wall near their school.

At 4:20 p.m., after extracurricular activities had usually ended, the Waldos would gather by the campus statue of chemist Louis Pasteur. Their mission? To search for an abandoned cannabis crop rumored to be hidden in the nearby Point Reyes National Forest. The treasure map that led them on this quest was allegedly left behind by a U.S. Coast Guard member who could no longer tend to the plants.

The Waldos used “420” as their secret code for marijuana. As they met and explored, they challenged each other to find ever-more-interesting things to do under the influence, calling their adventures “safaris.” Their escapades extended well beyond 4:20 p.m., and their camaraderie solidified the significance of this number.

The Grateful Dead Connection

Enter the Grateful Dead, the legendary rock band known for its psychedelic music and counterculture influence. Dave Reddix’s brother worked as a roadie for Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh. The band members embraced the term “420,” and it became part of their vernacular. On December 28, 1990, Deadheads in Oakland distributed flyers inviting people to smoke “420” on April 20 at 4:20 p.m. The flyer eventually reached Steve Bloom, a former reporter for High Times magazine—an authority on cannabis culture.

High Times and Global Recognition

High Times published the flyer in 1991, and the term “420” gained traction worldwide. The Waldos were finally acknowledged as the “inventors” of 420. But their vision extended beyond secret codes and treasure hunts. They wanted people worldwide to come together on one day each year and collectively smoke cannabis at the same time. Thus, April 20 became a stoner holiday—a day when cannabis enthusiasts celebrate their shared passion.

420 Friendly: Embracing Cannabis Culture

In recent years, the term "420 friendly" has emerged as a signifier of acceptance for cannabis use. Whether applied to hotels, rental properties, or social gatherings, being 420 friendly indicates a welcoming attitude towards marijuana consumption.

For travelers seeking accommodations where they can freely indulge in cannabis, 420-friendly hotels offer a haven. These establishments, primarily located in states with legalized marijuana, cater to cannabis enthusiasts looking for a safe and inclusive environment.

The Legacy of 420

As we reflect on the history of 420, it becomes clear that its significance transcends mere numbers. What began as a code word among high school friends has blossomed into a global symbol of cannabis culture and acceptance.

Whether celebrated through festivals and events or referenced in pop culture and politics, 420 continues to shape our perceptions of marijuana and its place in society. As legalization efforts progress and attitudes towards cannabis evolve, the legacy of 420 will endure as a testament to the power of grassroots movements and the enduring appeal of cannabis culture.