50 Years of 420: The Hazy History

There are a few myths and rumors about the origin of 420. Some people believe it’s the number of active ingredients in marijuana. Some people believe that 420 is known as a police code for smoking marijuana. Lastly, some people reference 420 from Bob Dylan’s infamous, “Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35" because 12 multiplied by 35 equals 420. 

To put it bluntly, however, those rumors about 420 being associated with marijuana are myths. The most credible story can be traced back to the 1970s in California.

Statue of the chemist Louis Pasteur at San Rafael High School was where 420 was born in California.

In 1971, a group of five California students from San Rafael High School planned to meet each other at 4:20 pm by the campus' statue of the chemist Louis Pasteur. The purpose of this meeting was to search for an abandoned cannabis crop based on a treasure map made by the grower. The 4:20 pm time to meet was specific because their extracurricular activities and athletic practices would end near that time. 

This group comprised of Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich - who became known as the "Waldos" because they met at a wall. The Waldos referred to this plan as "4:20 Louis", but after failed attempts in search of the abandoned cannabis, they later changed their phrase to "4:20".

The bigger question: How did 420 spread from The Waldos in California? 420 wasn't put on the map until Steve Bloom, a former reporter, of High Times magazine popularized their story. 

The first story about 420

The first time High Times mentioned 4:20 as a smoking time and the infamous 4/20 holiday appeared in May 1991. And later in December of 1998, the connection to the Waldos became well-known as they acknowledged that the Waldos were the inventors of 420. Steve Bloom also attributes the early spread of the 4:20 phrase to the Grateful Dead and their followers. Dave Reddix, one of the Waldos, became a roadie for the Grateful Dead's bassist, Phil Lesh, and often called for 4:20 pm being the socially accepted hour of the day to consume cannabis.

Even though the Waldos never did find that patch of abandoned cannabis, they gained something even better. They essentially coined the term 420 as the date we all refer to as the official holiday where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis. Wherever you decided to medicate on this 420, we hope you celebrate with GreenLabs!

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