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420 history

By David Schick


“Hey man, it’s 4:20!”

Chances are that you’ve heard this expression at some point in your life if you’ve been on a college campus, or at a Grateful Dead concert.

420 is a term used in the pot-smoking subculture that refers to smoking weed. It’s also a references the time to smoke, 4:20 p.m., and the date, April 20.

But where did this saying come from?

“I think it was like the police code for marijuana,” said Antoine Johnson, a GPC philiosophy major.

While this along with the number of active chemicals in weed or because it’s Hitler’s birthday (April 20) are widely accepted explanations, they are all incorrect.

A couple of years ago, a reporter from The Huffington Post tracked down the real origin of the pot culture’s most widely used slogan.

A It was a group of friends from San Rafael High School, known as the “Waldos” (because of their chosen to spot to smoke at a wall outside the school), who were the first to coin this term.

When the Waldos learned of an abandoned cannabis crop, they plotted to meet at 4:20 p.m. to search for it. Although they never found the crop, 420 became a codeword for the group of teenagers to communicate their interest to buy, smoke, or even sell weed.

According to The Huffinton Post, the term got worldwide circulation through the Grateful Dead counter culture when the band moved a few blocks from San Rafael High School. When High Times magazine got wind of it, they helped make it a global phenomenon.


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