Where did 4/20 start?
4/20 is associated with weed culture like Nike is with swooshes. Honestly, it gets old. Every third gamer-tag I see on Xbox live ends 4/20. It’s the world renown weed holiday and everything from concerts to cannabis conventions are planned around April 20. Vice hosted an entire week on their website and T.V. channel Viceland, that was dedicated to celebrating cannabis and informing people on the plant. It’s everywhere. I love weed and it’s still easy to see the 4/20 moniker is becoming somewhat cliché.
Little did I know, 4/20 has a fun history, involving a crew of friends looking for a mysterious hidden weed field, like a stoner version of “Without a Paddle.”
In 1971, 5 stoner friends from San Rafael California met outside of their high school a few times a week to go “420ing.” This was their code for searching for an outdoor weed field allegedly located in the Point Reyes forest, per Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post. The friends used code words to increase discretion since weed was extremely looked down upon (to say the least) in 1971. Calling themselves the “Waldos,” the high schoolers met after their respective sports practices, treasure map and joints in hand to find a wild crop of weed.
One of the Waldo’s dad’s had an in with The Grateful Dead, so the Waldo’s spent time backstage and in after parties. Calling out “420,” before smoke outs became routine, and it became common Deadhead slang, per the Huffington Post. Jump to 1990, then reporter for High Times, Steve Bloom, was approached by a random hippy and handed a flyer. It 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.” The flyer ran with an anecdote about the Waldos and the lost Point Reyes weed field. High Times ran a story on the flyer in 1991 and the rest is cannabis history.
How and Why 4/20 is Celebrated
4/20 means different things to different people. For some it’s a way of protesting marijuana prohibition, which is alive and well in many parts of the U.S. and the world. Pot activists in Denver are holding 4/20 rallies as a commitment call to cannabis activism, The Denver Post reports. Others just get AS HIGH AS POSSIBLE in glorious shows of excess. In Seattle, there are events that combine social activism and weed consumerism, like the 420 Fest held in Lake City. All the proceeds will be donated to people spending life in prison for weed possession, The Stranger reports.
Putting my personal cynicism aside, 4/20 is an important day. It’s a way to celebrate cannabis culture and educate people on the plant’s benefits. Gallup polls show 60 percent of the country favor weed legalization, which is higher than ever. But, it’s important to remember that the fight for 100 percent legalization is not over. Activism and responsible promotion for cannabis use are still important to show the federal government and the remaining 40 percent of the country that cannabis deserves a place in society.