Every April 20th at exactly 4:20 pm, people around the word light up a joint in celebration of marijuana. You might be thinking that this date was randomly assigned as a day to celebrate what now known as the miracle plant. Well, it starts with the number 420. Curious how this number came to be related to smoking pot? Perhaps you want to know how it led to the establishment of April 20 as Weed Day. Let’s find out:
There is a lot of myth surrounding the origins of 420. Some might say that it was adopted by people who learned that ‘420’ is the police code for on-going marijuana smoking. Others say that it has something to do with Bob Dylan’s song Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (12 x 35 = 420), where he sang, “Everybody must get stoned.” A more improbable theory is that Weed Day was isolated after Adolf Hitler’s birthday. It’s fun to think about all these theories. However, these are not the reasons why 420 became significant for smokers and sellers alike.
These myths are all that: myths. The real reason why 420 came to be significant to marijuana enthusiasts has something to do with a group of teenagers in California way back in the 1970s. They call themselves the Waldos. The reason? They used to meet by a wall near their school. According to Steve Capper, an original member of the Waldos, they got their hands on a treasure map leading to a cannabis plant. The group began their search for the crop and met every day near a statue of Louis Pasteur right after dismissal time at, you guessed it, 4:20 pm. To remind each other of their meeting time, they used to say ‘4:20-Louis’ when they saw one another at school.
So, why April 20?
Well, the answer is simple. The phrase ‘4:20-Louis’ soon became ‘4:20.’ It became internationally known when members of the band called Grateful Dead became close friends with the Waldos. Grateful Dead fans were soon using 420 to refer to a joint and arranged an event where they lit up and smoked marijuana at 4:20 pm on April 20. Even the cannabis-focused magazine and brand got a hold of this story, popularising the use of 420 as a word and April 20 as Weed Day.
Just like the plant, the story behind Weed Day also has a fun background. Today, the cannabis plant is not only known for its therapeutic properties, but also for its medicinal ones.
Author: Carrie Sze