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It’s 420 Somewhere, but What Does 420 Mean?

“It’s 420” is a phrase that has surfaced everywhere, becoming global. Entire online marketplaces for 420 deals now exist, giving rise to new product and even investment opportunities. But just what does 420 mean? If you’re curious about the meaning, where the term came from, and how it got started, you’re in the right place.

The mystery behind the origins of 420 has been the topic of many forums and smoke sessions, and this article aims to clear the smokescreen surrounding this blazing’ day, time, and phrase.

Many people have speculated about this number and debated the mystery surrounding the 420 origin. Here are some of the theories that have been hashed over, throughout the cannabis culture, for decades:

  • 420 was a radio call sign for marijuana-related offenses.
  • 420 was the number of cannabinoids in cannabis.
  • April 20th (4/20) was the date that legendary rock and roll artists Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin passed away.

While all of these are great guesses, none of them holds any validity, when it comes to 420 and weed. With this in mind, let’s look at the history of 420 together.

The origins behind 420 are actually based in a treasure hunt of sorts

The Waldos

It is rumored that, once upon a time, there was an immaculate, hidden marijuana crop, a crop of epic proportions, unlike any other found in the world. (There is even a sketchy treasure map hand-drawn, like something out of the Goonies.)

A group of high school kids that called themselves “The Waldos” decided to make it their mission to find this pot crop. They started meeting everyday after school, in front of the Louis Pasteur statue, at 4:20 pm.

The group started this routine after they got the hook-up on a map to the crop’s location, along with the blessing of an acquaintance’s brother. The brother supposedly planted this crop in Point Reyes, just northwest of San Francisco.

The Waldos included the following members – who, according to TIME Magazine, are all still friends and living in Northern California:

  • Steve Capper
  • Dave Reddix
  • Jeffrey Noel
  • Larry Schwartz
  • Mark Gravich

Initially, the term or phrase 420 was actually “420 Louis,” partially named for the statue the group would meet in front of. However, the gang later dropped the “Louis” part and just said 420.

Now we know that the 420 origin was a high school in California, but what does 420 mean? Quite simply, 420 means “let’s get high”. If you’re smoking a joint, bowl, or bong, it’s 420. 420 today means “it’s time to blaze,” thanks to the Waldos of yesteryear.


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Why 420?

Imagine if the Waldos had picked a different time to meet. If they had, we may be using an alternative term today. 4:20 pm just so happened to be when school got out, and when they could all gather in one spot, to go search for the sacred pot crop.

The term 420 stuck around because many people had no idea what it meant. Unless you were part of The Waldos or friends with them, 420 was meaningless to you. This made provided an excellent code for the group to use, without their teachers catching on to the scheme.

420’s Rise to Fame

A neat little piece of trivia is that the term 420 actually became famous, thanks to a legendary band by the name of the Grateful Dead. Dave Reddix of The Waldos landed a job as a roadie for the band’s bassist, Phil Lesh, and it was only a matter of time from there.

The Waldos would hang out during band practices, smoking joints while the Grateful Dead practiced their tunes. During this time, they would often reference 420 when they wanted to blaze, and, in return, the phrase stuck with the band members.

The Grateful Dead started using the term 420, and their popularity solidified the phrase in history. Then, sometime in the beginning of the 1990s, High Times magazine caught wind of the term 420 and published it in one of their magazines. Many people believe this is how the phrase 420 went global.

Today, the public’s attitude toward cannabis has shifted dramatically, making 420 more popular than ever

420 Today: Not Just for Stoners

Nowadays, 420 represents an entire culture, and one that is rapidly changing. The longhaired hippie stoners of the past are turning into executives and corporate entrepreneurs today. It’s not just jeans and tie-dyed shirts; it’s suits, dresses, and blouses.

420 is a special day all of its own. While those who partake in cannabis enjoy 420 day just about every day, the actual day itself only comes once a year. On 420 day (which is April 20th of each year, for obvious reasons), cannabis businesses, supporters, and advocates hold events that support the plant they love.

In the United States, thanks to cannabis legalization taking place, 420 is a day that is becoming more popular than ever before. Colorado, Washington State, Oregon, California, Nevada, and even America’s capitol, Washington, D.C., hold some fantastic 420 Day events that attract people from all around the world.

Today, the term 420 has spread around the world, thanks to the many individual seeds behind cannabis advocacy. It is said that a single seed can tip the scales, and when it comes to this “weed,” it’s obvious that cannabis culture did indeed get started in just this way.