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GEORGIA COLLEGE & STATE UNIVERSITY

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The origin of 420

 

The phrase 420 stands for April 20, a day that is seen by some people across the nation as a holiday for all things marijuana, “National Weed Day”. 

 

There are many myths surrounding the origin of 420’s popularity. One theory is that during the ‘70s, 420 was a police code that indicated that there was “marijuana smoking in progress.” 

 

Another myth is that there are 420 chemicals in the marijuana plant. Others have claimed that the term came from Bob Dylan’s infamous song “Rainy Day Women” and some complicated math. 

 

According to the magazine, “Cannabis Now”, the true origin of 420 comes from a group of high school students, known as the “Waldos,” in Marin County, California during the 1970s. The teens created a ritual; everyday they would meet at 4:20 p.m., after class, for smoke break. 420 then became code for meeting up to smoke marijuana. 

 

The phrase didn’t catch on until a famous rock band, known as the Grateful Dead made it popular in San Rafael, California a few years later. Fans of this band, known as Deadheads, passed out fliers in Oakland, California with the headline,  “smoke pot hard-core at 4:20. Now, there’s something even more grand than getting baked at 4:20. We’re talking about the day of celebration, the real time to get high, the grand master of all holidays: 4/20 or April 20th.”

 

The term 420 spread across the nation after a story about the “Waldos” and their connection with Grateful Dead was printed in the magazine High Times. The same magazine wrote another story emphasizing that 4:20 was what was considered an “accepted” hour to use cannabis. 

 

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