As we enter the month that holds our most beloved holiday, 420, we should travel back in time and see just how this holiday became one of the biggest unofficial holidays in the world (at least for us it is). You may know bits and pieces of the story or have heard some myths such as 420 being the police code for smoking marijuana but in reality, 420 was started by a group of five teenage stoners in the ‘70s.
The term “420” was coined in Point Reyes, California in 1971 by a friend group called “the Waldos” – Steve Capper, Larry Schwartz, Jeff Noel, Mark Gravich, and Dave Reddix. The group had heard of a Coast Guard member who left alone cannabis plant somewhere in the Point Reyes forest and they wanted to track it down. They decided to meet up at the Louis Pasteur statue after their school activities and guess what time they met up? 4:20. The five of them got high, jumped in a car, and went to the forest to find the plant, which unfortunately was never found.
After this trip, they started using “420-Louis” as their code word to meet up at the statue to get high in order to not raise suspicion around their family or schoolmates. Soon after, they dropped “Louis” from their code because they were fine getting high anywhere. Reddix’s older brother was friendly with Phil Lesh, the bassist for the Grateful Dead, which led to smoke sessions with the crew members and “420” started to spread.
In 1990, the Grateful Dead played at WinterWeek in Oakland and it was there that former High Times Reporter, Steve Boom, heard the term “420” for the first time. A “deadhand” handed Boom a flyer that said “We are going to meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County…” and was told what was believed to be the origin story of “420”. Boom published the story and “420” was popularized around the world. In 1997, the Waldos set the record straight about the origin, as 420 was never a police code for smoking marijuana. Now 420 is celebrated around the world and one of our favorite days of the year and we can thank five stoned teenagers for giving us our favorite stoner term.