Drug Law

April 20 is Marijuana Day; Where Did 420 Come From?

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April 20 is the favorite day of the year for marijuana smokers -- after all, it is 4/20, and 420 is code for pot. But where did it come from?

There are many theories as to why 420 came to represent pot. Some say it is from a Bible verse. Others say it was police code for pot possession. Or the number of active chemicals in marijuana. Teatime in Holland? How about Hitler's birthday?

None of these theories is correct.

The real story is actually quite simple -- a group of five students at San Rafael High School in California who called themselves the Waldos would meet outside the school at 4:20 every day to smoke pot.

According to The Huntington Post, in the fall of 1971 the Waldos got word of an untended garden of marijuana. They agreed to meet at 4:20 one day to begin the search.

"We would remind each other in the hallways we were supposed to meet up at 4:20. It originally started out 4:20-Louis and we eventually dropped the Louis," Waldo Steve, who didn't want to give his real name, told The Huffington Post in 2009.

They searched for weeks for the crops. "We'd meet at 4:20 and get in my old '66 Chevy Impala and, of course, we'd smoke instantly and smoke all the way out to Pt. Reyes and smoke the entire time we were out there. We did it week after week," says Steve. "We never actually found the patch."

But a new term was born. "I could say to one of my friends, I'd go, 420, and it was telepathic. He would know if I was saying, 'Hey, do you wanna go smoke some?' Or, 'Do you have any?' Or, 'Are you stoned right now?' It was kind of telepathic just from the way you said it," Steve says. "Our teachers didn't know what we were talking about. Our parents didn't know what we were talking about."

But how did it spread beyond this group? Well, the Waldo's had connections to the Grateful Dead through other friends, and the group sometimes hung out with them in the hippie paradise of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. They used the term there, and it quickly spread throughout the community, and eventually beyond.

So there you have it -- the origin of a term that is now known worldwide.

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